What do you get when you cross…

Leslie Knope’s wedding dress….

leslie knope wedding dress

With a whole bunch of books….

room divider

And a Christmas tree?

christmas tree.jpg

You get this!


It’s KL Kranes’ Bookmas Tree 2017!!!

Yes, it’s pink. Yes, it’s part mannequin. And, yes, I freakin’ love it.

If you frequent my blog, you may recall last year I undertook the creation of a holiday Bookmas Tree (i.e., a Christmas tree made of books.) Here is a picture of our first bookmas tree:


If you’d like to experience my epic failures leading up to my very first Bookmas tree, please feel free to check out the blogs from last year. (See part 1 and part 2).

This Year, We Got Even More Bookmas-y

Armed with many lessons from last year, for 2017, my family and I knew we could to do it bigger, better and even more bookmas-y than ever! To be honest it might have been smart if I re-read my own blog before this endeavor because I forgot a few things like:

  • ella at bookmas tree 2It takes many, many, many hours.
  • It takes a ton of books.
  • It leaves your legs aching the next day from all the squatting and standing. (I’ve been walking around holding my back and waddling like a lady whose 9 months pregnant.)

Also, I forgot that even the best-laid plans never go the way you expect. After careful measuring and even taping down twine in order to create a perfect cone shape around the mannequin, it wasn’t easy.

The bookmas tree still had a few more lessons to teach me.

First lesson: my enthusiasm level for this project is not comparable to my family. 

My daughter, Ella, was excited and helpful, at first. She set to work gathering books into piles of equal thickness (an important lesson from 2016). She added circular layers, spiraling the tree upward and filling in gaps in the middle. We put on a record, the Beatles’ Abby Road, and strategized over our building project, talking and laughing along the way.

It was fun, until about hour 3. She started disappearing, wandering off to pet the dog or study. (Whatever! Studying over bookmas tree? What kind of priorities are those?)

After dinner, with only about half of the tree complete, she just never came back. In the end, she abandoned me to watch a new superhero show called Runaways, with my husband, Neal.

[Dear Neal: You get negative brownie points for giving her the option to watch TV when there was still bookmas tree-making to be done. As restitution, I’ll take compliments, a leg massage and chocolate.]

After I finished the tree by myself, wiping sweat from my brow, hunched over and aching, she bopped into the room and said, “Wow mom, it looks so great!” Just kidding, she did not say that. Her first words after all my hard labor, “It doesn’t look like a skirt.”

Which leads me to…

Second lesson: it’s possible for a bookworm to run out of books. (Shocking, I know.) 

I don’t know how it happened. We didn’t have that problem last year and, if anything, I have more books now. But I miscalculated. I made the base too wide or the angle less steep. My goal had been to have the books reach the mannequin’s waist (aka, making a skirt of books). But after looking in every book nook and crevice, and at one point shrieking with happiness when I found a stash of books, I just didn’t have enough.

[Note: Dear friends and fellow authors, you may see your book in these pictures. Please know, every book I own, including my own, was sacrificed to the bookmas tree. But, not to worry, it’s a place of honor and your book will be freed in January to be read again!]

Third lesson: when life gives you not enough books you make miniskirt peplums

Although lacking in the tact quotient, my daughter had an apt observation. So I went to work again on the tree. Channeling my love of Leslie Knope, I came up with the idea of the book page peplum to better connect the mannequin to the book skirt base. I think it worked out well, proving yet again that criticism is critical for creativity.

Fourth lesson: don’t let teens play with lights

20171206_200654With a dog whining at the door and a daughter who has many great qualities, but taking the dog out isn’t one of them, it fell to me to ensure poor Cupcake didn’t wet herself or our floors. Not wanting to lose momentum on our tree progress, I tasked Ella and her friend, Kaitlin, with completing the lights on the bookmas tree.

This was a mistake. I’m not sure how, but they ended up tangling up all the lights and leaving a gaping hole of darkness in the middle of the tree. Moral of the story: make your daughter take out the dog and leave the lights to the adults.

Fifth lesson: always ask people to help name your tree

We like to name things in my house, stuffed animals, cars, Google Maps voices. So, of course, we had to name our bookmas tree. My husband and daughter fought over the name (Marsha vs Shelley), neither of which I felt really embodied our tree. After several rounds of arguing, we were no closer to a name.

Then we asked Ella’s friend Kaitlin if she had any ideas and she whipped out a suggestion that made her poor showing on the whole lights fiasco a distant memory.

“How about Merry?” she said. It sounds like the name “Mary” but also references “Merry Christmas” and the general holiday goal of being merry.

I thought it was rather clever.

Not willing to give up on her choice name, Ella piped in and said, “How about Merry Shelley?”

Buzzers went off in my head. Merry Shelley (or Mary Shelley, rather) was the author of Frankenstein. We kind of made a strange Frankenstein Christmas tree. It was literary and perfect.

And with that, our bookmas tree was complete.

Last, but not least, here’s a segment I like to call….

Things Only Said When Making a Bookmas Tree

I think my favorite part of making the tree was all the funny interactions with my family. Here are a few quotes to give you a little flavor of the odd things said in our house over the 2 days of bookmas tree creation.

Me: I am sorry but this year you are going to have to sacrifice your Harry Potter books to the tree.
Ella (pouting): Fine, but only books 5,6, and 7.

Me (while running around the house searching for books): Everyone in this family needs to start reading thicker books!!

Ella: Our Christmas tree almost looks creepy. Almost.

Me: Do you like the peplum skirt thing I made of book pages for the tree?

Neal: You better behave or else the punishment is having to help with the bookmas tree again.

Neal (pointing to a bag in the corner): Can I use those ornaments?
Me: No! They aren’t pink! This is a Pinkmas Bookmas Tree!

Ella: The tree really needs a DRESS.
Neal in the background: Yes, it does.
Me (imagine steam shooting out of my ears): I put a dress on her at the beginning and you two said we should take it off!

Ella: Stop taking all my books!
Me: No!

Ella: I think we should take the sweater off the tree.
Neal: I think the sweater looks good.

Neal: That tree looks like it’s going to come to life and kill us. There’s a new story for you.
Me: No way. She’s made of books, which means she’s obviously super educated and full of empathy. She wouldn’t hurt anyone.

Neal: I think it’s time to stop messing with the bookmas tree.
Me: Don’t tell me what to do!

Neal: The bookmas tree looks really great. I mean it really does. [Said with no sarcasm, slowly earning back brownie points.]

Me (asking myself): Was it worth it? 8 plus hours making a Frankenstein Christmas monster?
Me (answering myself): Heck ya! That thing is awesome!

Happy Holidays and Merry Bookmas Tree!