Christmas Trees in the Common House
From: Joani Blank (
Date: Sun, 13 Dec 1998 01:34:13 -0600
Okay Liz, here's one we might revisit on the occaision of the arrival of
the winter season.  A Christmas tree in the common house.  To have or not
to have, that is the question. How did/ does your group decide this one? Do
you revisit the question annually, or have you developed a "policy" that
you go by until someone initiates a change? To whom does the tree (if you
have one) and the decorations belong?  

And on a related matter, do you have any kind of winter holiday community
gift exchange? How does that work?

At Doyle Street, in the first Xmas season, one resident who really wanted a
tree and was willing to purchase and decorate it, asked the two Jewish
residents who lived here at the time how they felt about it. Both of us
said it was okay with us and thanked her for considering our feelings. If I
remember correctly, that year we had a full size (not huge tree). During
the next few years the tree still appeared, but it was quite a small one.
If I remember rightly, the last couple of years we have not had one in the
CH at all, and I for one like that.  After all the whole rest of the world
is decorated to beat the band and it is nice for me to come home to less
visual overkill with red and green and stars and baby Jesuses. Now that I
think of it, a plain evergreen wreath, I mean plain, no decorations at
all--not even a ribbon, appeared on the CH door this week. Kinda nice. 

We traditionally (nice to use this word in such a young movement) have a
community gift exchange on New Years Day, or the last Sunday before
everyone goes back to school or work after that. Everyone brings one gift
and we do it grab-bag style where people select a gift in random order
(number drawing), draw can "steal" something that has already been opened
if they prefer. It is really fun. 

We only have five kids here (I now consider our one teenager a young
adult); a couple of people buy gifts for all of them, some buy for none.
This is the first Xmas we have had a piano in the common house. Maybe there
will be some carol singing--never had much of that before. 

Your turn,

Joani Blank
Doyle St., CoHousing, Emeryville (very near Berkeley and Oakland), California

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