Divine Bird

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Cleaning House: A Look Back at Christmas 2014

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Just a short post here. I talked about this on Facebook, but not in much detail. One very good thing came out of Christmas 2014, something that buoyed my spirits even on the days during which they flagged the most: I decorated my house for the first time in over ten years.

I know it was that long because the box of decorations I found in the basement had been packed sometime around 2002 or 2003, before we moved out of the apartment we lived in when we got married. To my surprise, most of the ornaments were in very good shape. A few glass balls had shattered, and a few wooden ornaments needed a little glue, but overall they had survived being moved to five apartments, a friend’s basement, and a storage unit over the last decade.

My family always decorated for the winter holidays. Growing up in a big Victorian home, we had the perfect setting for huge trees, greenery, candles, and glass. I made the attempt the year after I got married but by then my house was already in disarray. Full disclosure: we didn’t take down the tree until March. (At least it was a fake one!) By the time the following Christmas rolled around, the mess was worse, and we just sort of gave up on the idea. Why add to the clutter?

So it went each year. I adore lights and baubles, though, which just made me feel guilty about the mess even more. I would see that bin of decorations–always sealed, never used–and sigh.

But this year, the day after Thanksgiving, I opened the bin to see what was inside. I found ornaments that I’d believed lost; I found mementos from family members long gone. And when I looked up from these discoveries, I saw clear spaces in my living room. Because I’d spent the year cleaning, I had made room to do things like put up a tree! It felt like magic. In one evening, I put on my favorite Pandora station of Christmas music (curated over several years and therefore perfect) and made some cocoa, then went to town. I hung lights, wrapped garland around the banister, even put up a mistletoe ball. I found a small $5 fake tree at a local discount store and brought it home, then loaded it down with those beloved ornaments atop the bookcase by my chair. And you know what? The room still didn’t feel cluttered. All that work through all that year paid off in a single moment when I could look around my living room to see those Christmas decorations out in the open.

Now, I may never decorate like my parents do, but those little symbols of festivity made an otherwise dreary holiday season into something bright. Tonight while I packed some of them away (in new bins and proper storage), I felt a sense of peace. There’s no more guilt about unused decorations; now, I have something to look forward to next year when the season comes around again.

One Comment

  1. That’s great. Plus, now that you’ve seen what you need and have culled what you don’t, when you DO see those 50% or 70% off decorations in January you can actually say, “Hey, you know, I could use three more garlands” and not feel guilty because you KNOW what you’ve got and know that you’ll definitely use it next year without it being clutter.

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