In Germany you usually put the tree up late. German homes are very dry, and many Germans use real candles on the tree. I've always thought the candles were crazy, but most people don't have my kids! I must admit real candles on a fresh tree are lovely. I do love real trees! Anyway, we put our artificial tree up today. Many years we have a real tree, and some years we go with our artificial tree. I would like to say we are saving the environment by not cutting down a tree. That wouldn't be truthful! I want to go to Juergen's dads house for Christmas (in North Germany). I just don't want to deal with a live tree in the house. It would be a fire risk to kept one up when we are not home, and I don't want to take it down before we go. We decorated early so I could give away the boxes of extra ornaments. I have far too much Christmas stuff. It takes up too much of my storage space. I figured that if I wanted to give it away, I had better do that early, when someone actually wants it! My sister and mom are doing the same thing, but I had the idea years ago (I just never followed through on it). Here are photos of some of my favorite Christmas things. Many of them are things the kids have made. I also love the Playmobel. I wish I could say I was in a good mood. Thomas was juggling glass Christmas balls and broke 2. They were not special, and it all got cleaned up. 12 and 13 year old boys just stress me out at times. It's sort of the up tightness you would feel having a bull in a china shop. Most of this stuff is very special, collected over many years. It all brings back the Christmas' past...and they could never understand how sad I would feel if they juggled away my treasures!