Two things happen at our house the Sunday after Thanksgiving. First, James’s parents bid farewell and head back to Colorado. Second, we open the closet in James’s office, and Christmas explodes into our living room. Tubs of decorations. Lights. Christmas tree. Furniture gets moved. However, by the end of the day, we are ready for the season.

Looking to this year, though, we imagined a different experience. One where we come home and our 9-foot tree is laying across the floor, shattered ornaments everywhere, and a mischievous dog sitting in her bed, gnawing on one of our favorite decorations.

I think we’ll pass.

Which means, of course, we won’t be having a tree this year. Or at least one that is in danger from a combined 100 pounds of Basset Hound chasing one another around the room, or Lucy tugging at light strings and finding herself trapped underneath the branches.

Ten years ago, when we moved out to begin our renovation, I set up a tabletop tree in the rental house. We couldn’t fit the full tree, so I thought something small would still be festive. While I’ve been using that at my office since then, I never imagined it making an appearance in the house. Silly me!

Snickers didn’t bother anything last year, so we hadn’t given much thought to what we would do come Christmas. Even our past dogs were really good about the tree. At the worst, Luna would sneak the occasional decoration off but not damage it. She also decided that the tree skirt made a perfectly acceptable dog bed. At least until we had presents there.

Unfortunately, we just don’t see things being that calm this year. I thought we could take the three-tier approach that Matthew took with the twins when they were little. Ornaments you don’t care about at the bottom. Nicer ones in the middle that wouldn’t create any heartbreak if they were damaged. Favorites and ones with memories at the top. Placing the tree in a corner with a baby fence around it didn’t hurt either.

Except I don’t think that will work with a dog who can turn anything into a chew toy. Or who will leap from sofa to ottoman to the other ottoman to chair while playing. Even if we placed the tree in a corner, at some point an ottoman is going to go sliding into it.

So for this year, we’ll find a spot for the small tree. Preferably on a surface tall enough Lucy cannot reach it. Or something she can’t bump into and cause the tree to topple over. We may still have to nail it down, but at least we won’t be completely treeless.