Last year, for various reasons, we didn't put up a Christmas Tree. We received quite a bit of flak about this from family and friends. So this year we made sure to purchase a tree.
Growing up, Christmas trees were always a big part of the holiday. When my sister and I were young, and believed in Santa Claus, my parents would keep the tree hidden in the garage until we'd fallen asleep on Christmas Eve. Then they'd put up the tree and decorate, as well as prepare, wrap, and/or assemble everything for the following day. It made for an incredibly magical Christmas Day for us kids to run downstairs and see the Christmas tree there, decorated and lit. I can only imagine how exhausting it must have been for my folks.
As we got older, dressing the tree became a family tradition. Mom and dad would put on Christmas music, and we'd spend an evening putting on the decorations together. We had a lot of ornaments, and it was usually a fun family experience to reminisce over the history of individual pieces. We each had our favorite. My favorite ornament, for as long as I can remember, is the shiny Elvis Claus:
At some point in my teenage years, dad purchased a string of bubble lights for the tree. These quickly became his absolute favorite decoration, much to my mom's chagrin. Every year there was a heated battle as mom tried to coerce dad not to put up the bubble lights. She could never change his mind, so she'd always resort to encouraging him to place the lights in out-of-the-way places. This rarely worked, either, because I would always back dad's side, being fond of the lights myself.
Several years ago, mom found a way to trump dad's bubble lights by purchasing a string of lights shaped like red jalapeno peppers. These were, by far, the most unique item on our tree that year, and dad seriously considered entering into a truce with mom so that his beloved bubble lights would be removed if it meant that the pepper lights would be, too. For reasons unknown to me, that truce never occurred, and for every year after the tree was graced with both bubble lights and pepper lights.