Epstein Barr Christmas tree ornament.
Growing up we had a plastic tree that looked so obviously fake that it was mortifying. So much so, I never invited friends over for the month of December lest word of this “tree” got out to the general public. Hell, I didn’t invite anyone over for January, either, because that sucker was still up into February some years. I swore back then that I would only have a real tree when I was grown up and on my own and I would take it down the day after Christmas.

My first year of medical school, as I began wracking up the close to $100,000 debt for my education, I decided it was time for my first tree. So I went to the local home and garden store, in this case, Home Depot, and found that while I had enough money to buy a tree stand I did not have the money to purchase the actual tree. 

This was a problem.

Instead, I purchased a scrawny, pathetic little thing that measured maybe a foot and a half high for $10. It was a little seedling in a red plastic wrapped pot that was sprayed with glitter on the branch tips. I consoled myself by saying that I could plant it afterward and would not have to live with a murdered tree on my conscience. It was so flimsy, though, that any ornament, even those hollow blown glass balls, sent it drooping, bending over to kiss the tabletop. 

Ultimately, that tree never did get planted. I lived in an apartment after all. There was no place to plant it. While I could have taken it to my parents home and planted it in their yard, that would have required explaining the reality of my first tree to them after my many years of boastful scoffing. So far as they knew, my tree was a magnificent specimen of Yuletide cheer and I was going to keep it that way.


Pride made me kill that tree and after a few months, when it had finally turned all brown and dessicated, I threw it into the back dumpster to hide the evidence.

Incidentally, my parents still use the hideous plastic monstrosity of my childhood. It gets barer every year as bits and pieces fall off but it is still recognizable as a tree. That thing may just outlast us all.

(The photo above is one of the ornaments on my tree. Care to hazard a guess as to what exactly it is? Hint: It is an infectious partical and it cracks me up every time I look at it!)


115 thoughts on “Ornamental

  1. Also, my first tree was someone else’s tree — a massive one, covered in candy canes, in a house no one should’ve lived in. My first tree that was my own was Charlie-brown-like, after years and years and years of my parents having MAGNIFICIENTLY decorated trees (My mother goes all out. Fake tree, but who cares? It’s gorgeous) mine looked… Utterly pathetic, until someone made me a tree skirt, and I found a bunch of garland that matched, and then it filled out, and I kept that thing up until June the following year. Then I didn’t put it back up until a few days before Xmas that year — I never could get the timing right.

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  2. For the last few years we’ve had a fake behemoth, with tons of tips for tons of ornaments and large under-space for all the various gifts.

    Now, we have a 3 ft tall tiny tree because our house is currently in shambles and we don’t have the room for the huge one, plus the cats are dicks. When they’re a little older, we’ll be able to put the other one back up.

    I hope.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My mother used so much tinsel on ours you could barely see the fake green. That fake tree went with us to every house and apartment we moved to. I’m certain there’s hidden tinsel in every one, lol. I rarely had anyone come to my house because is was always embarrassed about our living circumstances as compared to all the people I went to school with, not to mention the fact that I’d have to explain why we moved again. The tinsel was just icing, lol.

    We use that crazy old, fake tree here now, and for a long time I would decorate the tree with my girls….and then redo it when they went to bed. It had to be just right (no tinsel!). People come here on Christmas Eve, after all. Also, my house is small and old. The walls have cracks, the carpet is old, the cabinets are old, and we’ve lived here so long, it needs updating again. The embarrassment is rough to overcome. Pride is a tough thing to face.

    Now, more than half of the decorations are from my childhood days as well, including ones as far back as kindergarten for me, and on through my own children. I let them decorate it and it’s hideous and I don’t care! The house thing is tough to sort out, but I know this…it’s not perfect, but it’s mine. It’s been mine for 19 years and I’ve built a family life in it. To hell with what anyone thinks about how it looks. It feels like home to me. And I want to pass on that feeling. I hope we do.

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  4. Your tree sounds like wonderful! You were trying to stay within your budget. Kudo’s for that. We’ve had several “charlie brown” trees as our kids grew up (for the same reason you did) Lack of $.

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  5. As kids, we always had a real tree, and Dad would spray it with Mum’s hairspray to stop the needles falling off too early.
    Hubby and my first Christmas tree was the broken top off one big sucker, and the guy charged us a pound. I had a shock walking the dog yesterday when I saw little trees, no taller than that broken top, in a cheap and nasty looking plastic bucket for twelve quid! Our Christmas tree is artificial, and stands about 12 inches tall, including the fairy. My niece put it together for us when we were in our first house because we didn’t have a lot of room! It’s waiting in the wings to be put out!

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  6. If that’s a germ or an infectious organism, I don’t need to know. It is adorable. ☺ I held out for a live cut tree for 3 decades. We planted a few. Some died, some are taller than our 2nd story now. The husband presented a lovely fake, pre-lit tree after that, and I gave in. It’s nice to not have all those needles to deal with, and the race to get rid of it before it catches fire from drying out. πŸŽ„ I do miss that fragrance, but the last 10 or so were lacking, not sure why ??

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    • My favorite tree was 6ft tall and very narrow. I liked that it didn’t take up much room. It was prelit, though, and the lights only lasted for two years. After that, I couldn’t find the same style of tree again. :-/


  7. I just watched a Ted talk where a microbiologist tossed stuffed toy microbes out at the audience. I appreciate your ‘mono’ tree ornament that much more now that I’ve been immersed in all things microbes (beneficial ones that is!)
    I made cultured beet kvass for the first time and it’s me helping to kick this common cold’s ass πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Lol, my 2d year with no Yule tide decorations. I’m not even bringing our the small white plastic tree I bought and used for 3 years because I felt like a guilty mom for not doing anything to decorate. I’ve lost the guilt, yet I do wonder, well the spirit push me to unbox Christmas cheer ever again? Oh, life and these crazy holidays that spin our childhood ideas into a melange of strange memories.

    Is that really a replica of the mononucleosis disease? Lolololololololol

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Are you SURE that’s what mono looks like? I’d always imagined it with a monocle and a sleeping cap…I don’t think mine was so cute.
    I can’t get down with a bad tree, either. I love the simple tiny trees to be planted, or the grand ones that scrape the ceiling, or even the Charlie Brown sort, real or fake, they gotta look real for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Sometime slightly disturbing about hanging a mono-bug from your Christmas tree. But hey, what ever makes you laugh is good. That’s what memories are for…. and good or bad, Christmas is a creator of them. Plastic tree…… I bet you will end up at some point of your life with either your parents, or one of your own. hehehe.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. What a lovely tale about Christmas. We have a tree too, that plastic one store bought of course but we only used it only once. We don’t put up a tree anymore, we decorate the house with a Nativity set and some hangings on the wall.

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  12. I think every Christmas tree, no matter how big or small; real or fake; green or white; is beautiful. There is symbolism in the tree, even in the ones we put up just to placate someone. Every tree is beautiful. But then again, I love all things Christmas.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Oh, you’ll love it here! We love Christmas trees and every home usually has one, never mind the size. But when I say one, I mean a plastic tree! LOL!!! You’ll have to understand, we’re a tropical country. Pine trees isn’t really abundant here. There are places that do have those, specifically Baguio City, our summer capital. But we don’t uproot the trees, which is the right thing to do, after all, we barely do replanting activities, plus how many years before they actually grow?

    My new family’s tree is years old. I bought it although I just gave the money to my mother and she chose it. About time, too, that we bought one that resembled a living pine tree–it was my request, actually. For many years until then, as practiced by many people, my father would gather branches and twigs, tie them up together, and paint them either yellow or green. I didn’t exactly mind. It was actually more fun putting stuff on it…One of these days, I’ll share pics so you’ll know what I mean πŸ™‚

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  14. I don’t know which is the weirdest… That such an ornament exists, that someone recognized it *immediately* or that you own it. πŸ˜€ (I love it of course.) In a few decades your kids will be writing blog posts, “I couldn’t bring my friends over in December because mom had the tree decorated with plushie infectious agents…”

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