By Terry Bell-Aby, Realtor, CNE, Luxuxry Simplified Real Estate
I had always been a "real Christmas tree" snob. And, although I see the irony in it now, at the time I was resolute in my devotion to "only a real tree," although not of the "we must cut it down ourselves" ilk. I would never have a “fake” tree, I declared - that was until the year I arrived home after a week away, to discover that my cat had been nibbling on the tree all week and had "been sick" all over the hand cross-stitched, tree skirt and destroyed many of my favorite vintage ornaments. On that day it was easy to utter a "no more trees" proclamation. We were usually traveling anyway, from our home on Martha’s Vineyard to be with family in Pennsylvania for the holidays each year, and leaving a live, decorated tree behind was always bittersweet. So, for the next 10 years, I decorated the house, but used an ornament tree to enjoy a handful of cherished ornaments and dispensed with the live trees.
After we moved to Charleston with the cat, who was still with us but slowing down (bless her, she died last year at 18) I thought again about a tree. Right after the holidays one day in January, I decided to rethink the tree situation. I was also 10 years older and began to think about an artificial tree. I went back and forth and wrestled with the idea and then finally thought, "what if instead of looking for the most lifelike “fake” tree, I embraced the artificial by being transparently artificial?" Don’t pretend it’s not fake – see the humor in it! As a Realtor, I always ask buyers and sellers that if something is not working, try thinking about the opposite position. If they only want to see brick homes on James Island, I sometimes send them properties in West Ashley that might fit the bill. If their sofa is the wrong size for every home they see, perhaps I inquire, "if a new sofa is cheaper than paying for more square footage?"
But, how best to do it? To think out-of-the-box about a tree that comes in a box. The answer of course, was Christmastreemarket.com. Oh the colors! The all-white tree reminded me too much of the snow I had recently escaped from Martha's Vineyard. The silver trees were reminiscent of when my aunt had one (back in the day) and she used a tree wheel of assorted colors that projected onto it's glittery surface. Pink was definitely not my style, and the upside down one made me dizzy. Then I saw the tuxedo black tree. I loved decorating for Christmas with blue, white, and silver trimmings, and typically avoided the traditional green and red. It occurred to me that those less traditional colors would be quite elegant on a black tree with white lights. With a click of the mouse the black tree was on its way.
In November, my mother-in-law Helen came to visit for Thanksgiving. We had often gone shopping together on Black Friday so Thanksgiving dinner seemed the perfect time to bring up the tree. I knew I wanted to shop for the tree and get some special new decorations to set off its dramatic color, so I told the story of my unique tree waiting in the attic for its big reveal. My husband asked me, “What are you, some kind of pagan?!” And, while my husband found some words Helen was, in fact, speechless. All of my in-laws find me to be quirky, but this black tree was outside the box ... even for me.
The next day we found white and crystal beads for the garland, a super sparkly white wreath ornament, turquoise snowflakes, and several boxes of mixed silver, aqua and navy balls – some in matte and some glittery. After I picked up a few other "glam" items, I found some crazy looking silver and white balls attached to long picks meant to be tucked into the branches. Every year now for Christmas in Charleston SC, I delight in finding a new and unique ornament or two to add to the mix. I have since discovered that purple adds another interesting contrast and I make sure there’s a pop of it here & there among the branches.
NOTE: In real estate, the beauty of discovering the home that is perfect for you sometimes is simply a result of being able to see the possibilities in a house that you might previously have said "No way" to. If 2018 is the year you plan to start looking for a new home let me help you think "outside the box" and find a home that speaks to you ... just like a tuxedo black Christmas tree did to me.