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No Tannenbaum: My Year Without a Christmas Tree


I can’t have a Christmas tree this year.  There’s just no way.  I’ll be on the road so much for work, it would die–and then likely burst into flames.  And besides, what’s the point of a tree if I’m not ever home to appreciate it?

The problem is, I love the holidays.  My favorite two movies of all time are Holiday Inn and White Christmas.  These are my favorite movies in general, not just my favorite holiday movies (Elf is pretty high up on the list, too.  And yes, I cry at the end when they ‘sing out loud for all to hear’.  Every time.)  I’m playing instrumental Christmas carols as I write this.  And drinking tea (and wishing it was cocoa).

Even with all of the crap that comes along with the holidays–the shopping, the wrapping, the crowds and the consumerism–I love it.  I’m not even Christian and I love Christmas.  I don’t know why.  Perhaps it is because it is the one bright, shining light in otherwise dark and depressing December-in-the-northeast.  Maybe it is a product of having never really left the public school system–Christmas is a big deal in middle school, and I spent the last ten years of my career teaching middle school.  Or perhaps it is because I refuse to grow up and damnit, there’s just something magical about this time of year.

Whatever the reason, it is safe to say that I’m very sad about my lack of tree this year.  There may have been tears.  Or rather, I was sad.  Until I came up with my new plan.

How I am Coping with a Christmas Tree-less Christmas

I started seeing decorated tress in shops in early September.  I’m sure we can all agree that’s a bit excessive.  But lately, trees have been popping up everywhere–in restaurant vestibules, town squares, and even airports across the country.  This year, I’ve decided that every single tree I encounter is my tree.

And, as such, I’m going to decorate them.

photo (13)I just braved the holiday shopping masses at my local craft store and picked up some festive holiday gift tags that, to me, look kind of ornament-esque (see photo, left).  Yet they are light and easy to transport and only slightly glittery (ok who am I kidding–my luggage will be covered with glitter by the end of this.  But oh well.  It’s glitter–it’s festive!)  And any time I encounter an un-guarded tree, I’m going to hang one of my ‘ornaments’ on it.  I’m expecting most trees to be un-guarded.

But wait–there’s more!  Because the holidays are time of sharing, I’m also going to be sharing my trees with all of you–and the interwebs in general.  Every tree that I adorn will be immediately Instagrammed and Tweeted with the hashtag #NoTannenbaum. The resulting photos will be shared in a later post here on The Suitcase Scholar–that is, if all goes well and I don’t get arrested for decoration vandalism.

Further, each ornament has a TinyURL printed on the un-glittery side that links back to this post.  So whoever un-decorates each tree–or whoever discovers a clearly-not-matching-the-rest-of-the-tree decoration on one of these public trees–will be able to read this post and understand what, exactly, they found.  If you are one of those people, please feel free to leave a comment below and tell me what a nut-job you think I am.  Thanks!

It’s a combination blog post/social media experiement/craft project. And a very merry one indeed.

To follow along on my Christmas tree decorating across America adventure, follow me on Twitter or on Instagram, or follow the hashtag #NoTannenbaum to get not just my photos and tweets, but my husband’s as well.  In the spirit of family togetherness (even across miles and time zones) we will be doing this together (can I get an ‘awww’?)  

Or, better yet, share this holiday season with me.  The more trees, the merrier!  Decorate some public trees of your own, and tweet out the photos with the #NoTannenbaum hashtag to join in the fun and festivities.  Then tune in on the 26th of December to find out how this all turned out.  Did people point and laugh?  Was I escorted out of the airport for leaving an ornament unattended?  Did I start a decorating revolution?  All this and more shall be revealed the day after Christmas! 

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