Everyone loves the holiday season.  (Well, okay, not EVERYONE, but aside from a furry green fellow on the top of Mt. Crumpet, there’s magic in the air.)  For my family, that magic really starts the day we bring the tree inside.

Our 7-month old daughter stares in awe at the illuminated evergreen

For years we did the fake tree thing, a combination of laziness and being frugal, I suppose.  I had proudly fought the crowds at the Wal-Mart day after Christmas sale and purchased a 6′ pre-lit tree for only $15.  Every year we would retrench it from the garage and put it up while watching “Its a Wonderful Life” on TV.  With each passing year it seemed to get dustier and the color grew duller.  The lights on the top burned out, and rather than find the bad bulb and replace it, I simply wrapped an extra strand of lights around the top.  “See? Problem solved”  It was the Christmas version of sewing up the holes in your socks, and I knew the time to retire it was close.

As parents its part of our reasonability to ensure our children have positive, memorable experiences, especially during the holidays, and “dusting” the family christmas tree isn’t what I picture them looking forward to each year, so we went down the road to a local tree lot.  As we wandered the fantastic pine hallways the smell of Christmas was everywhere. Kids darted in and out of the rows, calling out “I found one!”  As we converge on the spot they would point at some homely excuse for an evergreen with a triumphant look in their eyes.  I really wonder what criteria a kid uses to determine which is the “best tree” since almost every one looked like the big brother of Charlie Brown’s pitiful twig.  Sparse branches, needles falling off like green snow, some of their choices were just awful.  I can’t fault them too much, perhaps their standard was the ugly fake tree we’d been using for years, or maybe the view from the lower angles of these evergreen effigies is markedly different.  “Let’s keep looking, I want something bigger” I would say, and their eyes would grow in eager anticipation.

My wife and I enjoyed the brisk air and discussed what kind of tree we wanted.  Something tall, we have a vaulted ceiling, but not too tall or we couldn’t decorate it.  Full, but healthy, we didn’t want a puddle of needles all over the ground Christmas morning.  We discussed the fire-hazard aspect, but knew the IQ Smoke paired with ourIQ Panel would alert us if something tragic happened.  Finally we decided on a 7′ noble fir.  It was a full, healthy tree with soft bristles that felt supple and smooth.  According to the man with the leather gloves and the “ho ho ho” tee shirt it was a farm tree, and an excellent choice.  He twined it to our roof and we were on our way.

Bringing that tree into the house was a source of elation for the kids.  They leapt up and down, so excited that we were creating such change in our home decor.  First on were the lights, Four packs of energy efficient LED bulbs purchased at… wait for it…  the day after Christmas sale last year.  Now the coup-de-gras: the IQ Smart Socket.   By connecting the lights to the smart socket I didn’t have to climb under the tree every time we wanted to turn it on or off.  I simply used my app.  It was fantastically easy, and once the kids were in bed my wife and I grabbed the laptop and logged into our account where we created a series of rules and schedules.  Turn on the lights in the morning at 6am, turn them off again at midnight.  Turn them off anytime we arm in “away” mode.  It was fantastic and took the hassle and worry out of the entire equation.  Now our season is brighter and I get that added pride of showing off my automation to my neighbors.  Let the Jones’ try and keep up with THAT!

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