As I sorted through boxes and bins of holiday decorations this week, I found myself asking, “How is it possible I’m getting these out again? It feels like just yesterday that I was packing it all away.” It’s hackneyed, but true: each passing year seems to fly by quicker than the one before, and I find that setting up the same familiar decorations helps to tie this Christmas to the one before it and the one before that…while also marking time passing and my children growing up, right before my eyes.
It reminded me of a post I wrote a few years ago that I like to dust off, brush up and re-post every holiday season. I hope you enjoy!
Every December, the kids and I take a trip to the store, where each child gets to pick out one ornament to put on the tree. The intention is to give each child a small supply to take off to college or their first apartment or wherever life takes them. And of course, in the meanwhile we get a pretty tree that’s full of character but growing more crowded by the year.
On these shopping ventures it can be hard to stay on task: just get one ornament per person, then head for the checkout aisle. I see shiny stuff everywhere and suddenly I find myself creating a need for those tree lights shaped like the ones from the 30s or that new beaded runner for the table.
And of course, I don’t always manage to quell the urge. Our wooden Advent calendar was a fairly recent impulse purchase (though I’d been wanting to buy a nice one for years). A few years ago I really needed new gold balls to replace all the ones that were pulled off the tree and broke when I had toddlers in the house. And I always find myself looking at new tablecloths and candles.
But last time I surveyed my holiday decorations, I was struck by just how many of those things have been constant from year to year. I’ve had my Mary/Jesus statue and wooden creche, both gifts from my mother for over 15 years (that’s nearly my whole adult life). I have a wire tree that I hang little antique-looking ornaments on. I remember finding the ornaments in a little gift shop here in town–years before I lived here!–and loving them. That was at least five years ago. There’s a tin that my Aunt Kay gave me when I was maybe 9 or 10 years old. (it came with a puzzle inside; the puzzle did not survive my childhood, but the tin did). The Santa with his reindeer was a gift from Jon’s aunt the year we got married. Many of the ornaments on the tree date back to the beginning of our marriage, some longer.
And I realize that the things I get the most satisfaction from are the ones that have been around the longest, that I pull out year after year. I absolutely love taking out my creche and setting up my little wire “tree” and seeing my old friends emerge from the tissue paper.
I even love putting it all away when Christmas is over, wrapping each item carefully and looking forward to seeing them all again. To me, one of the coziest parts of Christmas is seeing the same, familiar old decorations around the house and knowing that no matter how much things change, our Christmas decor looks pretty much the same year after year.
When I really think about it, I get by far the most enjoyment from the things that have been constant from year to year. They may fall out of fashion or chip, come unglued or lose pieces, but I still plan on hauling them out year after year. When it comes to holiday decorations, I just really love my old stuff.
And that’s a good thing to keep in mind when I’m looking for an excuse to stay away from yet another display of new holiday tablecloths and runners.
Do you have a holiday decorating ritual? Do you like to use the same things again and again or have special memories attached to certain ornaments and decorations?