The holidays felt brand new this year. My kids are grown. We sold their childhood home and with it went all the little traditions associated with that house, such as fireplace mantle we always overstuffed with their handmade decorations. My eldest is home from college, and even as a freshman he's learned so much. Frankly, he finds the world he returned to so much smaller and a little backward. But the tree was the biggest change. This year, my daughter the environmentalist recommended a fake tree. Smaller footprint and completely recyclable, she reasoned. Even though they are made of plastic, which is a petroleum-based product, we did our homework and a fake tree was the most responsible choice. So, we hunted for the right size and style only to be grossed out by the endless number of options. Reeling from overwhelm and hint of sticker shock, we retreated. On the way back to the car, we passed a resale shop run by the local hospital. There in the window was the perfect tree. I dashed in. Ten bucks the lady said. Delighted, we slapped down our money and helped dismantle the tree and wrestled it into our car. It wasn't just the bargain, it was that it went to a good cause, and it was a full-circle recycle. Now, the ornaments sparkle, the lights twinkle and the presents await. It is 9:00AM and the house is silent. Both kids are sound asleep in that teen aged coma they'll miraculously shake around noon. When they do so, we'll begin the festivities. New tree, new surroundings, new life. Merry Christmas.