Each October, we have a conversation or two about our mixed feelings about having a Christmas tree. As we live in Los Angeles and nowhere near a Christmas tree farm, we have purchased our Christmas tree from our favorite nursery, where the trees arrive by truck from Oregon in early December. Years earlier, we tried a living tree, but it didn’t turn out to be the best experience as the tree came with a fully populated ant city hidden inside its roots. This October, when we learned that a deadly plant fungus was spreading across the country via Fraser Firs, http://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/201111/grapple.aspx(our favorite choice for a tree) we decided we would try to come up with an alternative to our traditional tree that would still allow us to continue our Christmas tree tradition. Inspired by a friend’s ingenious re-use of an inverted tomato plant support, which she decorated with lights and ornaments, we tried something similar. I found a tree-shaped metal arbor that we decorated with not just lights and ornaments, but magnets. Natalie declared it “odd but definitely charming” and “the kind of Christmas tree Luna Lovegood in Harry Potter would probably have.” At night, from outside our house, it is the loveliest sight. During the day, it looks like a piece of conceptual art, which doesn’t require as much space or water as a Christmas tree. When I brought it home, I reassured William and Natalie that we could always use it in the garden for our summer crop of green beans. But we’ve grown fond of it as our Christmas tree and plan to use it again next year, with a few variations on our decorating scheme.