In Holiday Guide

Before ornaments (left) and after.

This just might be the Charlie Brown-est tree in Milwaukee

Glum Charlie Brown questioned the true meaning of Christmas in the 1965 TV special, "A Charlie Brown Christmas," and in defiance with commercialism and the shiny, sparkly aspects of the season, he bought a dumpy, nearly bald tree with the strength and the needles to hold but a single ornament.

South Milwaukee's Anna Spankowski bought her first "Charlie Brown tree" five years ago – and has bought one every year since – but for different reasons.

"They are so much fun!" says Spankowski. "I started buying them when I got sick of bending my fake tree into shape every year, so I wanted a real tree. My husband was anti-spending money on a real one that year, so I was on the hunt for cheap."

Spankowski and her family, which includes her husband and tween / teen sons, buy their trees at the Milwaukee Public Market, which has a range of trees from large and lush to plain and Peanuts-esque.

"The guys who sell them are super cool and sometimes they even cook sausage and let you eat some while you shop," she says.

According to Spankowski, this year's tree was particularly "Charlie Brownie."

"As we were driving home with it on top of our car some of the drunk bicycling Santas were driving by and laughing at it," she says. "My husband did not want to drive over the Hoan Bridge because he thought the needles might fly off of it if we went too fast."

At first, Spankowski's sons were less enthused about the prospect of another Charlie Brown tree, but once she got the lights on and they saw the transformation happening, they loved it.

"Despite the extreme lack of needles this year, my youngest has proclaimed it his favorite of all time," she says. "I think that is the real fun and satisfying reason I get 'Charlie Brown' trees. You start with something so laughable, and when you are done, everyone loves it. It is a true Christmas transformation."

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