The Most Beautiful Christmas Tree


For a week I’ve been seeing beautiful christmas trees flood my instagram feed. I’ve been especially drawn to those stuck in a galvanized bucket with white lights. Simple, natural, beautiful.

Last year with traveling during the holidays we didn’t put up a tree,  so I was especially looking forward to it. Been under the weather this week and finally got the energy to go out and get food and on impulse swung by Lowe’s and picked out a 5′ tree that was small enough I could carry with one hand. I really needed a pick me up. Just the thought of my house smelling like pine made me feel better. When Kevin got home, I had it set up in our keeping room with a single strand of color lights blinking for extra shock value.

Saturday morning we brought down ALL the boxes, I turned on the sappy Christmas channel on pandora, made another cup of coffee and set out to find strands of white lights.

Every year I think “I’ve got way too many Christmas boxes. I need to go through these and  donate things I don’t use or want anymore, how do I have so much Christmas stuff, why do I have so much Christmas stuff” Any of this sound familiar at your house? But this year I really am going to do something about it.

My thoughts were, I would go through all the ornaments and sort them into boxes. I wanted to pick out the boys ornaments and put in a gift box under the tree for them to have. And then go through the rest of my ornaments and decide what to keep and what to get rid of.

On our tree this year, I was going to put old vintage ornaments with big white lights. I had a pom pom “ribbon” that was white that I decided to tea dye to tone it down. It had great potential for a garland. My plans were sounding really good and I had the white lights on and Kevin walked in and said, what no colored lights. Nope it’s going to be a pretty tree this year.

This all came to a screeching halt when I opened the first box of ornaments. On top of the ornaments, lay the boy’s santa and elf hats they always put on first thing when we decorate the tree. They weren’t here to wear them.



I started sorting the ornaments, holding each one in my hand recalling who made it and tucked it into their box. Reminiscing on years past.glassesornament pickle DSC_0042

I had a few ornaments in both their boxes when I came across the first one with a picture on it.

godlovesmethen another….drewornamentand yet another chad2000

Exactly the same time “December”…a favorite song from my all time favorite Christmas album came on Pandora. Amazing words.


I can only explain  that I became engulfed in emotions. It occurred to me that this is the first year both the boys are gone that I’m left decorating the tree alone.

This stinks.

I swam around in these emotions for a while till I decided this wouldn’t do. I changed the channel to Chicago and I dug out those colored lights, and I started putting the boys handmade ornaments on our tree. They look so beautiful!! They still belong there! I have the rest of my life to have a “pretty” tree why rush it.

I remember the first time I wasn’t home to decorate the tree with mom. I also remember the first time mom had a “pretty tree”. I said where are all our ornaments. She said I wanted to have a pretty tree this year.

You know, it had never dawned on me until then that it wasn’t a pretty tree. I knew what she meant, we all do. But really it shouldn’t be that way! It really shouldn’t. I finished decorating our tree without shedding too many more tears.. It won’t get lots of likes on instagram or Facebook or impress our friends.beautifultree

But our tree is decorated with branches full of memories. And that is the most beautiful tree there can be.


PS: Next year we are putting it up Thanksgiving when the boys are home.

PS 2: Kevin rarely if ever reads a blog post before I post it, but this one he did. With tears in his eyes he told me he never wants a “pretty tree”.



22 thoughts on “The Most Beautiful Christmas Tree

  1. I think your tree is most beautiful. I have beautiful ornaments too which my son just groans at when he sees them!! Still there for now!! Merry Christmas! God is good. XOX

  2. Well you did it again my sweet young friend! Here I sit with tears in my eyes! This was beautiful, straight from the heart! AND, your tree is beautiful! Who cares about shiny baubles, your sweet memories of yesterday are far better! Wishing you and yours a blessed Christmas. Much love. Jo

  3. How precious! Thanks for sharing your personal memories and feelings. Tugs at my heartstrings! The boys are going to love it!! .

  4. Kate, I am a sucker for those simple trees too, with white lights and maybe a woodland theme and stuck in a bucket so damp sand with pine cones at the base.
    Have I ever had one? Nope. It starts out as being about this Christmas, but then they all begin to meld together and it makes me feel full of the spirit, Christmas and otherwise! Your tree is a real work of art.
    Merry Christmas!

  5. Katey dear, that was so sweet. I call my tree a nostalgic tree with ornaments from our foster kids in the ’70s, gifts over the years,-friends, nieces and nephews, a little wreath that Tina Greer had her kindergarten class make to hold a photograph (I put my cat’s photo in mine). Nearly every ornament has a story and I am a little sad when no one is here to help me so I can share the boring stories that on one wants to hear!! Since this is the 49th year to put up a tree, I realized that the glass balls from our first tree will be considered antiques next year!!!

  6. Beautiful story, Katey! I’m missing our old ornaments this year. I still put most of them on my tree. It was LOADED last year. Such a contrast with this year. I hope your Christmas is full of wonderful memories, some old and some new!

    Karen in Japan

    • Karen, hey Karen from Japan, thanks so much! I have been working on another paper star I think you’ll like for your tree there. Hope you have a safe trip & a wonderful Christmas! Katey

  7. I think your tree is beautiful and I agree with your mom, the boys are going to love it. I had a “pretty tree” one year, when Kevin was home and he didn’t like it. That was my last,”pretty tree”.

  8. I love your tree! No “pretty trees” in my house either. When we were a military family and moving so often I only got unbreakable ornaments. One year I got ambitious and painted three sets of wooden ornaments. My plan this year was to sort them into 3 piles and pass them along to my children. Uhhh, I think I will wait until next year.

  9. Katey,
    What a lovely, poignant story and a stunning, memory-filled tree – what could be more beautiful?!?! Such sweetness at a time when we need it most. Even though they boys may have not been there physically, all those delightful ornaments made though the years – they were in fact “with” you.
    Sending the biggest, squishiest hugs! Thanks for sharing your precious tree with us, when I see it, I see love on every branch!

  10. Katy, I decided a long time ago that I loved my beautiful tree with the many hand drawn ornaments and picture ornaments made at school and church. I haven’t experienced the gulp moment yet because well you know. I completely understand your feelings about the beautiful tree and the understanding you came to as well. I think this is my favorite of all your blogs. Love you bunches!

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