Christmas tree 2.0, paper whites & a blue truck

Marian ParsonsDecorating, Family Room, Holiday, Living Room, My House64 Comments

This year, I really took my time selecting the Parsons’ family Christmas tree of 2016.  It was the perfect height, fluffy, and full…just like I wanted.

I was practically giddy as I put on over 1200 lights, the garland, and ornaments.  It looked beautiful.


Here is how my glorious, perfect tree looked yesterday morning…


The tree was totally dried out and the branches were sagging, touching the floor.  This caused the garland to slide off.  Like a glacier, it was gaining ground each day.

 Since so much of the tree was on the floor, watering it became almost impossible (and probably pointless), and I couldn’t vacuum up the blanket of needles littering my pretty grain sack tree skirt, which was all but invisible, anyway.

I mean, how am I going to put presents under that tree?!  I started to joke with my sons that their presents would be buried underneath and they would have to crawl under to get them.

And some of the ornaments were just hanging on for dear life…


(By the way, I’m skittish about fire in general, so I don’t light those candles, but I love the idea of real candles on a tree.)

I tried to talk myself into riding it out, planning to take it down on Christmas day, as things started to wind down. But then I thought about how much we all love the glow of the lights at night and what a bummer it would be to not have that.

The tree looked so pathetic yesterday morning that I just couldn’t stand it.  We were going to either not have a tree or get a new one.  I approached the topic with Jeff gingerly, knowing that putting up a tree isn’t one of his favorite things to do…especially when he’s already done it once, thus fulfilling his Christmas tree duties for 2016.

He could see how important it was to me and agreed that replacing the tree wasn’t an entirely unreasonable request, given the sad state of it.  He agreed to help.

I went to the tree farm after working in the studio.  They only had four Frazier fir trees cut and three of them would be worse than having no tree at all!  The forth one was almost 10′ tall and it wasn’t as full as my beloved tree, but it was respectable and had a nice shape.  At the very least, it didn’t have bald spots or brown patches like the other three.  I had it cut down to 8.5′, so it would fit in our room, and the gentleman wrapped it up and put it on my van.  He took pity on the fact that I had to buy a second tree and, even though it wasn’t their fault, he sold this one to me for $10.

(As an aside, our noble fir has dried out as well and Kriste said her tree, which was only purchased 2 weeks ago, has dried out, too.  I already had to pitch the little white tree from Wegmans, because so many branches were bare.  We’ve been having other issues with static electricity zapping Calvin’s diabetic equipment.  I think this year is just extraordinarily dry.)

When we brought the tree in and set it up, Marshall, my almost-10-year-old loudly spewed, “Why is that tree so – ” and Jeff cut him off.  “It’s going to look great when mommy is finished decorating it.”  Translation – If you point out how sparse and awkward this tree is compared to the one we just hauled out and put on the burn pile, you might make your mom cry.

Surprisingly, I was hopeful about this tree.  I could see it had good bones and potential, even though it was a little tall and gangly.  So, here it is, Christmas Tree 2.0…


Not too bad.  Marshall said the tree must be a girl, because she’s “wearing a skirt”.

I think she has a tree-next-door quality about her, as opposed to the previous one that was a little more shapely and manicured.

The lights, ornaments, and garland all helped pull the branches down a bit, making it look fuller and it’s actually quite nice given that I only had four to chose from!

I am considering an artificial tree for next year, though.  They have come a long way with looking realistic, so I think it’s worth another try.

In other Christmas decor news, the paper whites are blooming!


They have been so easy to grow and fun to watch.  I am so glad I tried them this year.


Also, in the living room, I added a little toy truck to my village scene.  I was up tucking Marshall into bed and noticed this antique toy truck sitting on his bookshelf.  I found a small collection of old metal cars when I was cleaning out my Opa’s attic, including this truck.  They boys have never played with them, but I set them out on one of their shelves.  I’ve had them for years, but have never thought of using them in decor.  That night, the blue truck caught my eye afresh.  Well, hello there!  Wouldn’t you would look great with a bottle brush tree in your bed?  You’re coming with me.   




In addition to some actual work, I finished wrapping Christmas presents today.


I even used a little red.

I hope you’re all enjoy your Christmas preparations and it’s not too stressful.  I still have a few more things to do, but I’m looking forward to Christmas day and then taking a few days off to just enjoy my family and have some much needed down time.

Christmas tree 2.0, paper whites & a blue truck

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64 Comments on “Christmas tree 2.0, paper whites & a blue truck”

  1. What an awesome story! So typical of real life… but I love how you persevered, made do with what you could find and will still have a beautiful tree for Christmas. A great lesson for your boys and for us all.

  2. I know Christmas decorating is usually done well in advance in blog land so I am not surprised your beautiful tree has already dried out. I was just wondering if you pre-soaked your live tree in a bucket of water a few days before bringing it in though? I know when we use to have live trees we always did this and it seemed to help.

    I noticed a group of bloggers who were sponsored by a company called Tree Classics this year and they did have some very nice artificial trees that you might want to consider for next year. I must admit that I don’t see you as an artificial Christmas tree person though. Perhaps, holding off putting up the tree by a week might be the best solution. Kuddos to Jeff for being a great sport about getting the second tree.

    1. I think I would still get a real tree, but I won’t put it up so early. We’ve always put our tree up after Thanksgiving and I love that tradition, but it’s a little unrealistic to expect a live tree to last that long, so it would be nice to have an artificial one as well, that can be up for about 5 weeks.

      1. I have three trees in my house – all 7 1/2 feet and all artificial. Except for the white one, you cannot tell the other two are not real. You can get some great deals on artificial trees in a few days. The best ones I have seen are from Balsam Hill.

  3. One other suggestion, since you have so much dryness in your house have you considered using a humidifier? This might help to some degree as well.

  4. Hi Marian, I feel your pain. I picked out a lovely Fraser Fir from Nova Scotia, cut off the obligatory inch from the trunk, promptly propped it in a bucket of water and kept it cool and hydrated in my garage for several days until it was ready to come inside. I got the 500 lights strung, while hearing the gentle tinkling sound of needles falling on my hardwood floor. Gave it water, waited overnight. When there was just as much water still in the stand in the morning, I took that sucker out of its stand, lights and all, and chopped another chuck off the bottom of the trunk. It’s better, but not great. Newscasts throughout New England warned of this issue early in the season, attributing the general problem to the drought conditions that have impacted all of agriculture in this region for a few years now. It’s not us, it’s Mother Nature. Your tree looks just lovely. Merry Christmas to you and your family!

    1. Hi,
      Interesting! I live on Cape Cod and got a cut-your-own tree from a farm in the area and the folks there warned me that they did not know how the trees would do this year — because of the drought. My tree looks OK but it is not soaking up the water like it should so I am keeping a very close eye on it.

      I know things have come a long way – but there is still nothing like a real tree!

    2. Yes, I do think it is because of the drought. I really hadn’t even thought of that when I bought the tree, but in hindsight, it makes perfect sense.

  5. You crack me up! Your tree 2.0 reminds me of a Charlie Brown tree I once coaxed into something of a rough diamond. After a rough day. Reading your post today gave me a little chuckle. Love you and your family stories!

  6. I wish, given the drought conditions west to east, the Christmas tree people would cut and sell trees closer to Christmas. I know I’m very opinionated in this regard, but putting a tree up the day after Thanksgiving is ridiculous (who makes up these rules anyway beside marketers). That’s usually a month of trying to keep that cat off the tree and the tree watered! We don’t put up our tree until Christmas Eve and we keep it up for the 12 days of Christmas, until Epiphany. I think it’s so sad when I see trees tossed Dec. 26th – “The party is over, goodbye Jesus!” I was in Rite Aid on Monday and all the Christmas candy was dumped in their clearance bins because they had to make room on the shelves for Valentine candy. I got some good deals, but sheesh… It feels anti-climactic before the climax even happened. OK, I’m done with my rant.

  7. Oh, I feel your pain, in Dec 1996 we moved into a beautiful new home with 13′ ceilings, the living room had a huge bay window. I always dreamed of a huge Christmas tree. Since we lived in Florida, trees have to be imported from NC. We found our perfect tree, it wouldn’t fit in the front door, so had to come around back through the double French doors. After cutting off 3″ of the bottom (we had to buy a extra large stand) with the star top it hit the ceiling and filled the bay window. It was beautiful decorated with white lights and all handmade ornaments made by me or fellow craft people. I also filled the branches with baby’s breath and red velvet bows. 3 days later sitting in the den watching TV I heard this swoosh followed by a crash. I got to see my beautiful tree on the floor, just missing our dinning room table by a few inches, pine needles and water all over the white tile floor. It took hours to clean up. Hubby hauled the tree outside and tied it to one of our many pine trees in our 5 acres for me to just enjoy looking at it. Well, it wasn’t meant to be as it fell again, then there it stayed. It was now 2 days before Christmas and even finding a artificial tree was hard. Needless to say, even though we now live in Oregon, we have never had a live tree again. 🙁 And——you don’t want to know how much it cost to have that size of tree in Florida.

    1. Oh no. I would’ve definitely cried in that case! When we were first married, we had two cats and they knocked over my Christmas tree three times, breaking a bunch of vintage glass ornaments. It must’ve been quite a sight! I was beat red, crying, and yelling at the cats as I cleaned up shards of glass. I finally put it away and we didn’t have a tree for eight years. I finally bought a tree when I was pregnant with my first son. We always tie them up with fishing line, though, just for a little added insurance.

  8. I had to put up two trees this year too! But my dog pulled my first one down and broke the base. I am grateful though, I have been wanting a real tree again. But my practical side wouldn’t let me get rid of a perfectly fine artificial tree.

  9. I have always had artificial trees at my house. This year I kept walking by the live trees and thought “what if?”. I did not buy a live tree but next year I am seriously thinking of one with a root ball because we have lost a lot of trees in last springs storms. Your tree looks very pretty. Great Job!

  10. Very pretty!! I love that you put your children’s homemade ornaments on as well. I hate to see when people try so hard to make it perfect it becomes soulless.

  11. I ordered our tree from Gree Valley Christmas Tree farm after reading your post a couple weeks ago. The tree was beautiful for like two days! We’all have Christmas with out grandchildren on Friday the 23rd. It’s my plan to take the tree down the 24th. I’m very disappointed with how fast it wilted and lost its needles. Even the scent went away in a couple days. My husband cut a couple inches off the bottom and I have been conscious about watering it. My husband thought I was crazy for not using our beautiful artificial tree, I wanted something that smelled like Christmas. I’ve learned my lesson ?

  12. So sorry about your tree! The same thing happened to us. Our tree looks terrible it looking like sticks? Your new one looks very pretty! I love how your family room looks now!

  13. Very dry in the South also…. Everything is Beautiful… Can you share ur source for the cutZie wooden houses.??? TY….

  14. I can remember from my childhood having a tree so sparse, my mother went out to the yard and grabbed some pine branches, had my father drill holes in the trunk, and wired them in. This was, I am pretty sure, a financial thing , but I loved how my mom wanted a beautiful tree and made it happen.

    A second tree for your family? Perfectly logical and necessary under the circumstance. Enjoy this new beauty in your home. Merry Christmas!

  15. Bless you! A tree is a major project…lots of work, and to do it twice…oh my! I do not envy that. Your husband is a real keeper to help you get another one. But I totally understand the desire to have that second one after the first was in such bad shape. We had artificial trees for a number of years, but it has been back to the real thing for the last 15 or so. I do remember one year when one of our live ones fell over in the family room…right before a major dinner party! That was the fastest I have ever redecorated a tree in my life!
    Loved your story. 🙂

  16. Your story was copy of my tree memory,? The first one drooped was a Douglas Fir , put up,another and it happened again. I then purchased a Frazier and the third time around it stayed lovely. Now only Fraser’s when I buy a real one. I do both as I do a few?? trees. Marry Christmas to your family…

  17. Oh wow, two trees! I”m sorry you went through that, but glad you ended up with a pretty tree to celebrate the holiday with.

    We used to get our live trees from a tree lot, already cut. Even if we re-cut the stump right before we put it in the watering stand, we found that the tree would dry out quickly and stop “drinking” water pretty much right away.

    Then we started going to the “cut your own” farm, and cutting our tree down ourselves. if we make sure to get it into water right away, and keep it well watered, these trees keep “drinking” water form the stand for at least two weeks! And they stay much fresher and perkier for much longer.

    So now for me, it’s “cut your own” or artificial, no in-between.

    if you haven’t yet, maybe give “cut your own” a try! it’s a fun family outing and might be just what you need to keep your tree fresher longer.

  18. Marion, 2.0 is beautiful! You could make Charlie Brown’s tree the envy of the neighborhood!

    Woot, woot to your hubs for 2x the assist! 🙂

    Merry Christmas to you and your family…and a thank you for another great year of such lovely inspiration!

  19. What a bummer that your first tree didn’t make it. We got a Fraser Fir this year and so far it’s hanging in there and is still green and dropping very few needles. It has sucked up a TON of water though. My husband has been having to refill the stand daily.

    2.0 looks beautiful all decorated. I’ve found that even sparse trees look quite nice once the lights and ornaments are up. A little extra space between branches makes fro great places for hanging ornaments where they can actual dangle and spin and catch the light!

    Merry Christmas!!

  20. Oh I’m so sorry. I put my cut tree up day after Thanksgiving and it’s still great. Washington state is more moist so maybe that is our good fortune although the rain is a bit overwhelming.
    Your new tree is lovely!!!

  21. I love this one. the other one was beautiful, also. I like a little room between the branches, to make shelves of, or to put larger ornaments in there. Winning either way. (and it is a girl tree)

  22. I actually like your second tree as much as the first one!
    Fraser Firs have never shed for me but we go to a ‘cut your own’ tree lot and I always put mine in a crock with LOTS of water.
    They do make such beautiful real-looking artificial trees these days. I always swore I would never get one but I’ve been tempted this year!
    A Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  23. Artificial trees are efforless either. Branches go dark if you buy a prelit. We bought one 5 years ago and 9 brances went dark. I learned a lot on Google about electricity and was able to fix it myself but I’m stubborn and spent days doing it. I don’t like the idea of our tree going to a land fill and many do.

  24. Loved the perfection of your first tree, but 2.0 has more character! We always had Douglas Firs when i was a kid, and there is nothing more Charlie Brown than that! Dad was always adding a branch or two to fill it out! But you could see all the ornaments and the tree stayed fresh, even with those big, hot 1970’s bulbs on it. I have artificial trees now, but miss those old Douglas trees!

  25. So sorry you had to put up two trees!
    We live in SC and most of trees come from NC but they last really well.
    We generally buy Frazier firs!
    Better luck next year!
    Merry Christmas to you and your family!!!

  26. We’ve been lucky with real trees, I make sure I give it a good drink of Sprite every day. One day I topped it with just plain water and had some needles on the floor next morning. Went back to Sprite. They usually last about 15 – 20 days that way.
    That little blue truck is so sweet. I took one of my grandsons’ “woodies” (surf jeep) from his Matchbox collection and used it. He doesn’t know yet – shhhh.

  27. Lovely 2.0 …you are not the only
    One to return her tree… in So Cal we had to also twice…. I pray for rain…. Merry Christmas…you did a fab job… and having had sons they secretly think your the bomb

  28. 2.0 is Beautiful!
    Please don’t take down your tree on the 25th, that’s when the true “Twelve Days of Christmas” begin.

    We don’t take ours down until January 6th, the Epiphany, when the Three Wise Men brought gifts to the Christ Child.

  29. I saw no mention of when you buy a real tree.. you cut the bottom off when you get home, stick in water,bucket for a few hours, or put up right away and fill the stand with water? Real trees, are live trees, and when they cut them fresh, a tree seals itself with the sap etc. I have never used a preservative or conditioner in the water well of the stand, though some people do! We have cut your own lots here, but they are very expensive, to pay for the experience!

    I do like it when you are “real” with us, that your life is not perfect! IT can seem that way to readers.. though I am older and know know one’s life is perfect. Blogs often make it seem that way though! You are fortunate, and you do know that, you have the means to replace a tree.. even though you did get a deal for 10 dollars. I hope you tipped him! He hopes a celebrity like you will now buy your trees from him in the future! Merry Christmas!

  30. You really crack me up!!! 2 trees and ornaments “hanging on for dear life”. Jeff is certainly a keeper!!
    Where do you get all that energy? Do you sell it in your shop?
    Have a wonderful Christmas with all of your love ones!!!
    Everything looks GREAT as always!

  31. We love real trees and always went to a tree farm to choose just the right tree. But…after our home burned down (nothing to do with a live tree), I just couldn’t have a live tree again because I just worried about fire. We did get a beautiful artificial tree and with all the decorations on it, we really love it. I think it is more about the decorations because each one has a special memory. We also have had bubble lights on our tree since we were first married (54 years ago). So, if you do get an artificial tree, I believe you will love it and not have the mess. Blessings and Merry Christmas.

  32. The little houses in your Village Scene are just darling, Are they available to purchase this year >? You find the sweetest decorations, Love it all, Thank you

  33. I think 2.0 is lovely. And now you have plenty of room for all those larger packages (which I’m sure the boys will love!)

    We always buy a live Frazier Fir the day after Thanksgiving. We cut off two inches off the trunk and fill the tree stand twice with water before adorning it with lights, ornaments and garland. That seems to allow the tree to suck up as much water as it can handle and stay green without loosing too many needles. I’ve never had a problem with it lasting four or five weeks and only have to water once a week. the week before we decide to take it down we stop watering so we don’t have to drag tree and a full stand of water through the house.

    And nothing compares to a real tree — I don’t care how advanced fake trees become.

    Your home is beautiful. I think you could put up a Charlie Brown tree and it would still be magical! enjoy the season

  34. When we have had yards big enough for pine trees, we bought live trees and planted them after the holidays. Otherwise it’s been artificial trees because I feel so bad for the poor trees left curbside.
    One upside to an artificial tree, I can hang my very heavy ornaments.

  35. Refer to my previous comment about your original tree. You must have a fresh cut and then place it in water almost immediately or the cut will seal over. It also helps to make a few cuts into the cambium layer where the trunk goes into the water.

    Don’t even think of decorating it until you make sure it is a good “drinker” and don’t ever let the water level get too low.

    I don’t think anywhere has been hit harder than Southern California in this drought but our noble fir is still fresh and drinking. We bought it the first week in December and then set it water for another week in the shade to make sure it was a good drinker.

  36. After reading about your paper whites, I ordered mine online. No blooms yet. What is your secret? I planted them in a shallow bowl with rocks and moss.

    1. I was told they take 4 weeks to bloom, so maybe yours just aren’t there, yet? I am watering them a bit as well, about once a week.

      Otherwise, my secret weapon is ignoring them! 🙂

  37. Wow. In all the years we had a live tree, I never saw one wilt like that! It must have been so sad to see. Your husband is such a good sport about putting up th second one.

  38. Oh My!, You are a better woman than me. Last year two days before Christmas my live tree hatched about a zillion creepy black spiders! Twenty-five years of live tree love went out to the curb with that tree and I am now and forever an artificial tree girl.

    1. Oh my gosh, that would ruin it for me, too! I actually gave my tree a sideways glance over my shoulder when I read your comment. I hope it doesn’t have any “surprises” for me.

      I did find a bird’s nest in a tree one year, but that was a sweet little surprise. 🙂

  39. I love 2.0 tree, she’s perfectly imperfect , like us all❤️. Your comment ” I even used red” made me giggle☺️. I’m enjoying many blogs but yours touches me deeply every time. Thank you?. Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year?

  40. Tree #1 was beautiful but I like tree #2 more. Number one was perfect at first, but isn’t that life?Tree two looks more real and authentic …pretty, but you can comfortably hang out with him and just enjoy Christmas…. Merry Christmas!

  41. The last real tree I had was from a cut your own tree on a tree farm in southern Arkansas. My stepson and I hiked all over the field to find the perfect tree, cut it, hauled it home,had to trim it off several times to get it in the living room, and finally got it decorated. It was beautiful. A few days before Christmas I noticed something on the presents. SAP! And tiny bugs stuck to the sap. Apparently we should have sprayef the tree. But how were we supposed to know that. The heat inside the house caused the sap to drip and the bugs to come out of the tree. We had sticky sap all over our presents with bugs stuck to them.. At least the bugs were tiny. Not much bigger than knats. The tree was removed. All the presents had to be wrapped again and all the decorations had to be cleaned to get the sap off. We’ve had an artificial tree since that catastrophe. Every time my husband mentions the nice smell of a real tree and suggests we get one I remind him of our last one. I was the one washing the decorations and rewrapping presents. The real nightmare before Christmas

  42. I won’t share a personal story but I have some observations. 1200 lights if not LED will put out a lot of heat and challenge a live tree. Also do you have base board heating. Live trees should be a good distance from a direct heat source. You mentioned it was a ‘tree farm’….does that mean the actual growing area was right there or elsewhere? Elsewhere would mean the trees are harvested weeks prior to the selling started. The large growers in the PNW start harvesting more than a month before shipping all over the country.

    1. Yeah, good point with the lights. I didn’t think about the heat they would put off. I always put on a lot of lights, though, and haven’t had that problem before.

      Yes, the tree farm is where they actually grow the trees and the tree was cut that day.

      And, we do have baseboard heating, but it’s hot water heat, so it’s not as dry as electric.

  43. I’m so sorry your tree dried up but I sure love the 2nd one just as much, especially if it’s a girl, lol! Wishing you a very Merry Christmas!! Thank you for all you share with us throughout the year!

  44. Good Morning
    Merry Christmas! I wanted to share a decorating tip. When I use candles as decoration I always light them and let them burn a little,it gives them a homey feel. I don’t know how many of the clip on candle ornaments you have but if you just light the candle before placing on the tree you be happy with the look.

  45. Beautiful new ? …May God Bless Mommy and Daddy and all the Love in Parson Family Home. you did good guys. Merry Christmas ?

  46. Thank you for this awesome post! Reminds me of years ago when our tree died weeks before Christmas and my husband told me just to keep the lights on it off until we took it down. Needless to say, I recruited my Dad to go out with me and get a new one. He helped me take out the old one and put up the new one. Great memory to be reminded of as he’s been gone 5 years! Merry Christmas and thanks again for reminding me of a lovely memory!

  47. I actually like your second tree better. I’m a big fan of fazier firs. We have had one for the last 15 years and have never had a problem with them drying out.
    Merry Christmas!

  48. Thanks for keeping it real! I always buy our real tree the day after Thanksgiving. But, one year our tree was so dry that I just prayed over it daily, did not have a fire in t fireplace, since it was not far from the tree, and asked the family to not brush up against the tree for fear of all the needles falling off. Took the tree down Christmas day night and thanked God all went well! Would never ever consider getting a fake tree.

  49. I like,both of your trees, but, 2.0 is my favorite by far. It reminds me of the trees we had when I was a child in the 60’s in Oklahoma. My parents didn’t have much money, so, they usually purchased the most inexpensive tree they could find. We had a lot of homemade ornaments, and some that were handed down from my grandmother to my mom. We decorated it as a family and every year we all thought it was the most beautiful tree ever! Thanks for bringing back those memories with your beautiful tree

  50. Hi Marian you might think this is funny! I was so inspired by your beautiful first tree that I wrote about it in a blog post, How next year I want to have a real Christmas tree instead of the usual plastic ones people have here in Australia. Then I read this post about tree no 2 and it made me laugh! Yes the real thing is not as convenient but it does have a lot of good memories attached to it. And it’s what I remember of my childhood Christmases and what I want to get back to, imperfect but still beautiful. So I would encourage you, don’t get a plastic tree, make memories instead. I am sure your family will remember this Christmas and the two trees for a long time to come!

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