Branching out: 'Every occasion tree' lifts spirits year-round

·2 min read
Trisha Lawler and her daughter Charlotte Smyth said they had to get creative with the Victoria Day tree because all the stores are closed during Ontario's stay-at-home order. They decided to go with a summer activity theme and grabbed what they could around the house including flip flops, sunscreen and a bike helmet.  (Jean Delisle/CBC - image credit)
Trisha Lawler and her daughter Charlotte Smyth said they had to get creative with the Victoria Day tree because all the stores are closed during Ontario's stay-at-home order. They decided to go with a summer activity theme and grabbed what they could around the house including flip flops, sunscreen and a bike helmet. (Jean Delisle/CBC - image credit)

It's been five months since Christmas, but Trisha Lawler still can't bring herself to take down the tree.

The artificial spruce has become a beacon of joy in her Kanata home where she and her three children have been spending the majority of their time since the pandemic began.

"Whenever we take everything down at Christmas time, the house almost seems bare," Lawler said. "To come downstairs and see this tree all lit up and colourful. I think that the children have just got used to seeing it and we love it."

The tree has changed with the seasons, however. Lawler has now decorated three different birthday trees, a Valentine's Day tree and an Easter tree. Now the branches are decked out for the Victoria Day long weekend.

Lawler tries to give each occasion its own unique look.
Lawler tries to give each occasion its own unique look. (Submitted by Trisha Lawler)

"I think right now we're in a very different time and it was something like a celebration, just to celebrate all the different occasions," Lawler said.

Family brainstorming sessions

Lawler draws on her children for inspiration, and said the family holds brainstorming sessions before crafting the decorations and dressing the tree. They try to reuse and recycle what they can.

Her youngest daughter Charlotte Smyth, 11, said scouring the house for on-theme decorations and getting creative with her mother and siblings simply makes her happy.

The star on top of the tree has been replaced with a bike helmet for the Victoria Day long weekend.
The star on top of the tree has been replaced with a bike helmet for the Victoria Day long weekend. (Jean Delisle/CBC)

"We get to spend time together so that's really nice, and also it's just exciting because whenever I come downstairs it's going to be a different tree," Smyth said.

Lawler is a graphic designer who spent 20 years working in management at the home decor chain Bowring. During that time, she spent each Christmas decorating between seven and eight storefront trees in all different colour combinations.

The company went bankrupt in 2018 and Lawler said she's been missing the creative outlet the trees gave her. She said the every occasion tree has helped lift the family's spirits throughout the pandemic.

"It's a happy tree, so I think it's helped. It's just given us something to look forward to, something to talk about," said Lawler, who's already planning for her Canada Day tree.

"We've got so used to the tree, so I mean 2022, is it going to be another tree occasion year? I'm thinking it could be," she said.

The Victoria Day long weekend tree is adorned with summer necessities like sunscreen, sneakers and sunglasses.
The Victoria Day long weekend tree is adorned with summer necessities like sunscreen, sneakers and sunglasses. (Jean Delisle/CBC)