We are not allowed to have real Christmas trees in the tall building we live in. It's a fire hazard. I grew up in Michigan, we always had a live tree. Sometimes they were crooked and my dad tied a string from the top to a wall to keep them standing straight. I adore the smell of a live tree. And all that it conjures inside of me. Fresh snow. Silent, starlit Christmas Eves. Shining packages on Christmas morning. I love Christmas. My memories run so deep from childhood. My parents made is so very special. And then, as luck would have it, I met a kindred spirit in Lou. No, he surpassed me in his love of Christmas. He WAS Santa Claus, even in July as I've written about before. So. Not having a live tree was a small problem for me. When we married, we lived in his apartment, now our apartment, and live trees were, and still are, verboten. Bah humbug. Our first few years of marriage, we decorated a forlorn norfolk pine, Not quite the same. Then we finally broke down and got the artificial tree. Sigh. I spent quite a bit of time experimenting with "Christmas scents", to find just the concoction that smelled like a real tree. Might I say, none of them really do. Some of them smell like Pine Sol. That said, little by little, our artificial tree became "ours". It became ours with decorations the kids made, and a tradition my folks started, of sending each boy an ornament each year, following the same theme through the years, a bear for Drew and a Santa for Damon. With just the right amount of lights and lots of ornaments, and real pine cones buried in the branches, it passes. Actually, it does quite well. There is only one problem with the artificial tree, and that is the assembling of it. It comes in probably fifty or more pieces. Not my job. It was always LOU'S job to put the tree together, and the lights on. I liked to swoop in for the fun stuff, that being the ornaments. I hate assembling this tree. It's been five years now since Lou did it, I realized that this year. Four years since he got sick. So, the last time he put this darn thing together was five years ago. You'd think by now I'd be better at it, but I am not. Each year, we haul the box out of storage, and it sits there for a bit before I get the energy to attack it. All those branches to put in order! Ah, but there is a trick to it. And Lou saw to it that we would always put the tree together just right. Because, you see, he COLOR CODED the branches, as you can see from this pic! I laugh each year as I lay them out. I curse the darn thing, and then I laugh. That was Lou. I complain about this tree, and this year, I actually thought twice about the Martha Stewart pre lit tree on sale ( don't get me going on the lights, that, too, was Lou's job, of course!). No, I"ll stick with this one. It's now 23 years old. You wouldn't know it. Once it's covered in lights, bears and santas, you wouldn't know it. Thank you, Lou, for helping us put the tree together.