Why I Traded My Traditional Christmas Tree for a Bright Pink, Plastic One

published Dec 10, 2022
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Living room with gallery wall, sofa, and pink Christmas tree
Credit: Sarah Magnuson

A couple years ago during my first pandemic Christmas, I decided it was time to trade in my worn out faux Christmas tree. By November 2020, I’d been holed up alone in my one-bedroom apartment for about nine months, uncertain if I would be able to head home just 90 miles north of Chicago for Christmas with my family. I figured if I was going to spend the traditionally communal holiday in such an unusually siloed fashion, I might as well indulge myself.

Enter the bright pink tree. I didn’t seek out the retro pink tree… I like to believe the pink tree chose me. I came across an affordable option online and a quick dive through the reviews was enough to satisfy my curiosity. Standing at six magnificent feet, a bubblegum pink tree has never been more affordable at just $84.99. Within a few days, the tree was delivered and assembled, with lights strung and homemade ornaments on each bough.

At the time, the bright pink plastic tree was a quirky salve for all that was going on during 2020. I was throwing anything at the wall to see what would stick. Some of those healing remedies faded away (don’t invite me to another virtual murder mystery party ever again, please), but many, like my tree, remain.

When it comes down to it, clicking “add to cart” on that tree was the first milestone in my adult life when I actively chose a tradition for myself. And as time marches on (pesky how it does that!) and my family evolves, adding a husband here and a sister-in-law there, the tree is a reminder to cherish the traditions that work for you and to create new ones where a breath of fresh air is needed. 

You see, the pink plastic tree is for folks who crave a display of those tasty trendy butter board spreads, but who also want their old-school favorites, like delicious minty Grasshopper cocktails. It’s for those who dream of spending the holidays baking cookies at home and handwriting holiday cards, but who scrap the plans at the last minute to binge all the “Home Alone” movies. It’s for people who kneel at the altar of Christmas Queen Mariah Carey but who also privately sob to Rosemary Clooney’s “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” 

Credit: Sarah Magnuson

I am, obviously, describing myself. Today, my quirky plastic tree is lit up in the home I now share with my husband Ryan. It’s covered in the cute and whimsical little glass ornaments I’ve collected through the years (a glittery sushi roll! A Chinese takeout box! A cowgirl boot!) and Ryan’s homemade ornaments of yore (so many cereal-centric crafts). It’s standing next to the couch we splurged on for our new home, which of course is covered in crocheted hand-me-down blankets. It twinkles lovingly while we play Kacey Musgraves’ “A Very Kacey Christmas” album on vinyl, her Texan twang adding new life to classic Christmas covers.

The thing about a bright pink plastic retro Christmas tree is that it’s the perfect juxtaposition. It marries the best of Kitschmas past with the buzz of the present. No matter where I find myself this Christmas or the next, I hope to always bring the best of the season with me and continue carving out new traditions that add even more merriment to the holiday.