“Mah—uuummmm, (mom, said with two syllables) you gave away our Christmas tree?”

As tradition in our house, we planned to decorate the Christmas tree the weekend after Thanksgiving. Since I committed the cardinal sin after Christmas last year of donating our “very-used mature tree” without consulting each daughter, a replacement tree was purchased a few weeks ago.

Call me a sissy, but the moment I pulled the old tree out of its tub from the barn and was surprised to find that another family — of the small, gray furry Mickey variety — had taken up residence, I allowed this new family to keep it. We had used that artificial tree for nearly

20 years, but I never had an attachment to it. The ornaments are a different

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story, as are the four 40-foot pine trees that we used as live Christmas trees when the girls were little and now grow on the east border of our yard.

The good doctor (also known as the hubby) decided it would be quite entertaining if we bought a 4-foot-tall, skinny chrome Christmas tree — “just to see the looks on their faces.”

Our daughters have grown up hearing stories of the white artificial tree Steve’s family used from the early 1960s. Since the Mangas family worked for Dresser Industries and moved about every three years, Steve said the Christmas tree was a constant in their life.

But as the years passed, the once full, beautiful white Christmas tree with royal blue bulbs and matching blue lights began to “brown with age from Dad’s cigar smoke.” When the needles began to fall out, Steve affectionately referred to the tree as “the white toilet brush.”

Not a Mangas Christmas goes by without a story giving homage to the infamous toilet brush.

So when Steve enthusiastically pulled out “our new Christmas tree” from the box, two of our beloved daughters took one look at the chrome tree then proceeded to give me “the stink-eye,” communicating their disdain for what appeared to be a break in our traditional green tree but also trying to figure out if this was a joke.

The middle, peacemaking daughter Chloe, with her husband, was joyful to be home from chiropractic school finals and gleefully began fluffing the shiny branches.

After enjoying the looks of confusion, Steve pulled out the green tree, and tradition was restored as we reminisced with each ornament hung on the branches — ornaments made in Girl Scouts, Sunday school and elementary school. We shared the history of many ornaments with our new son-in-law Michael — even Phoebe’s 18-

year-old pacifier, which was accidentally boxed up with the Christmas ornaments one year.

Across from our traditional Christmas tree decorated with ornaments, the lighted chrome tree sits in the bay window of our living room making a bright, mirrored reflection. It reminds me of the lyrics to “Silent Night:” All is calm, all is bright.