We had half a tree on a table last year, and I didn't want to do that again (in part because we found a better place for that table upstairs) -- I wanted a real tree. But a good 75% of our ornaments are glass, and I didn't see that working out with an 18-month-old and a heedless basset hound. We got the tree, and I put the lights on, and I thought about it.
Finally I decided on a combination of Target and triage. Target provided an armload of plastic balls that look just the hell like glass ones. Triage put all the precious fragile ones into careful storage and the ones that can take a topple or a wag or a being thwacked with a dump truck without being or causing hurt onto the tree.
And I felt one of those moments of Right Parental Compromise. Are plastic ornaments my favorite? No, they are not. Would I rather have the nested glass bells that were my dead father's favorite ornaments on my tree rather than in a box? Yes, very much. But what I wanted way more than a small carbon footprint or a meaningful memento was for Ben to enjoy Christmas, and for us all to enjoy the tree without its becoming a source of stress and worry. So he got to "help" hang the balls, and in the process learned (and appears to have successfully internalized) that once the ornaments are on the tree, they're only to look at and not touch.
And during the triage I also culled a bunch of ornaments from my Mom that, yes, do have pleasant associations because my memories of trimming the tree with Mom every year are among the best and brightest of my childhood -- but honestly, some of those ornaments are dead ugly, and some are just not my bag, and I realized as I was doing this big Christmas tree edit that I didn't actually have to hang them all. I didn't get rid of them, either. They're in a box of their own. Maybe someday I'll change my mind about their ugliness or their necessity.
The result of all this is I love our Christmas tree this year. It might be the best Christmas tree yet.