When my husband and I married, we knew, like a lot of couples, that we’d be joining our different backgrounds, life experiences, and other marriage-like things. Obviously there would be a learning curve. But little did we know how deep those differences ran. You see, he came from an artificial Christmas tree family, and my family was real tree all the way. Oh, the impending drama.

Our very first Christmas together, during the honeymoon phase if you will, we opted for a table-top artificial tree. It served its purpose. We bought colorful ornaments, a tree skirt, and of course a star for the top. We even bought those pine tree scented sticks to complete the scene, but the smell just wasn’t quite the same. Fast forward to Christmas number two. Picture this: two sleep-deprived, first-time parents, newly moved into a grown-up, full-sized apartment. We were determined to make our baby’s first Christmas a memorable one. But now our puny little tree from the previous year just wouldn’t cut it, so we went ahead and took a 7ft, pre-lit, artificial tree from my brother-in-law. Sure, we had to buy more ornaments to cover it, but it was free, and really that was half the battle won when you have a 4 month old. But honestly? I still felt something was missing.

The next year was spent running around after a toddler, and the holidays came around way quicker than we expected. But, this would be my year. This would be the year I made my case for a real Christmas tree. We already picked apples in September, and pumpkins in October. Why not find a farm where we could pick our own tree? It would be an adventure, and we were always up for a good adventure. Plus, to me, it wasn’t really Christmas without a real Christmas tree. Soon after, my husband was on board. We did our research, and found a family-run Christmas tree farm in upstate New York. It wasn’t too far away, and they had hot cocoa and snacks. When we got there, we wandered through the rows of beautiful trees, looking for ours. It SMELLED like Christmas. The Christmas of my youth!

When we found THE tree, my husband went to find someone who would cut it down and trim the bottom for us. I waited at the tree with our daughter, admiring how full and perfectly shaped it was. I couldn’t wait to get it home. Once we got it cut and trimmed about two feet off the trunk, it was time to go. We got home, and excitedly brought the tree through our front door, stood it up, and quickly realized we forgot rule number one of Christmas tree buying: measure your ceiling clearance.

After a few minutes of panic, hubby realized he could saw off more of the trunk to get our tree to fit in the apartment. With each pass of the hand saw, though, he would grouse that we must have moved to a different tree while he was gone. Not possible, I insisted. This back and forth continued… every year after, and still to this day, we laugh about the time we unwittingly picked a ten-foot tree and had to cut it all the way down so it would fit. This memory of our first real tree is woven into the tapestry of our family memories. And even though she was too young to remember the experience herself, our daughter knows the story and laughs about it, too.

Since that fateful year, we have only gotten a real Christmas tree each year. We had to find a new place last year since we moved into our first house, but the memories keep coming. Our family is officially a real Christmas tree family, and I couldn’t be happier about it. But don’t even get me started on the still-raging tinsel argument…