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Trimming A Sentimental Christmas Tree

As we always use a real tree, our trees never have the perfect shape that faux trees have. But let me tell you: it is pretty easy to give your real tree the perfect shape! It just takes an extra easy step and that is all about it.
But before showing you how we trim our Christmas tree, allow me tell you about our sentimental Christmas ornament tradition, which I am sure you'll enjoy to hear it.
When Greg and Margo (Greg’s sister) were kids, Mom started to buy or make themed ornaments for them each Christmas which commemorated the major events in their lives that year. She would also write a clever caption and the year on those ornaments.
She would then gift Greg and Margo with those ornaments on Christmas eve for them to hang on the tree. When grandchildren arrived, Mom continued this tradition with them.
I learned about Mom’s Christmas tradition when Barish received his first sentimental ornament, and ever since, it has become our Christmas tradition too. Every year, I buy or make Christmas ornaments for Barish, Greg, Penny & Pepper (our dogs) and for myself to commemorate our major events in that year.
Here are some of our ornaments from previous years.
And the stories behind the ornaments:
1. When Greg was working in Boston, he lived in a pretty small apartment. The year he moved to a bigger apartment, Mom gave him an astronaut ornament with a clever note saying “Space! I got more space!” 1996
2. Like all kids, Greg also loved his toys. So much so that at age 5, he couldn’t bear the thought of parting with his beloved toys, so he asked Mom if he could take them with him to college. The toy box ornament was given to him with a note saying “Greg’s toys for college!” LOL
3. Until we moved to America, we always lived in furnished rentals. Therefore, we never were able to hang anything on the walls, as our rental places usually came with certain rules. When we moved to our house in America, Barish was ecstatic. He grabbed all his drawings from his box and said “I have my first real room!” About an hour later when I went to his room to see what the was doing, I saw all the walls covered with his drawings. LOL
4. Shortly after we moved to our home (Oct 2013), we realized we had the cutest neighbors ever: a red fox family! Luckily our backyard is fenced in, so our dogs could never disturb this lovely family. Although they leave every spring to discover the world, they always come back to their den every winter. As Barish was the first one to see our sweet neighbors, this ornament belongs to him.
Now that you saw some our ornaments and have a better idea on our tradition , let me take you through the process of our tree decoration.
The first step is setting up the tree. As we usually go for a tree at least 9 feet tall, we use Mom & Dad’s old tree stand, because it is the heaviest and strongest one that we could possibly find. Right after we put the tree into the stand, we also secure it with wires that we attach to our baseboard. It is so the tree never falls which is a scary situation – oh yes! we went through it once with our very first tree and don’t want to go through that again. Luckily no body was hurt and no ornaments were broken!
Then we water our tree and let it be for a day or two. I call this “tree’s relaxing time!” Not that our tree sits and enjoys a Christmas movie with us, but this relaxing time helps it to adjust to it’s new environment so it can start dropping it’s branches to a normal position.
When the tree’s relaxing time is over, I start with the lights. Now here is my first hint for you – although many people and professional websites will tell you that you need to wrap the lights to the branches as shown in the picture below, I never bother myself with that for two obvious reasons:
1. Trying to wrap your lights around the branches causes more needles to drop, therefore the tree looks pretty naked in the end.
2. Taking those lights out after Christmas becomes a pain the back.
Instead, I place the lights in a spiral manner as shown in the picture below. I start from the very bottom row of branches, and I work my way up. With every row of branches I wrap the lights first around the trunk. Then I make another round by placing them towards the middle, then the final round by placing them towards the end of the branches. Once I finish my work with the first row, I move to the next row above. This way when I take the tree down after Christmas I almost spend no time getting the lights out of it. I simply grab a pair of loppers and start cutting the branches row by row, and as each ow of branches falls on the floor, my lights become free for me to coil them back to their spool.
Here is another hint for you: I always have my lights plugged in when I am placing them on the tree. This helps me seeing any broken strand of lights before I happen to place them on the tree.
Once I reach the top of the tree, I wrap whatever lights I have left around the top stem where our angel (tree topper) would be placed. While I’m at it, I also place our angel.
But before hanging anything the ornaments on the tree, I first step back a bit and determine the gaps our tree has.
Once I know the empty areas, I grab my lightweight-but-big ornaments and start hanging them into those gaps. But when I don’t have enough big lightweight ornaments, then I grab some of the heavier ornaments and hang them in a way to fill those empty areas. As the heavy ornaments will bring the upper branches closer the bottom ones, our tree ends up with evenly spread branches.
The green lines in the picture below is to show you the change in the angle of that specific branch after I hung a heavy ornament.
After I finish filling the big empty spaces, I start putting our garland which is a simple red flannel ribbon I bought from Joann Fabrics 3 years ago.
When I finish placing the garland, I get back to hanging the rest of ornaments: heavier ones usually go toward the top branches as they tend to be stronger, and lighter ones anywhere else on the tree, including the inner parts. I also try to fill the tree as evenly as possible. One thing I refrain from is hanging anything at the edge of the branches.
Once I hang most of our ornaments, the tree looks pretty much like it does in the picture below – not very attractive is it? Do you see all the branches sticking out from the sides in a weird way? Well… they'll look perfect with the final step ;-)
As the final step, I trim the tree!... No I mean, literally!!... hahaha :-D I know how that sounds, but this became our Christmas tree tradition since 2013. It actually has a pretty funny story behind it, which you can read about on our blog post.
Anyway…let's get back to trimming our tree... I grab my small pruning shears and start pruning our Christmas tree. Since I am not Edward Scissorhands, I always start taking off small pieces one at a time, so I don’t mistakenly cut more than I should. And if any of the ornaments needs to be moved to a different branch, I also do that during pruning.
The picture below was taken halfway through this process, and you can see how much I had pruned. It already looks much better!
When I feel like the tree has a better shape, I stop pruning and start cleaning the needles off the floor. Next, I place the tree’s skirt, then tuck the nicely-wrapped presents under the tree, aaaannnddd TA DA!
Now that looks like a nicely-trimmed Christmas tree, doesn’t it? 
All the gaps are filled as much as possible and the branches spread out more evenly!
I’ll admit that it is definitely not like a designer tree. As our ornaments are pretty simple we tend keep our tree decoration also simple. But what we love about our Christmas tree is that it speaks to us – loud and proud, as it tells the fun and sweet memories of our lifetime. And I don’t think any designer tree could ever beat that!
I hope you enjoyed our ornament tradition and Christmas tree decoration.  Do you have any Christmas traditions that you’d like to share with us? You know I would love to hear all about it!

To see more: http://thenavagepatch.com/navages-christmas-tree-decoration/

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