advent calendar countdown: december 12 (tree it!)

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Leggi questo post in: Italiano

before starting: i am still speechless over what happened yesterday in Newtown. it brought tears to my eyes and a great pain to my heart. if you are concerned about just how easy it is to obtain a gun, consider signing this white house petition to address gun control.


yeah, i know that i’m not going quite in order with my countdown, but i just couldn’t wait to show you our 2012 christmas tree.

i grew up always having a huge christmas tree that we’d pick out and have cut on the spot. they’re gorgeous and smell so good that way, but they leave loads of needles around and then they make me so sad when they dry out. when i moved to italy i started putting lights on a ficus tree that i had in my apartment. it seemed like a more italian alternative to the pine tree. then we moved and the ficus was too big to keep inside, so i began numerous years of keeping a dwarf pine tree in a pot on the balcony that i’d bring inside during the holiday season. except those poor trees just couldn’t handle the temperature changes and three times they dried out.

this year i decided not to doom another tree, nor buy one out of plastic. i’d seen some people put lights and ornaments on a big bare branch, so i asked a friend who had lots of olive trees if he happened to have a big branch for me. he had to prune the trees around that time, so he put a couple aside for me and i chose this one.

ah, how lovely it is to have a branch full of leaves and smaller branches! it looks just like an actual live tree! then it gives a nice feeling of lightness as opposed to the compactness of a pine christmas tree.

we put on two strings of lights, one red and the other white, both of which blink. here’s the tree with just the reds on, just the whites…

… and both at the same time! we also put up our ornaments. in italy there’s the tendency just to put up colored balls, but in the united states it’s much more typical to put up all sorts of things on the tree and kids often make handmade tree ornaments. in the picture at the beginning of this post you can see some of ours, among which a heart cristina made and a dragon that my mother painted for me when i was little, very golden as i’d requested, and a crystal star my aunt gave my husband and me for our first christmas as a married couple. i love having such a variety because every ornament has its own story and reminds me of some loved one.

unfortunately the star i made last year for the top of our tiny tree will no longer be adorning a tree top because the olive branch doesn’t have one. so i just stuck it where it could stay without falling. i made the star with those neapolitan pastry trays. i made a cone and stapled it shut. then i made a double-sided star and glued it on.

ok, so how did i set up the tree? i cut a 2-liter plastic bottle and put it inside a terracotta pot. then i put rocks all around the bottle. you could also use potting soil and then reuse it for some other plant afterwards, or even sand, but i already had these rocks, so i used those.

i stuck the branch inside the bottle, filled it with more rocks and then put some water in. i was surprised at how much water could fit in there.

i obviously didn’t want to waste the rest of the bottle. i put a ping pong ball in it…

… and while i was setting up the tree, the kids ran around playing that game where you try to catch the ball inside the bottle. (i probably should have taken off that label. i’m certainly not trying to sponsor any water in plastic bottles!)

you might be wondering why the tree is on a table. if it were on the floor, it would be promptly dumped over, pulled apart and totally destroyed by a certain little boy we know. 😉 the tree wasn’t very stable, though, so we ended up tying it to the wall with three lengths of twine in three directions. now it’s much more stable, but still not safe from the little “destroyer” who happens to be a great lover of rocks!

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