Living Ornaments: Slice of Life Haiku-A-Day Challenge #18 #sol18

When I was a child, I thought that artificial Christmas trees were the strangest things. Why display a plastic tree when the real thing was all around, just waiting to be turned into Christmas?

The only people I knew who had artificial trees were the very elderly, and it seemed a sad sign of giving up on life to switch to a tree that came out of a box and had to be screwed together.

Maybe I would have felt differently if artificial trees had been the lush, realistic, better-than-nature trees you can buy today. But in the 1970s, they looked more like Charlie Brown Christmas trees, with their handful of spindly branches and abundant negative space.

I always vowed that I would never have a fake tree. When I was a child, we went out into the woods and cut our own. When I was a teen, we perused the pop-up Christmas tree stands and carefully selected just the right tree. For a few years as an adult, I didn’t have a tree at all, and then I moved onto a country road lined with sugar maples and into a house that was literally two doors down from a Christmas tree farm. It was magic. I loved walking down the road to the Christmas tree farm and cutting my own tree.

And then I moved to South Dakota. Land without trees. (I grew up in Georgia, which has around 250 native tree species, according to the Internet. South Dakota has just 26!) I figured there would be stands where you could buy trees that were shipped from somewhere else, but there weren’t. The local grocery store had a few sad wrapped trees leaned against the building, but they were small and dried out and very expensive. And that’s how I ended up shopping the after-Christmas sales one year and purchasing an artificial tree.

It’s fairly lush and natural-looking. It doesn’t have that good Christmas tree smell, but it also doesn’t leave pine sap stuck to your hands for days. And it’s convenient. The only trip I have to make to get my tree is to the basement.

But the best part of the artificial Christmas tree is that the cats don’t seem to know the difference. A tree is a tree is a tree, and they love climbing it. One of the joys of the holiday season, for me, is happening upon a living, breathing, scrambling tree ornament.

Of course they bend all the branches and knock ornaments off and occasionally knock the entire tree down, and they eat the plastic needles and throw up little green piles all over the house. But I don’t mind the inconvenience when there is the daily pleasure of watching the happiest cats on earth chase each other around, up, and over the Christmas tree.

cats in christmas tree
round eyes peak between branches
living ornaments

zorrotreezorr treetoast in treeoliver in tree



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32 responses to “Living Ornaments: Slice of Life Haiku-A-Day Challenge #18 #sol18”

  1. TammyB Avatar

    I have had a real tree for the last couple of years but it didn’t smell! My hubby and I broke down and bought an artificial this year. It is really cool though! Luckily, no cat climbing in our house.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      It wasn’t until I was an adult and had access to a wider variety of tree that I discovered every tree that looks like a Christmas tree doesn’t smell like a Christmas tree!

  2. arjeha Avatar

    Love your ornaments. We stopped putting up a tree because of the cats and a tree on the floor. When we were kids my dad owned a bar and we would put up a silver tree in there and a rotating color wheel shining on it to change the silver to blue, red, yellow, and green.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Ha! I was Googling 1970s artificial trees this morning to refresh my memories, and there were so many silver and white trees! Brought back lots of memories. We have the tree very securely tired this year because we did have two incidents last year of knocked over trees, and Oliver is such a heavy kitty.

  3. margaretsmn Avatar

    You have a better attitude than I do about cats in the tree. This year my cat decided to use the bad skirts (white sheets) as a little box. Not funny. Needless to say our tree is now skirtless. I love your whimsical pictures of your “living ornaments.”

    1. margaretsmn Avatar

      How did I type “bad skirts” and “little box?” Thinking about the bad cat who turned the tree skirt into a litter box.

  4. Frances B Avatar

    LOL! Too funny. I’m staying with a friend who has a young cat and is loving climbing the 10 ft live tree.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      It’s definitely Christmas for that kitty! It’s fun to see their delight in something new and, even better, something new that needs to be climbed!

      1. Frances B Avatar

        Yes. It reminds me that they are descended from wild creatures.

  5. jarhartz Avatar

    If been enjoying your haiku a day posts, but there is nothing quite like kitties in trees!!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I agree! So delightful to see a little face peeking out!

  6. Juliana Ellington Avatar
    Juliana Ellington

    Your remembrances brought back mine, too. I will never forget the year we–you, me, and Nanny–helped ourselves to a big pine tree in a cousin’s field. I never told him, much less asked permission, for that pine. I do miss the pine scent, but your living ornaments are a wonderful trade-off.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      In my memory, we ALWAYS went onto someone’s land without permission to get a tree! Did it really only happen once?

  7. Terje Avatar

    Your cats pose as magnificent tree decorations. You might win a tree decorating contest.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I keep hoping more than one will get in there at a time. I think 3 or 4 cute little faces poking out between limbs would make a very fine photo!

  8. wahooteacher Avatar

    I love your “living ornaments!” I think the second picture is my favorite!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Zorro has many portraits taken in the Christmas tree, as he’s the most reliable climber. He’s the only one who dares to make it to the very top!

  9. readingteachsu Avatar

    Love those ornaments. We too always cut down the tree and the.n one year we bought a fake one. I still miss the smell, the hunt, and the imperfections of real trees. I have a lot of ornaments and they hide most of the lack of living tree. I feel it’s just a vessel for them.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I really enjoy the imperfections of real trees too. When I was growing up, we had a lot of very large and intricate ornaments, and bare spots on a tree actually made good places for some of the bigger ornaments.

  10. Trina Haase Avatar
    Trina Haase

    Oh, love the photos of your cats perched in your tree! I always wonder about buying a real tree instead of our fake one. How I love the smell!

    And I am enjoying your haiku posts. XO

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Eventually I’ll get caught up again on commenting on your haiku posts! My son asked if we could have a real tree someday, but I think we’d have to move first!

      1. Trina Haase Avatar
        Trina Haase

        No worries! At least someone reads them!

  11. Amanda Potts Avatar

    The pictures are great! And I really love how you love having the cats in the tree – you may be the only person I know of who appreciates that particular cat habit. (Also, I’m loving your haikus though I know I haven’t commented. Sigh. There’s only so much time in the day.)

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I don’t even mind when they knock it down. The tree brings them so much joy, and I don’t necessarily get to see my cats being joyful every day. So it’s a special treat.

  12. onathought Avatar

    Love this! The joy of the cats in the tree… Plus one of your cats looks like my cat, Susie – she passed away this year, and I love seeing cats who look like her… warms my heart.

    Usually people just complain about their cats and Christmas trees… I loved reading your positive perspective! My cats used to love curling up under the tree.. and I miss seeing them there this Christmas!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I’m so sorry about Susie. Our cats are split when it comes to the tree: half of them like to climb it, and the other half just like to curl up underneath.

  13. Elizabeth Avatar

    My cats both ignore the tree completely. I feel very put out.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Goodness, how can they not realize what they’re missing?? I think we have a strong case of copy cat here because I never had a cat interested in the tree until we got Zorro, but after they saw what he could do in, on, over, and under it, they all wanted to try. When you have 9 cats, you really get an appreciation of why we have “copy cat” as an expression.

  14. Debbie Lynn Avatar

    Love your Christmas tree cat pictures.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Thank you! I can’t stop snapping photos this time of year.

      1. Debbie Lynn Avatar

        That’s me 365, 24/7…is there such a thing as a photography addiction?

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