I put a ladder against one of the fir trees in the front yard, and climbed up with the large loppers and took the end off one of the branches -- about a six foot piece -- to use as a tree.
We don't much relish the use of good agricultural land to grow millions of little trees that will be cut off in their childhood, so to speak, to grace living rooms as trophies and then clog landfills and sidewalks. And the alternatives -- lugging around a big pot with a little bonsai, or buying a tinseltown tree made in a sweatshop factory in Szechuan and dragged, with thousands of tons of identical tinseltrees, across the Great Pacific Garbage Patch by a ship running on the juice of long-dead dinosaurs -- just don't appeal to us either.
I have suggested, year after year, that we just have a bowl of soup and a slice of bread and give thanks and sing a few songs and we're done, but it hasn't gone over well with the younger generation. The tree-branch tree is a compromise which has found acceptance.
It makes an odd sort of tree -- granted -- but we can keep it straight enough by tying it to hooks in the wall (we have real walls) with some green yarn and giving it a nip here and there with pruners. Looks all right at night with its lights on, which we hang strategically to give it that symmetrical look.
Daughter and I hung some globes on it that have been in the family for decades, and topped it off with "Susie Snowflake," an angel my mother made for the family tree fifty-eight years ago. Susie has aluminum foil wings and a lace robe, and two stars gummed back-to-back on the end of a toothpick form a wand -- I guess she's a cross between an angel and the good witch Glinda.
Gifts were not over-fancy, for which I'm thankful, and my favorite by far is this simple double frame from Daughter, with a photo of Beloved and me, taken by her at Tall Son's wedding a couple of years ago, on the left, and an appropriate W.S. sonnet (#138) on the right --
When my love swears that she is made of truth-- appropriate because we're pruning all over and turning grey ... and neither quite has the heart to tell the other ...
I do believe her, though I know she lies,
That she might think me some untutor'd youth,
Unlearned in the world's false subtleties.
Thus vainly thinking that she thinks me young,
Although she knows my days are past the best,
Simply I credit her false-speaking tongue:
On both sides thus is simple truth suppress'd.
But wherefore says she not she is unjust?
And wherefore say not I that I am old?
O, love's best habit is in seeming trust,
And age in love loves not to have years told:
Therefore I lie with her and she with me,
And in our faults by lies we flatter'd be.