My Christmas Tree Obsession — Guest Ellen Byron

Thankful for Our Readers Giveaway:  For a chance to win a copy of A Cajun Christmas Killing by Ellen Byron leave a comment below.

Here’s a little bit about the book: Maggie Crozat is home in Cajun Country during the most magical time of the year. But the Grinch has come to stay at the Crozat Plantation B&B, and he’s flooding travel websites with vicious reviews. Maggie ID’s him as rival businessman Donald Baxter –until Baxter is found stabbed to death. With her detective boyfriend sidelined as a suspect, Maggie must catch the real killer or it will be the opposite of a Joyeux Noel for her.

Welcome back, Ellen!

I’m obsessed with Christmas trees. I’m such an inveterate ornament collector and crafter  that my husband once made me pare down my collection because I had a dozen boxes taking up an entire shelving unit in the garage. I got it down to six boxes… but I couldn’t stop collecting so I’m back up to twelve. (Shhh!! Don’t tell him!!)

I can trace this obsession back to when I was twelve years old and my mother announced that we would no longer have a Christmas tree. She’d begun working to help out the family finances and didn’t have the time or energy for it.  Give up the family Christmas tree?! Oh, hell to the no. I told my parents if they bought one, I’d take over decorating and un-decorating it. They agreed to this deal, and a Christmas Tree Commander-in-Chief was born.

I was so proud of my decorating skills that I occasionally submitted photos of the final product to Christmas tree contests in women’s magazines. I never won, which I assumed was because the contests were fixed; there was simply no way my talent with tinsel could go unrewarded. I kept trees up way past their expiration date. When I was in my twenties and living in Manhattan, I left the tree up for so long that by the time my roommate and I took it down the five flights of stairs from our apartment to the street for disposal, it had shed every single needle. That’s not hyperbole. It took me hours to sweep those stairs.


Ornaments are the perfect souvenir when you travel, so I collected them on every vacation. I made them, too. My last batch was a salute to my Cajun Country Mystery series and the state that inspired it.


Sometimes I still hang the Mardi Gras beads I caught in college – I went to Tulane in New Orleans – from the tree branches.

With college tuition looming and disposable income a thing of the past, I’ve cut back on both collecting and crafting. But I do have one project I can’t give up. It was a wonderful gift from friend and fellow needlepointer, Ruth Behling, who knows me so well.


It’ll make a nice ornament, don’t you think?

Readers, do you collect holiday ornaments? Comment to be entered to win a copy of my newest Cajun Country Mystery, A CAJUN CHRISTMAS KILLING.

Ellen Byron writes the Cajun Country Mystery series. In a starred review, Publishers Weekly called her new book, A Cajun Christmas Killing, “superb.” Body on the Bayou won the Lefty Award for Best Humorous Mystery, and was nominated for a Best Contemporary Novel Agatha Award. Plantation Shudders, was nominated for Agatha, Lefty, and Daphne awards, and made the USA Today Bestseller list. She’s written over 200 national magazine articles; published plays include the award-winning Graceland; TV credits include Wings, Just Shoot Me, Fairly OddParents, and pilots. Ellen lives in Studio City with her husband, daughter, and two spoiled rescue dogs.

Readers: Do you have a holiday (any holiday) decoration that you are obsessed with?




The Detective’s Daughter — The Christmas Tree

kimspolicehatKim in Baltimore with the windows open and the heat turned off!

IMG_2882There’s a problem with my Christmas tree…it’s not decorated. We’ve had a light issue this year. My dog, the wonderful Romeo, has decided there is nothing better for an afternoon snack than some tasty wire and crunchy bulbs. We’ve gone through a few strands and the type of lights I like are becoming harder and harder to find. Now I have the tree surrounded with my kitchen chairs. Hopefully, before next week I will be able to hang an ornament or two that won’t become a midnight snack for him.

The last few years we’ve had an artificial tree. I am not a fan, but due to some allergies, they’re the only type of tree allowed in the house. I miss going out in the woods and chopping the tree down with my family. Well, I didn’t actually chop it, my job was to keep hold of the children and make sure they didn’t wonder away with some other similarly dressed family. Everyone looks alike in a parka!

I remember when the kids were small and watching  A Charlie Brown Christmas, they’d ask me why Lucy wanted the fake trees. Who wouldn’t want to tromp around for miles in the bitter cold and cut down a tree and then tie it to the roof of your car praying for the forty minute ride home it wouldn’t end up in splinters on the freeway?
I think I miss our yearly tradition more than I dislike the artificial tree. No matter how cold, I looked forward to the tree cutting event each year. We would all pile in the car; kids, husband, even the dogs, and be on our way. The trip always included stopping for hot chocolate.

KimxmasGrowing up we never had a real tree. I had only seen Christmas trees like that at George Bailey’s house! Our tree was silver and sat on a table in my grandmother’s living room. There was a rotating light that changed the color of the tree from blue to red to green. For years I kept the tree in our family room until the wiring became hazardous.

Christmas trees hold more memories for me than any other holiday symbol. When I see them I can hear my mom playing her Nat King Cole Christmas album on the stereo and I think of my dad instructing us on how thin the sugar cookies should be rolled out. Of course, my favorite memories of are my own children and their delighted faces when the tree was lit or leaving the plate of cookies for Santa.

This year I’ve been milling around a small business that has recently opened. They sell cut trees and wreaths and have a tiny shop filled with handmade and antique ornaments for sale. I sit by the outdoor fire and watch the families with their small children making future memories.
Readers: What type of tree do you have for your celebration? Has it changed since you were little?