Splurging for Ugly This Christmas

by Tricia Gillespie

After several years of living on a shoestring budget, I decided that I was going to create a fabulous Christmassy mood in my home this year.  I mean, even the mice are getting tired of the popcorn strung on my tree and our stockings have wear holes because we use them for extra socks throughout the year.

This Christmas would be different.  This year I’d buy real presents and not just re-gift my mother’s work cast-offs, I’d buy a new tree, and even splurge on pretty wrapping paper.  I was so excited.  My husband would surely be impressed and my children would dream of sugar-plums dancing in their heads.

My husband has vehemently hated our tree for several years.  He’s deemed it worse, much worse, than Charlie Brown’s pathetic twig.  He calls it a dollar store knock-off of a folk art nightmare.  Ok, so you can see bark (the cheesy paper mache kind) through the sparse branches, but I never hated it.  I simply don’t like the fact that the tree is skinnier than I am.  When I stand in front of a tree for a Christmas picture, I definitely want the tree to be wider than my behind.

I went to purchase a new Christmas tree last week.  I shopped around online for artificial trees and discovered that they are much more expensive than I’d anticipated.  You know how it is – inflated prices, the economy, moths in my wallet.  Because I didn’t want to spend sixty or eighty dollars on a 4.5 foot tree, I went to The Christmas Tree Shop.  If you’ve ever been to one of these stores, you know it is only one step above the dollar store.  Their motto is “Don’t you just love a bargain?”  Oh, I do, I really, really do.

My daughter came shopping with me.  After fighting our way through the crowds of shopping carts, women cranked on Starbucks, and grumpy old men, I found the perfect tree.  It was only $19.99.  My only problem came when I realized that I couldn’t see it or touch it…definitely a gamble.

I held the box up and wondered out-loud, “Do you think this is ugly?”

A middle aged woman stopped, looked at the picture on the box, and in all seriousness asked, “Honey, are you going for the ugly look?”

Pages from December’s Country Living Magazine flipped through my mind as I shook off the fog of my fabulous Christmas mood.

“Well, no” I said, “but I always seem to hit that mark.”

She looked at me with pity in her eyes, shrugged, and went about her bargain hunting.  What was I to do now?

“Buy the pink tree, mommy.”  My daughter’s full of good ideas.

I put the tree back on the shelf and retrieved it at least four times, finally buying it.  The entire drive home I regretted every penny of the $19.99.  After opening the box and actually seeing the tree, I went into a week-long depression.  This would be the most hideous Christmas ever.  I even considered using the folk art nightmare.  This tree had plastic branches.  It wasn’t even pretending to be real!

I took two Zolofts and decided to dress my plastic branches as if they were genuine Blue Spruce.  I’m happy to report that I love my highly processed, definitely un-organic tree.  I’m in the Christmas mood, Santa is on his merry way, and my children are dreaming sweet dreams.  Life is good no matter the trimmings.

My tree is still skinnier than I am.  I’m considering joining weight watchers, but since I’m not sure how many pounds I’ll need to lose, my tree will have to attend weigh-ins so we can both be measured.

FringeGirl lives on the domestic fringe in denial of her actual age, avidly avoiding scales, and eating too many M&M's. She is mother to two spazzy kids and one electrifying husband.  Her blog, the domestic fringe, is dedicated to finding humor in daily life.  FringeGirl enjoys using her God-given love for the written word to encourage others in the monotony of every-day.  She hopes you find your smile today!

Photo credit: blog.seattlepi.com


  1. I am also the proud owner of a $20 tree...we bought it used and it's missing branches! :)

  2. Yes I found my smile today and I'm laughing. Thanks FringeGirl!

  3. Now that you're a homeschool mom, maybe you should have your kids do a paper mache tree as a project! : ) (I almost shot myself for suggesting it. Sorry.)

  4. One year our adult son looked at our Christmas tree and said, "No wonder all of us kids are in therapy." I feel your pain.

  5. This was a cute post!! LOL! My grandmother (bless her soul) had a blue tree complete with blue and silver ornaments. Then she had one of those lights with the multicolored disk that spun in front of it aimed at the tree so it would 'change colors'. When the yellow section spun in front of the light, the tree was actually green! :) Have a wonderful Christmas.. the traditions are remembered more than the fancy stuff.

  6. That's the spirit! ;)

    So great to have you here, Tricia!

  7. The memories made in the experience will outlast the actual tree. A Merry Christmas is in the eyes, and attitude, of the beholder. Have a very Merry Christmas!

  8. My son has been begging me for a Charlie Brown tree. They sell them in Hobby Lobby for, guess how much......$19.99.

  9. Love you Fringegirl...and the fringefamily.....!
    Great post!

  10. Such a great post! You are amazing.

  11. Welcome to the Ermas!

    Waving and smiling,


  12. Welcome to the Ermas! Merry Christmas!

  13. Great post as always FringeGirl!

  14. FringeGirl, you've brought light and LAUGHTER to this place! But I still like The Domestic Fringe best:)

  15. Will you have to pay membership fees for the tree?
    Great and funny post!

  16. So funny! But now I look at my own tree and realize it can wear skinny jeans. Grrrr.

  17. I love the image of you dragging your tree to weigh-ins. If we didn't laugh, we'd cry, right? Thanks for making me laugh!

  18. Very funny, as usual. Tricia! No matter what the decorations are, Christmas is always fun with kids in the house. merry Christmas, DF.


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