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Making the Holidays Your Own

I holiday hard, y’all. And I’m proud, unapologetic and wildly joyful about it.

Look, if you find yourself lurking on Christmas tree websites on December 27th “looking for a good deal for next year,” you are my people.

If you find yourself creeping on home goods stores right after the 4th of July looking for evidence of pumpkins made of pearls, shiny glass reindeer or a nutcracker that looks like Beyoncé, you are my folks.

And if you feel like the best day to hear a Christmas carol is any one of the 365, you are being perfectly logical, and I completely co-sign your brilliance. Also, you and I are now fam.

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Tell me if this feels familiar: Before the first golden leaf spirals to the ground and the fall temperature slips under 55½ degrees for the first time, the first sweater from somebody’s closet comes out, and the first pumpkin-spiced anything is announced, the low rush of excitement that’s been building inside you since last Christmas goes full blast.

Let the holidaying begin, Baby. And for me that starts with trees. Of the Christmas variety. In plural.

Now. I know the rule: Pumpkins before trees. But I am not about that life, and you don’t have to be either. You can decide what gives you the most joy and go with it. Freestyle! Put your special touch on the meaning and magic of the holidays so that it feels just right for you and your family.

Like me. The traditional holiday calendar and order of holidays mean nothing to me. Nothing. While I love what’s important and different about each holiday, in my house all things coexist. To me the holiday season is a whole vibe—a flow of joy from one occasion to the next.

The holiday season is a whole vibe— a flow of joy from one occasion to the next.

So I do the season how it feels good for me to do the season. My Christmas trees go up before my daughter can snatch the last Halloween decoration down for its own safety.

That’s right. Every year my trees go up the last of October or the first of November and come down when I feel like I can let the goodness of the holiday season go, typically somewhere around the Spring Equinox. (That’s in June, right?)

There are four trees in my living room: Goldie, who is lush and green with lustrous golden tips; Firefly, who stands elegantly white in a gold and silver mosaic glass collar near the fireplace; and Art and Laurel, who are each 10 feet tall and white mid-century magic. (More about them later.)

There’s Silver Diva, standing like…well…a diva divine in my kitchen; Silver Belle, who is pure white, dressed in chic silver ornaments and crowned with a white velvet dove in the main bedroom; and Gold Rush standing in her gilded glory in the guest room.

There are five more green trees in the family room, plus a replica of Charlie Brown’s sad little miracle tree. And there’s a unicorn tree in my daughter’s room. Unicorn wears a cap of gay ribbons and has ALL the things.

And each tree tells a family story or projects a wish for peace, reflection, happiness, calm or fun.

Why so many? Because why not??? They bring us joy. What’s wrong with six-, seven-, eight- and ten-foot towers of glowing happiness? Don’t you need you some extra joy? Why not make as much joy as we need? Especially these days.

Don’t you need you some extra joy? Why not make as much joy as we need?

Now. Holiday purists have cast me plenty of side-eye, but I will not be shamed. I love the purity of Christmas tree light and how it transforms the physical space of our house into something almost celestial.

I love how that warm, sparkling light leaves us feeling closer, safer from the outside world and even more together as a family. I love how it amplifies our joy and helps us to believe in good things—whether it’s the magic of Santa, the power of human compassion, connection and goodness or the miracle of faith.

I know some folks be feeling like, “But, Mel! If you put the trees before the pumpkins, doesn’t that mess up Thanksgiving??”

Let me think on that. NOPE.

We think of that day as our Day of Gratitude where we all relax. (No 12 hours of pressure-and-frustration-filled turkey preparation for me!) We make whatever we want and eat it when we want, as long as it feels like a feast to us. And in the soft, enchanting haze of approximately 4,979 twinkling lights, the edges of the world seem softer, our blessings richer, our purpose as a family clearer, our love and connection deeper. How beautiful is that?

In the soft, enchanting haze of approximately 4,979 twinkling lights the edges of the world seem softer…

Remember, fam. Light will always shine out the darkness.

I put up a forest of trees because I want my family to have something beautiful and meaningful to feel, see and experience everywhere their eyes can look. So I create a holiday space that will enchant them, affirm them and encircle them with my love. Okay, with my trees. But that’s the same thing, right? (I see you out there fist-pumping and nodding like, “Yeah, Girl!”)

Now our trees are my family’s favorite tradition. Oh, they fussed at first. “Why so early??” “We’re gonna look weird to our neighbors.” “We don’t even have room for another tree.” And other words that strangely didn’t have any meaning to my ears.

But over time the fussing stopped. Over time these same family members started looking forward to our holiday season with great anticipation, including protesting one year when I briefly thought about just putting up one tree.

We love all our trees. But not like we love Art and Laurel, our ten-foot trees that we named after my partner’s parents, my daughter’s grandparents and two of my best friends in this life.

Art and Laurel loved each other so openly, sweetly and deeply that our biggest gift was just being with them, being in their glow. They laughed freely, dropped kisses on one another spontaneously and put their arms around one another so easily and often we knew they’d each only been made for the other.

They both died in 2015. There was immeasurable grief. After we lost them, I found two towering trees, almost tall enough to touch our ceiling. After we turned on their lights, we knew we had to name them Laurel and Art.

Each year we decorate them with simple, elegant ornaments. We push them close and wrap them together at the bottom with a single ribbon, as if they’re embracing each other. In the twinkling lights we feel peace, joy and comfort from the two towers of light in our lives. We feel embraced by them and one another. And we want that feeling to last as long as it can.

We want that feeling to last as long as it can.

See, it is about the trees and decorating our home with the warmth, glitter and shine of celebration—but it’s even more about filling ourselves with the wonder of the whole thing.

There’s joyous music hanging in the air and us replaying all the “Remember Whens” of holidays past. It’s us making the traditional family foods that help make new memories and us just being together, whether we’re watching our long list of holiday movies and shows, playing word games and holding our puzzle competitions, sharing something we’ve created, writing jokes together or singing, dancing and acting a whole new kind of fool together.

It’s us and how we do. Like I said, it’s a whole vibe.

The holiday season has already started for me. And I wish you all the joy you can grab or make.