The Ghost of Christmas Past

Growing up, my family would load the RV and head to Florida over Christmas to escape the Pennsylvania winter and dash my dreams of a Norman Rockwell holiday. Ever-practical, my parents decided it was pointless to put up a big tree since no one was going to be home. They stuck a 2-foot tree on a side table and finished decorating in record time. Fast forward to adulthood and I have my own house and a holiday-loving husband. When our first child arrives, we declare ourselves house-bound on Christmas forevermore and the decorating frenzy begins and lasts more than twenty years.

At our peak, we had a “princess” tree in the kids’ hallway, a tree in the foyer, a tree in the kitchen, a tree in the family room, and a tree in the basement. We had big Santas on the stairwell, flanking the fireplace, and little Santas sitting on any bit of open shelf in every room. Greenery hung off every banister, railing, and mantle, all entwined with fairy lights and hand-tied fabric bows. Couches didn’t escape either;  they were decked out in holiday throws and pillows. The kids’ rooms got Christmas-themed flannel sheets and stuffed santas and snowmen. The day after Thanksgiving, I unloaded the Christmas chinaware from storage and went to Target to load up on the new season of plastic and melamine kids’ dinnerware.

Our 4 kids were little and I loved decorating, and every year I developed amnesia about the time it took dismantling Christmas town. As our family grew up, however, the decorating began to feel like a burden and a chore that no one had the time or inclination to help with. I slowly began to cut back in 2016 and last year I canvassed the family about their feelings on the over-the-top decorating and whether I could update the decor. On one hand, I didn’t want to put time and effort into a tradition we had outgrown, but I certainly didn’t want to take away any beloved family institutions. What stayed? The big tree in the family room with the crazy mish-mash of collected ornaments, the decorations in the kids’ hallway, and the beloved Christmas Eve screening of Die Hard.

I didn’t go quite so hardcore, but I really love that decorating for the holidays is not a week-long sentence of hard labor and I don’t start to feel claustrophobic from all the extra everything and ready to tear it all down by the day after Christmas.

I’ll share a peak every day about what stayed and how I’m learning what minimalism means to me and my family.

I corralled the hot chocolate packets, peppermint stirrers, marshmallows, and spoons onto a tray with the milk frothier if the kids want to go old school. I’ll switch out the Christmas mugs in January and this got chocolate pop-up bar is good to go until Easter!

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