Tree Trash

My Daughter’s “Trashless” Dream Tree

Despite the fact that my fourteen year old daughter never stepped a foot out of the truck to participate in our annual tree hunt this year as it was “way too cold,” she still managed to give us quite a few instructions on the size and shape of the tree we should get.  It needed to be tall and narrow, not “bushy.”  Living in Northern Nevada, we get pinion pines and finding a tall narrow one can be harder said than done, but we managed.  She approved of our find and then asked if she could please be in charge of the Christmas decorations this year. “Really,” I said.  “Why?”

“Because last year it looked like Santa puked Christmas all over the house, and this year, I want it to look pretty,” she replied.  Hmmm, Santa puke? She followed this with, “Why can’t we have a pretty tree with ornaments that match? Do you have to cover it with all your ‘tree trash’?”

Yep, tree trash.  That’s what my kids call the treasured ornaments and decorations that they spent countless hours creating.  The tongue depressor reindeer, the glitter and glue angels, the red and green chains to count down the days until Christmas, it has all been reduced to “tree trash,” and much to their dismay, I saved it all. Every single bit of it. They’re my favorite decorations, but apparently their dad and I are the only ones in this family who consider them decorations and not . . . trash.

Which begs the question, what is a holiday decoration? A box of fancy matchy bulbs from a store or a pile of faded construction paper, glitter and glue? My teenagers would choose the former; I’ll take the latter every time, but what are they decorating for?  I would say that at fourteen and sixteen, they’re still overly concerned with appearances, and they don’t really want all their friends to see the lovely ornaments they made in preschool despite the fact that most of their friends made the same exact things they did.  They’ll figure it out someday.

We spent one evening this week dragging out all the holiday decorations, but a full two-thirds of them went back into the garage as I decided to go ahead and let my daughter be in charge of the decorating.  I’ve always thought of myself as something of a minimalist in that I don’t like clutter, but when it came to decorating this season, she put me to shame.

She surveyed every decoration and decided what could come out and what had to stay put.  I did insist on most of the handmade ornaments for the tree, but none of the handmade pictures, cards, or large creations made the cut unless they went in my bedroom.  She informed me I could decorate my bedroom however I wanted it, and since my husband and I are the only people who like all that stuff anyway we could put it in there with us.  “That’s awfully generous of you,” I said.  She didn’t answer.  Sadly, her brother agreed with her.

I have to say that she did an impressive job, and now I know I have prepared her to handle the Christmas decorating responsibilities as an adult.  It was also a good compromise.  I have enough tree trash to make me happy, and she doesn’t feel like Santa puked on us . . .  though I do miss the reindeer one of them made out of a hanger and pantyhose that I usually hang on the door to the office.  I might just have to sneak that one in.

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10 thoughts on “Tree Trash

  1. What a beautiful tree! And what a wonderful Mom for letting her express her design instinct and to have done you so proud.

    I too understand the sentimentality of things that have been made by our children – mine are still young enough that they wish to decorate the tree with absolutely everything they have made or were allowed to buy and I accept that, although I do look at the tree and know it is a complete mish mash.

    The older ones know how to decorate, but they are still learning how to articulate, one day they will understand what it was you were trying to preserve.

    Enjoy, you have a very talented daughter 🙂

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    1. Thanks! Actually that picture is her dream tree – our tree still has tree trash on it, but she did a great job with the rest of the house.

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  2. Georgeous Tree !!! Great job Haley ~~ It looks like a tree from Macys. Amy, wait until you have a Daughter-in-Law that laughs at your ‘tree trash’, then actually makes you a cotton ball & Q-tip snowman and puts it on your tree. Then a few years later after having a couple boys of her own…. now has …. yep…. TREE TRASH…. I love it. Gram : )

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    1. I just hope we can make it through this teenage “age”! I stopped posting as often on my blog so I could devote more time to my actual writing, but instead both my kids have stepped up their parenting requirements, so I still haven’t been writing like I hoped. Ah well, as you said in your blog, I don’t want to make writing a “should” that I then feel guilty about.

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  3. Your descriptive story made me laugh! I guess my tree qualifies as a trash tree, too. My 15 year old prefers my neighbor’s beautifully matched tree with color-coordinated ornaments and lights. She does get a wee bit nostalgic when she pulls out her box of special ornaments, though. So I think she has learned to balance appearances and memories, making small allowances for both.I no longer put up the homemade ornaments, but we do take them out and look at them.There are a few very special ones that make the cut every year. It wouldn’t feel like our tree with out them. Even she agrees with that.

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    1. Your reply made me smile – teenagers want so much to be unique and not like anyone else, but they truly are so much alike! We also have those special ornaments that will always make everyone’s cut. It’s a fun time of year.

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  4. Guess I have to admit that “tree trash be me.” Will also admit that my granddaughter did an amazing job on the tree – will she come here and decorate our tree? If yes, she needs to understand that your sister’s fading yellow construction paper star from nursery school, 1972, and your fading tissue paper wreath from 3rd grade, 1978, stay. Also, your melted plastic green strawberry basket + glitter and your sister’s collection of knock-the-tree-over-heavy ceramic ornaments, 1974, stay. There’s more … they stay too.

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    1. I can’t wait until Haley has kids and has an entire tree filled with her own tree trash. She says it’ll never happen, but never say never, right?

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