Duke the Halls: A Cup of Corporate Cheer

The author's Christmas tree mug waiting to make its debut on Nov. 1. 

The author’s Christmas tree mug waiting to make its debut on Nov. 1.

It’s a few days from November and I can’t wait. I love the time of year September through December, but November and December are my most favorite. Why? Because on November 1, I start decorating for Christmas!

In my family, we have always made it a point to decorate before Thanksgiving so that after the bird is cooked, the Macy’s Parade has passed by, and that last piece of pumpkin pie has been eaten we can start the Christmas season ready! There’s not enough time to decorate to the extent I do and participate in all the Christmas activities I want to do as well.

One of the first things I do to switch over to holiday mode? Change my coffee cup at work. I know – it sounds small but it helps put me in the Christmas mood all day. I regularly change my coffee cup out every few months – something more generic the rest of the year, maybe something summery for June through August.

But come November 1, it’s time for Christmas trees. I did not become a certified Christmas elf, spreading Christmas cheer everywhere I go, by waiting until December to bring out the Christmas cheer. I look forward to that day because it means the holiday season is upon us! It means warm memories, the music, and feeling in the air that comes with the holidays is almost here! I truly feel there is something magical about those two months. And the subtle change of a coffee cup for some corporate cheer is one way it signifies the start of it for me.

So I’m counting down to November 1. It’s almost here and I am ready. My mug is washed. It’s in place to come to work with me. I won’t forget it. And that Starbucks one I’ve been using since July? It deserves a break.

Have a similar special little tradition to get you in the holiday spirit? Email Duke and the other Elves at elves@itsChristmas365.com. Read more holiday posts from Duke.

Spread holiday cheer for all to … read with the It’s Christmas 365 newsletter!

Real or fake? In defense of artificial trees

My tree for 2018 — decorated in all red, green, and gold.

Real or artificial tree?

The age-old debate when it comes to putting up one of the holiday season’s most recognizable symbols.

I’ll tell you now, I’m a fan of the artificial tree. But I have my reasons why!

And it’s not that I do not appreciate a real tree.

In fact, I love them! The organic, unpredictable shape, the smell, the way a real tree just looks…well, real.

Most artificial trees, unless you spend beaucoup bucks, cannot accurately replicate the look of nature.

But again, I have my reasons for choosing artificial.

First and foremost, I start decorating on November 1 and I do not usually take my trees down until the middle or end of January.

That means I need a tree that will last me almost three months.

Real trees are not ideal candidates for that length of festive celebrating.

Second, like any proper Christmas-a-holic, I put up more than one tree every year.

In my house this year I only have three up and decorated.

However, that does not include the other three still sitting in boxes in my basement. I decided to mix things up and redo most of my décor this season.

The other three trees do not match my theme, so they stay tucked away until next year.

But buying five or six real trees every year is not economical. On top of that, watering and maintaining that many real trees is work I do not want to do.

My third reason for choosing an artificial tree is the ability to bend the branches to support decorations and ornaments where I want to put them.

The branches can easily be bent to hold an ornament in place or to move out of the way and allow it to hang freely.

Real trees do not give me that freedom, though.

If the ornament does not fit in a particular location, I’m forced to decide – do I want it to look funny all season or move it? The ease with which I can have the tree bend to look the way I want it to is a definite advantage to having an artificial tree.

But don’t get me wrong – I’m not completely against real trees!

My family has gone out and cut down our own tree several times.

That tree usually sits outside on the back porch. It gets decorated with lights and those large, light-up woodland yard animals like birds or squirrels you find in stores (I like to use Christmas decorations in unexpected ways).

That tree sits in front of the patio door since we do not open it during the winter and we get to look at a tree while eating dinner every night!

The process of going out to cut down your own tree at a tree farm is quintessential Christmas — one I enjoy.

But for practicality, I’ll stick to my artificial trees. It just makes sense for me and my lifestyle.