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Our View: Your Christmas tree reveals who you are

In December 1976, just one year after the debut of “Saturday Night Live,” the holiday skit “Killer Trees” was a fresh dose of dark yuletide humor. The storyline was this: When mutant Christmas trees heard the traditional Christmas hymn “O Tannenbaum,” the trees attacked and murdered unsuspecting people with a branch spiked through the heart.

Playing a police detective, a young Dan Aykroyd told his supervisor: “They’re desperate trees, chief! They won’t just settle for tinsel and candy canes. They want blood. A lot of little kids who thought they were getting a bicycle will get a pierced thorax.”

Full and shapely with prices marked down, the trees lured their victims – eager Christmas tree buyers brimming with holiday spirit – before being brought into homes and traditionally decorated with lights, tinsel, garland and ornaments. The trees mostly looked alike, blending in with the expected trimmings of the day. Who could tell the killers from the ordinary Christmas trees? They were undetectable.

Very different from today’s Christmas trees, which can be anything their owners want them to be. Naked branches decked in lights, bows and ornaments. Or the extreme, gloriously gaudy ones, suffocating under décor. It doesn’t matter. Unadorned trees are blank canvases, ready to reflect owners’ tastes and holiday enthusiasm, whimsical nature and, even, their values.

There is no longer one way to be a Christmas tree.

We’re fortunate to live in a place where with a U.S. Forest Service permit, we can walk into forests with hot cocoa in thermoses and fresh-cut trees after children select the most ideal specimens.

Then, style is anyone’s choice. Some trees are only allowed one particular colored ornament or ribbon or candy cane. Others hold memories, sentimentality strung on each branch. Photos, kids’ art, bells, vintage designs, old ski passes (a favorite accoutrement).

Sadly, the trees in only white lights seem to miss out on some fun.

Our hearts practically hurt, though, for the Christmas trees that hold collections. Santas, suns, pigs, giraffes, whatever. More is always coming.

There’s the rustic, minimal farm look, too, with burlap bows. Understated and pragmatic.

And – news to us – after purchasing a cut tree, it outgasses as it dies. That lovely Christmas fragrance is actually the smell of death.

Colors “on trend” this year include all white, Victorian blue, pops of pink, rich shades of green. Metallic silver and metallic gold. And even black, gray and brown.

In urban areas with milder climates, such as the Bay Area, consumers in search of an environmentally friendly tree rent potted trees. After 30 days, these prized, pretty trees are returned to grow and, eventually, be planted.

Abraham Ott of James Ranch Trees doesn’t have potted trees to rent or otherwise. And we weren’t among the first to ask. Instead, Ott delivers elegant native trees, nourished and thriving at Durango’s altitude, for transplant.

When we told Ott about unsuccessful attempts at decorating potted trees, then planting them – only to watch them die – he offered empathy. “The shock of being inside may not be the best,” he said in a gentle way.

He’s busy this holiday season, cutting Christmas trees from larger ones – 10 feet and taller – that are now too difficult to transplant and “hard to muscle into your house.” And Ott is making wreaths.

Whatever your tree is – a decorated houseplant (kids will call you out) or one from a parking lot’s temporary, miniature wonderland forest or artificial – we hope it adds to the particular feelings you’d like to bring into your home. Merry and bright or quiet and reflective. It’s socially acceptable to create your Christmas tree, your way.

And if we see your tree, we’ll know a little more about you. Or at least, we’ll make assumptions.