I get to thinking of this post from a few years ago every time we start putting up the tree. We can afford a ‘real’ tree these days, but we’re still attached to our little $10 second hand artificial one. For us, it’s very real:I’m not religious, but I’m a sucker for family traditions. Most of our traditions are handed down, but there is one we accidentally created on our own.A number of years ago healthcare issues and crappy insurance had nearly bankrupted us, and we had money for only the bare essentials. We knew a tree was out of the question and had satisfied ourselves with decorations we had collected in the first 10 years of our marriage. I had cobbled together food for our feast from gifted grocery cards and my latest paycheck and had about $35 to last the few days until my next paycheck when I headed to a thrift store that had been advertising $5 coats for kids.I had completely excavated a corner of $5 coats when I noticed a long box behind the clothing rack. A few tugs and I unearthed an artificial tree. The masking tape holding the box closed had a few sentences promising a complete tree for the low, low price of $10. Reason failed me, and before I knew it, a six-year-old Thing1 and I were packing the box and his new coat into the station wagon.It was the perfect find at the perfect time. The bank account may have been empty, but the house was full. As far as Thing1 knew, it was the perfect Christmas, and he was right.Since then, jobs have changed and bills have been caught up. When it’s our turn to host Christmas we occasionally spring for a tree from the nearby tree farm (we love the tree-cutting ritual). Most years, however, our $10 second-hand fake fir still occupies the spot of honor in the living room and in my heart.