Martha Stewart has suggested that this year's Christmas tree reflect the décor in my home. And I'll achieve that by putting our gifts under a dwarf Japanese pine.
The picture on her website certainly looks nice. I just don't think I could fit all my ornaments on it. I'm not even sure a Martha-bonsai would want my ornaments on it.
Like many homes with kids, our tree currently features a complete gross of handmade ornaments, carefully crafted in art classes since 1990. You got your felt handprints and foam core reindeer, and any number of class photos glued to pine cones and clothespins and ceramic reindeers and something that looks suspiciously like polar bear poo on a string.
Like many homes with geeks, our tree is also home to the complete set of Hallmark "Star Trek" Christmas ornaments. This year we added our 20th ship of the line; when we turn on the tree, we're greeted with a chorus of Klingons and Borg and Vulcans wishing us all the merriest of holidays.
There's the Klingon Bird of Prey that lost a gun turret in a dogfight with the Enterprise-E, conveniently hanging two branches down. That's the official story, told by two little boys trying to look innocent as they frantically tried to shove the Christmas boxes back into the coat closet one July.
And, of course, there's the original Enterprise, the Holy Grail of "Star Trek" ornament collecting. Legend tells us that back in 1991 Hallmark only shipped one per store, not anticipating that the nerd population of this country would first swoon, then stampede into their environs to snag one. This Legend of Scarcity drove one nerd into a bidding war on eBay that would end only after $224.36 changed hands and produced a well-received gift for her nerd-husband (I'm trying to look innocent, too, whistling as I try to surreptitiously retrieve the receipt from the Christmas box in the coat closet).
Up in the branches, right under the Christmas angel tree-topper and safe from intergalactic warfare, is the oldest ornament on the tree. It's a blue-backed, glass tear drop, with a hand-painted Santa on the front.
As children, through countless tree trimmings, my older brother and I would dogfight for the right to hang that ornament each year. I would nurse my post-fight aches and pains by spending Saturday afternoons lying on the carpet under the Christmas tree, staring up through the branches to Blue Santa reflecting in the lights.
After Patrick passed away, and mom gave away her tree and ornaments, I put that dogfighting experience to one last use and wrestled Blue Santa for my very own. Untouched by childish hands, it has survived 25 Christmases secured to an upper branch (away from wagging dog tails, too) under the watchful eyes of the angel.
I suppose I could go all artsy and do a tree that reflects the décor of our home. But then I look around the house, filled with a conglomeration of antique embroidered chairs, a neon penguin, a pool table and a Barbie and Ken "Star Trek" set (still in its original packaging!) and I know that I have already achieved holiday decorating nirvana, with nary a bonsai in sight.
Martha will be pleased.
• Ahwatukee Foothills resident Elizabeth Evans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her column appears monthly in the AFN.