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photo: Martha G. Brady

photo: Martha G. Brady

For some of you, a real tree with the fresh smell of evergreen is the only way to go! You can’t imagine any other way to have Christmas than that!

But try being missionaries in Jamaica. It turns your Christmas ideas upside down a bit. I think real trees were available there…but at quite a price. The word for it there was “dear.” They were very dear!

It was ok. We lived in south Florida before Jamaica. I wasn’t used to real trees. We had them there, but the native ones had the long needles and were hard to decorate. The fake trees were much more cost effective. Ron had lived in south Florida long enough to adjust to fake trees. So that’s what we had…and took it to Jamaica with us.

Put your tree in a stand and get it straight.

Yeah! Step one is done!

Once you have the tree and it is in water (if real) and the cover is over the underpinnings. It is time to deal with the lights. Well, unless you have a luxury fake tree that has them all attached. One of these days…in the nursing home…:)

But I digress. The lights are the next consideration. Before putting them on the tree, plug them in to be sure they all are in working order. If you are smart, you will delegate this job to the men of the family…or someone. I’m told it isn’t worth getting new bulbs anymore. It is cheaper to just toss the old lights and buy new strings. While the people who are dealing with the lights are at it, they can check the outside lights to be sure they are ready and in working order.

Yes, this may be done already, but if not, you are feeling the need to get it done now. That’s why I’m including it here! It’s a job that theoretically can be done during a football game. But not everyone can do other things while watching a football game. Just sayin’.

Once you have strings of lights in working order, they can be put on the tree. I do it with the lights plugged in and on so I can see that they are relatively even while I’m doing it. Your style may be different. The important thing is to get the strings of lights on the tree and turned on.

If you are in doubt about whether to have more or less lights, go for more. With all the light illustrations in Scripture regarding Jesus and His first coming, I say go for lots of light!

The next step is the decorations. When you see where the lights are, you can tell where you want the decorations to go to balance everything out. If you haven’t involved your kids yet, be sure to involve them in this part of the decorating. They will love this part. Yes, you can get the high branches, but they will love hanging decorations on the lower ones.

Depending on your chains, you will want to add whatever chains of pearls, stars or maybe even tinsel at the end of it all. Looping and drooping them over the branches in between the decorations and lights…what fun! Can you tell I enjoy doing this? I remember years of decorating trees with the girls. We did some things the same and some things different each year.

Many people have more than one tree, some with different themes. If you are one of those people, go for it. We had a family room in our house so had a tree in our living room that was more fancy. I thought of it as representing the coming of Jesus as King of Kings. It had a lot of glitz on it…no, not the New Orleans kind, but crystals and lots of shiny stuff like you see in the picture.

The family room had a tree that was more tradtional and country looking. It had more decorations that were homemade. Now that we are in a smaller place, we have a much smaller tree that has attached lights and less loose ornaments. It has a more country, traditional look as well. We often are out of town at Christmas and don’t want to have lots of stuff to put away when we get home. It fills the bill well.

Now the tree is decorated…maybe more than one are done.

Whatever you choose to do with your tree, remember to not make it so complicated that your family can’t enjoy this part of Christmas. The concept of KISS (Keep It Simple Sweetie) is important with all your traditions. The other part of traditions…which we will discuss in a few days, is to keep them flexible, not rigid. It keeps busy seasons happier for everyone.

**One caution?

If your kids seem to have colds during most of the season, consider the fact that they might be allergic to real Christmas trees. One of our daughters consistently had a “cold” all week where there was a live tree at school. It went away during the weekend at home and came back on Mondays. We finally figured out that she was allergic to Christmas trees! (duh! she was sitting next to it every day!)

Enjoy getting ready for Christmas.

How does your activity remind you of Christ’s birth?

How does it help your family togetherness?

These two questions will help you as you consider your Christmas activities.