So here's the thing: I love christmas. Ridiculously much. Growing up we were never ever taught to believe in santa claus, and certain siblings who shall not be named took great (and unseemly) delight in being the child who corrected the misinformation of all the other little children in Sunday School.
But we definitely believed in Christmas. My sisters and I loved decorating and pulling out cherished ornaments year after year, despite our despair over how our tree never looked as beautiful and matched as the trees we saw in pictures. In fact, the first Christmas after our mom left, we spent the entire grocery budget for one week on ornaments that ALL MATCHED and our tree that year coordinated from head to toe. It was glorious. (Yes, I am now one of those people who not only has a completely matched tree, but also coordinates all my wrapping paper to match my decorations.)
There were years, however, when the celebration thereof was a little touch and go. I mean, there were always presents, no matter how simple, But some years the parental units decided that having a Christmas tree was unChristian, seeing as the use of such originated with a pagan holiday. The first year they did this we rummaged around and found a strange-looking fake tree that someone had given us. It was kinda missing the top, but we MacGuyvered together something that looked rather tree-ish, and all was well. The next year? They once again decided we were not having a tree. So. Being the resourceful children that we were, we appropriated a house plant. And not just any house plant: the Norfolk Pine.
This particular plant was prickly, as tall as I, heavy, and generally a blot on the face of mankind. We hated it. So we decorated it.
Strings of lights around each of the two layers of branches, ornaments hanging from the tip of each branch. It out Charlie-browned the Charlie Brown special. Seriously. It was the most sad, pathetic tree you've ever seen in your entire life. But we happily piled presents beneath it and when guests came over and looked confused as to what that abomination in our living room was, we cheerily explained, "Mom and dad wouldn't let us get a tree this year, so we created one!"
Shortly after removing the ornaments from the Evil Plant after New Years, it died for some reason. I'm sure the burned spots from the Christmas lights had *nothing* to do with it. I, for one, was already trying to plan where we would get an umbrella skeleton to decorate for the next year.
However, for some reason, my parents always made sure we had a live tree after that.