I have been doggedly hanging onto my 8-ft. Christmas tree for years. It didn’t matter that there wasn’t proper space in our little condo for the tree. It didn’t matter that our health issues had made it more difficult every year to decorate it. It was tradition and must be done. Well, maybe not!
I had declared 2010 was my year to simplify my life by reducing and removing clutter. No area was to be spared, not even the Christmas tree.
I have always loved decorating the Christmas tree, so taking this tradition down a notch was going to be tough. For as long as I can remember I have turned on the Christmas music and buzzed around the tree to find just the right spot for each Christmas ornament.
We have an eclectic collection of ornaments. If one looks closely, the ornaments tell the story of our life.
- The construction paper candy canes and stockings that Sherry & Stacy made in kindergarten have weathered the years fairly well, but Stacy’s stocking that used to be purple (her favorite color) is now sort of a purple/brownish color. But they are still precious to me.
- An assortment of personalized ceramic ornaments like carolers and gingerbread houses, remind me of the years that my best friend Doris and I attended the downtown Christmas Caravan craft shows. Our faithful attendance was in the name of research; to get ideas for ornaments our PTA could make for the annual Christmas Sale at school. Oh, the memories! So much laughter. So much fun!
- Beautiful handmade ornaments received from ladies in my Sunday School class’s annual ornament exchange.
- Animal ornaments representing the years I worked at the Cincinnati Zoo as Director of Volunteer Services. I loved all of the ornaments I received from my volunteers, especially the handmade ones from the Zoosters, a group of talented volunteers who have been creating and selling beautiful Christmas crafts to benefit the Zoo for many years. These clever ladies took a box of sand dollars collecting dust in my basement and turned them into delicate tree ornaments and made money for the Zoo. Loved all of the wonderful, loyal Cincinnati Zoo volunteers!
- Ornaments I received from good friends who worked at other Zoos across the U.S.
- Acrylic ornaments with Great Oaks Vocational Schools carved on them from Tom’s years of service on the Great Oaks Board of Education.
- Fed Ex ornaments we received for being an official Fed Ex drop-off site during the 6 years we had our More Than Mail packaging & shipping store.
- Vacation keepsakes and ornaments received from old friends and neighbors.
My daughter Sherry once told me that my Christmas tree looked like a craft shop explosion. She was right! But it was hard not to hang all of the ornaments on the tree because each one had a memory attached. And everyone knows I am the world’s biggest sucker for sentiment.
Okay, if 2010 was indeed my year to simplify, I was going to have to make some difficult choices. My ultimate goal was to keep the most important, most cherished items to make sure Christmas remained simple, but memorable.
First Choice: Buy a smaller tree – Fairly easy decision as my attachment was never really with the tree. Since our little condo doesn’t really have enough room for a 8-ft. tree, I donated the old tree to Goodwill.
Second Choice: Select ornaments for the new tree – Sorting and selecting the ornaments to adorn the new 4-ft. tree was much harder, but I kept reminding myself “simple life, simple life.”
Third Choice: Cut back on Christmas decorations – I had already done a little of this in 2005 when we moved into our condo, but found more decorations we didn’t need or that didn’t hold any special meaning.
Fourth Choice: Reduce gift wrapping supplies – After taking an inventory of my boxes, paper, ribbon, gift cards, I kept enough for 2010 and 2011 and gave the rest away.
In the Bible, Ecclesiastes 3 tells us “there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. . .a time to keep and a time to throw away.” I’m sure some would think our simple little Christmas tree looks pretty sad when compared to larger trees adorned in beautiful color themes, but our little tree fits this stage of our lives perfectly.
Trimming back on Christmas helped take away some of my pack-rat tendencies and my sentimental attachment to stuff. Stuff that I now realize had become Christmas clutter. It was difficult to “trim” down Christmas and remove some of the clutter, but when I gaze at my little simple Christmas tree I feel good about my choices.
The result is I am more rested. I have more time to enjoy the season. I can still take my sentimental “walk down memory lane” when I look at the ornaments on my tree. But when Christmas 2010 is over and it’s time to put everything away until next year, it will be easier because of the stuff I donated and the clutter I’ve eliminated. I am left with only the items that truly have meaning to me or my family.
Ending on a Positive Note: We all have a choice of how many of the cherished customs of Christmas we do because of tradition or because they really matter. I am finding that simple and significant fits well in all areas of my life, even in my tradition of trimming my Christmas tree.