I know it seems a little early to be thinking about Christmas but is it? As fast as the world turns these days, it will be here next week. If only life would slow down just a bit but I guess that is not how it works. If you have been around my socials much, you know that Christmas Decorating is a pretty big deal for me. I am passionate about Christmas. (Truth? I am obsessed. I have a 10×10 storage unit full of Christmas Decorations to prove it.)
If you are what I lovingly call “Christmas Crazy” then you will want to mark this date on your calendar. July 10th, 2023 is the official launch date of my Christmas decorating course. “How to Decorate a Christmas Tree like Alisa Berry”. I am sure you are wondering about the name of the course and some of you might even be thinking who the heck is Alisa Berry and why would I want to decorate my tree like her? Bless your heart, you haven’t been here long. In the grand scheme of things, I am no different than you, but I taught myself how to decorate a Christmas Tree like nobody else. I have been doing it for twenty eight years now and I almost hate to admit this, but I kind of get a high from doing it. Shhh, don’t tell everyone or someone will surely outlaw it.
I love decorating Christmas Trees so much that I actually turned it into my full time job as an Interior Designer. Most people don’t know that little tidbit about me but it is true, I was decorating trees long before I was decorating and designing rooms, remodels and new builds. I think when you truly love it, you can’t hide it so it’s best to just parade that talent on the front porch. Which is where this crazy story begins, on the front porch. I have been asked so many times why I love Christmas so much and I generally don’t go into the full details but if you aren’t willing to share it, why do you think God gave you the problem to overcome in the first place? So here we go, back to the front porch.
I grew up like so many other people who experienced a tough life or trauma in childhood. There is always someone at the root of it and for me it was my mother. My mother was a narcissistic alcoholic most of my life. That doesn’t make her good or bad and we aren’t here to decide that today. Let’s just leave it at an unconventional childhood. She had a way of making nearly every Christmas I can recall, memorable but not for the reasons you might think. On more than one Christmas, she was in one of her rages for whatever reason and she yelled that she was sick of everyone and everything and if we all didn’t straighten up she was throwing that damn Christmas tree out the door. Well, I don’t know how you grew up but we straightened up or so we thought. Maybe five minutes later, she literally picked up the tree (it was ugly anyway) and threw it out the front door. Hand on the bible, kid you not. As a child, this was pretty devastating because ugly tree or not, it was our Christmas Tree. Did this mean that Santa was not coming? He did not.
How often does one do something before it just becomes a joke? I don’t know but after a few Christmas trees out the front door and onto whatever porch we had, it became a joke. How long would the tree last this year? It was better that it be a joke than allow the tree to have any meaning in our lives, that is soul crushing. Eventually, you grow up and decide whether or not you will be like your parents or not. Do you have a pretty good idea where this story is going now? I decided that I would not be like my mother, I wanted a different life and one that included a Christmas Tree. I didn’t necessarily go about getting that life the right way or even the best way. My very first Christmas tree was ugly as hell. It had popcorn that I literally strung together with a needle and thread. (If there was a better way, I didn’t know it and we didn’t have Youtube) I dried fruit, I made ornaments and I managed to convince my first husband to allow me (where is the eye roll emoji) to buy a few ornaments to put on this real tree. I am honestly glad we didn’t have phones that took photos then. Y’all would die. It never made it to the porch until Christmas was over.
That first Christmas as an adult with a husband and a baby was hard. It was not pretty, but it was fun. I pretended that my first son knew exactly what Christmas was and he was only four months old. It didn’t matter to me, it was the first time, I enjoyed Christmas. I cooked all the things, baked all the things, and bought that little boy all the things. You don’t think these things are life changing at the time, but when you look back they really are.
Now those photos are clearly not my first tree but in my mind, that is what I was going for with popcorn, dried fruit, homemade ornaments, and candy canes. Like I said, thank the good Lord above we didn’t have cell phones. Each year, I found a way to add a little more to our Christmas trees and through the bad times of my first marriage to (surprise) a narcissistic alcoholic and the birth of all three of my boys, Christmas became a big deal no matter who didn’t like it. There were always gifts, a tree, and good times with those boys. In about six Christmases I was a single mother with not much income and trying to provide the best Christmas for three little boys no matter what. In came “Christmas around the World” by House of Lloyd. It was an in home party direct selling of Christmas decorations. This was the spark that lit the fire. I was hooked. I was one of the top sales people every year. Not only did I have extra income to buy gifts with, but I had pretty decorations to decorate with. I enjoyed going into homes and selling them Santas, ornaments, snowmen, nativities and showing people what to do with them, how to display them, and where. How did I know? I just did. That is what I call a God thing. Before you know it, people are asking me what goes on their trees. I was just as shocked as you are about now.
Single mamas have it hard. I worked two jobs for many years. I cleaned homes because I made good money, had great freedom in my schedule and I could rearrange other people’s furniture and they liked it. They didn’t pay me for it, it was my extra for them. I would literally move their stuff around and they were mostly impressed, a few, not so much. I certainly understand now, that not everyone wants you messing with their decor. One day, one of those busy working mama clients came to me and said, I will pay you an extra $50 if you will put my Christmas tree up. I am sure that my face betrayed me like it usually does and told her that I had no idea what to do but I wanted the extra $50 so I did it. She loved it. She was grateful, she loved me, her family was happy, they liked my quirky way of putting their stuff on their tree. Well, her neighbor saw it and guess what? Yep I did several that year in that one neighborhood. The next year, I offered it to all of my clients. Did I know what I was doing? Absolutely not, but they loved it. I had somehow stumble upon how I could make extra money and get high decorating a Christmas Tree. What more could I ask for in life?
It is so funny when you ask “life” questions like “what more could I want?” Life always answers back. I finally had that customer. She asked me to clean her home, decorate her Christmas tree and not just any Christmas Tree, she handed me a photo out of Southern Living and $400 cash. She said go buy whatever you think I need and make my tree look like this. Y’all, I had no idea that someone would spend $400 on Christmas decorations and would pay me $100 to put it up. The real story is I once again had no idea how to do it. Anyone can copy something I thought. They sure can if they know what to use and how to do it. I knew neither. I purchased what I thought she needed, I came in under budget and over delivered on the tree. I had ribbon hanging all over the place, ornaments on top of ornaments, and a bunch of sticks stuck in the top of the tree. She had a party. That Christmas, I decorated five more houses like hers and all of sudden, people thought I was brilliant and I was, I figured out how to make money while having fun, and give my boys a great Christmas at the same time.
I am going to wrap up this part of the story so this blog post won’t be super long and because I think in the world of blogging, you are supposed to leave them wanting more so they will come back next week and read your blog. Whatever, like everything in my life, I do it my way. I decorated trees and cleaned homes for over thirteen years and during that time, I learned more about decorating and helping people with little details in their home and was paid for those ideas. You see I grew up with these families while my own family was growing up. I met my second husband that most of you know as “The Berry” and we began our lives together. Each one of these people played a part in this story of why you should decorate your Christmas Tree like Alisa Berry. I gained confidence in myself, I learned a skill, I got to have fun doing something that I actually dreaded each year of my life until that first pitiful Christmas Tree as an adult. So if you get nothing else out of this story, I want you to leave with this, Hope comes when you least expect it and it can easily be on a Christmas tree.