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It’s time for the biggest debate of the holidays (unless you’ve got Trump supporters in the family): When does one put up a Christmas tree?

At a Friendsgiving Thanksgiving last week, sitting around the table with friends, I made the mistake of saying, “Well, the tree has to be up for Thanksgiving!” to which everyone objected.

“It’s the weekend after Christmas,” insisted Sally, pouring gravy out of a cow-shaped gravy boat named Caroline. (The gravy came out of her mouth, if you were wondering.)

“Still too early,” argued Heather, pouring me another glass of red wine. “December 1.”

“How do you keep trees alive that long?” asked Chris through a mouthful
of mac and cheese.
“It goes up the week before Christmas, and not a day earlier!”

I didn’t dare ask anyone when they take the tree down.

I always had two Christmases, one with my mother and one with my father, but Thanksgiving everyone got together at my grandparents’. Thanksgiving dinner was huge, everything homemade from scratch, and when we arrived at their house the Wednesday before, they had their Christmas decorations up.

There were always three trees: one in the living room, proudly placed in front of a large window for all to see; one in the kitchen, decorated entirely with Campbell’s Soup-related ornaments (like the Campbell’s kids); and one on their guest floor, which my grandfather got to do by himself. (Next to it, every year, without fail, was a card table and a Christmas-themed jigsaw puzzle that he and my mother would put together.)

My grandmother had a pickle ornament, and hid it on a different tree every year: I got a special Christmas cookie (often shaped and frosted as a wreath) when I found it. (God forbid she ever finds out what “Find the Pickle” means to me now…)

There were always presents under the tree too: We didn’t open presents on Thanksgiving, but we always gave everyone their presents on Thanksgiving, because we wouldn’t see them again before December 25.

Back at Friendsgiving, I got a second plate of mashed potatoes and stuffing, and said, “I still think the tree should be up for Thanksgiving, since everyone gets together and can see it.”

“So you’ve already put yours up?” Sally asked from the kitchen, getting ready to break out the desserts.

I hadn’t, not yet. “The people who sell them on the street up by my apartment haven’t set up shop yet.”

“So even the vendors aren’t selling trees yet?”

“Just not the ones up by me,” I pouted. “Is there more wine?”

I didn’t push it further, instead letting the conversation lead to America’s ever-early release of Christmas music in stores and restaurants, and then to whether the “Downton Abbey” movie was worth seeing or not (it is). I made a mental note to take my ornaments out from storage when I got home—just so I’d be ready whenever the tree vendors do show up.

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