A New One Just Begun

img_2834Taking down the decorations is my least favorite part of Christmas.  When I was a child, we always took down our tree on New Year’s Day mostly because it was always a real tree and beginning to dry out by then.  When I grew up and began decorating my own Christmas trees, I left them up a little bit longer, especially once we made the shift to putting an artificial Christmas tree in our living room.  These days I don’t take my decorations down until after Epiphany (January 6), and sometimes not even then.  The truth is, I’m never really ready to “undecorate” the house.

But eventually even I have to admit that it’s time to take everything down, and so I drag my boxes and cartons out of the basement and begin the long and tedious process of packing all my ornaments and decorations away for another year.  Somewhere along the line, I quit feeling sorry for myself and focus much more on making sure everything is properly wrapped, in the correct box, and clearly labeled.  (My obsessive need for neatness comes in handy sometimes.)

Even though our house always looks just a little bit naked those first few days without holiday decorations scattered so liberally about, there is always a part of me that likes what I see.  The undecorated house reminds me of a blank canvas, and I start to think about different colored throw pillows, or perhaps a new set of shelves to store my ever-growing collection of photo albums.  New things seem possible now that the clutter of Christmas has been cleared away, and I find it much easier to envision some positive changes for my home.

And once my Christmas decorations are put away, I know that the holiday season is officially over and that it is time to look forward into the new year.  I’m not a person who easily embraces change, but I never want to be a person who fears it.  The new year helps remind me that sometimes change is both necessary and good.  The new year can be a symbol of a “clean slate” that allows me to leave behind the clutter in my life that isn’t doing me or anyone else any good, and gives me a chance to make some of the changes that will move me toward a life that is happier and more full of purpose.

And of course, it helps to remember that in only eleven short months I’ll be able to decorate my house for Christmas all over again….

77 thoughts on “A New One Just Begun

  1. We don’t have kids or grandkids, no obvious/convenient place for a tree, and are often out of town over the holidays, but I do put up a few decorations for the holidays. It helps put me in the mood and our over-Christmas housesitters appreciate it. Unlike you, though, I usually take everything down before New Years… I also love the uncluttered look and the feeling of new beginnings.

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    • That sounds like a sensible plan to me! I leave ours up til after New Years mostly from tradition, and the fact that I really like the way the tree lights look in our living room (so peaceful.) But I think all of us have our own way of doing things, and we should all do what works best for us. Thanks for the comment!

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  2. Hi Ann. I’ve been out of the blog world for a long time, but I’m so glad that I’ve recently come back and read your post. I agree with your sentiment about getting rid of the Christmas “clutter” and feeling the ability to start a clean slate. We took down our decorations, yesterday, as well. I was ready. Not that I don’t like the warmth of Christmas decorations. But, once they’re gone….it’s like “aaaahhh”…my house is back! This year, I have committed to de-cluttering the unnecessary stuff in my house. This felt like a great first step.

    Thank you for sharing.
    Lynn

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  3. You captured my feelings about taking down the tree (our real tree is still up and dried out like a prune). I get a little sad when I do it, but then I’m glad when it’s all cleared away.

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    • That’s a good way of looking at it, Larry! I’m not excited when I start taking it down, but I do feel a strong sense of accomplishment once I’m done. And I do like the lack of clutter…in my house and in my head too!

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  4. It’s always a little sad taking down decorations. As I put them away, I sometimes wonder how my life might change or what experiences I might have by the time I take them out again. But I’m usually ready, though my wife also puts up winter decorations so I won’t be free of them until March..:)

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    • Yes, I sometimes wonder about that, too, George! We sort of measure our years by the holidays, don’t we? As for the winter decorations, my mom does the same thing. She has snowmen she keeps out until spring, because she says they are winter decorations, not Christmas decorations. And I have to admit that they look very cheerful.

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  5. Yes – always a little sad, but also a little rejuvinating and cleansing to take the tree and decorations down. I used to hurry, but I don’t anymore. Just undecorated this weekend. I do, however leave lots of snowies around for the next few months, so it is nice to only “half undecorate” 🙂

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    • Yes, that’s what my mom does too! And now that I think about it, I do have some snowmen mugs that will stay out in my kitchen for a couple more months. And there really isn’t any hurry….sometimes December is so busy that we don’t really enjoy our decorations. It’s nice to have them up a few days in early January when we have time to appreciate them!

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      • What you said is so true, Ann – sometimes we’re too busy to enjoy our Christmas decorations. That was what happened to me last year. I didn’t realise it till you mentioned it! In our home, I string tiny bells on red ribbons and put tie them all around our home, and my husband and kids do the tree and set up the crib. While the bells go up the moment Advent begins and the Christmas songs begin to play about a week earlier, the tree and crib are up just 2 weeks before Christmas. By then, I’m already in the frenzy of housecleaning and in a twist over some thing or another. There’s not much of a pause to sit still and let the prettiness of Christmas gently sink into me.

        When Christmas comes around again, I’m going to set the nights and dawns aside for just that. And I’ll try to get a head start on sitting still and savouring every beauty around me right from today, every day 😀 😀

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        • That sounds like a wonderful plan! In our house, my husband gets up first and he always turns on the Christmas tree lights as soon as he gets up. It’s his time to just enjoy the warm glow and to have a few minutes peace before the day begins. Honestly, I think we would all benefit from that, especially at Christmas. Thanks for the comment!!! You always add so much to the discussion….

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    • I’m still working on mine, too. My real tree is down, but the artificial one is still up. And if my husband has his way (he won’t) it will still be up by Valentine’s Day. He loves looking at the lighted tree too!

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  6. I wish I could take it down, but it stays up until Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. We get ours late, and early January doesn’t seem long enough. But I understand the desire to get things back to normal. Clean slates are inspiring.

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  7. Im often a bit sad to put away all of the decor. So many memories and I always love all the lights of the season. To realize a clean slate is even better though. You are so right, in another 11 months, we will be pulling it all out again. Happy New Year, Ann!

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    • Thanks, Lisa!!! I think the lights are what I miss the most, too. Especially the ones outside, which light up the dark winter nights, and how pretty our living room looks when it’s lit by nothing but the Christmas tree. But there is also something satisfying about “de-cluttering” the house and thinking about new ways to decorate it. I hope you have a wonderful New Year!!!

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  8. So very true Ann though I have to admit that this year our decorating was kept relatively minimalist. Still, it’s nice to declutter afterwards and start the year afresh. Wishing you and your family a wonderful 2019. xx

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  9. We’ve just tidied away our decorations for another year but have decided to keep our cherry lights over our fireplace until the end of January which we did last year for the first time. It cheers up the dark wintry nights and I love having any other lights off, sitting and relaxing in their cozy glow! Lovely post Ann and I too enjoy that sense of creating space for change!

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    • I have so many ornaments that it’s hard to justify buying new ones, and yet I do. Although by “new” I mostly mean new to me, since so many of them are older ornaments. I tend to favor the ones from the fifties and sixties, or new ornaments that look old fashioned. And yes, I do change out my regular household decorations now and then. Sometimes they start looking kind of ratty, and other times I just feel ready for a change.

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  10. I like the “clean slate” concept of an emptier room, definitely easier to visualize once the tree comes down. That really would be a good time to reassess, which is something I feel is long overdue in our front room! And isn’t it the truth about the 11 short months…funny how they get shorter every year.

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    • Oh I know! When I was a kid, eleven days seemed forever. Now I’m old, and eleven months fly by. What’s up with that? And I admit that I do almost all of my house redecorating early in the winter…I do get inspired by the “clean slate” that I see when the Christmas decorations are down. And I try to carry that over to my real life too.

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  11. My tree is still up and lit, as I mentally and physically prepare myself to take it down along with all the other decorations. It seemed like a good idea in my younger years to collect a massive amount of holiday decorations, now it is work to put them up and take them down. Maybe it’s time to call a service?

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    • There are services that do that, and maybe it is the time for you to look into it. I actually have a friend who puts up and takes down outdoor lights for people, and his business is thriving. We may use him someday, because I’d love to see lights along our rooftop, but neither my husband or I brave enough to climb up there and string them.

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  12. I feel the same about keeping the Christmas in the living room for as long as possible. Epiphany is the time one should take down the tree. As another blogging friend from England pointed out, if you wait a bit longer, the goblets come and destroy your pots. Well, I harbour so such superstitions, but the tree has to go out for practical reasons. Have a great week, Ann!

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    • I do think that Epiphany is the logical time to take down the tree, for those who are able to do that. In many families, it’s a tradition. My husband is never ready to take the tree down, but as you say, eventually there are practical reasons why it needs to be done. Like you, I’m not into superstition! Have a greet New Year, Peter!

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  13. Oh my, Ann, you just reminded me that many of our decorations are still up! We have an artificial tree, but I took it down before New Year’s Eve because it blocks the television! We don’t watch much besides sports, but we always watch a movie on New Year’s Eve, so it was time. Happy New Year. Here’s to many positive things in 2019.

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  14. I love the line “…leave behind the clutter in my life that isn’t doing me or anyone else any good.” So true, what a great way to look at the New Year. A wonderful and blessed 2019 to your and yours!

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    • Thanks, Jen! I’m sort of a neat freak, so I guess I tend to think of personal improvement as a way to get rid of the “clutter” in my personal life. It does work for me, especially as I age and get more and more serious about wanting to live as intentionally as I can, and making a positive impact on my own tiny corner of the world. Happy New Year!

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  15. Most of the joy/burden of decorating/undecorating the tree falls to my wife, I mostly deal with the lights and reducing the tree to yard debris. But even so, I know what you mean about the house looking a little empty afterward. It’s like someone hit reset, the new year is officially on, and only time will see how we fill it.

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    • I like the idea of “hitting reset” at the beginning of the new year….so many possibilities! And yes, in our household the decorating is mostly my responsibility, with the heavy lifting being my husband’s. But that’s okay, because I kind of enjoy it, and he’ll help if I need him to. Welcome back, Dave!

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  16. This year I did not do any decoration since the kitten, cause I was afraid the cat will climb on the tree. So I didn’t had the feeling of disappointment when the season is over. I like your symbol for the new year as a clean slate, like there is always room for improvement and a fresh start.

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    • That was a wise choice. I have a friend whose new cat did climb right up the trunk of her Christmas tree, knocking most of the ornaments off! She also went treeless for a couple of years, until the cat matured a little bit. But hey, there will always be more Christmases, but your cat will only be a cute little kitten once. Enjoy!!!

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  17. I need to print out your last paragraph and read it over now and then! We can always use help in uncluttering our lives. We let emotional clutter of the negative type take up too space at times…In the end, it is wasted energy and only serves to drag us down. Yes, a blank slate with new possibilities is a much better idea. On a practical note, after the holidays and the living room is looking bare, we move the furniture around so we can sit in front of the fire place and have a book-reading nook. I think of winter-white instead of the Christmas greenery.

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    • That’s a smart thing to do! That way you are accenting the beauty of winter rather than mourning the loss of the Christmas decorations.
      But you’re right, the most important thing is to remember that we can also declutter our lives, so that we aren’t bogged down by stuff that isn’t serving anyone any more, least of all ourselves. Thanks for the comment!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I love Christmas and I do not like putting away the decorations. I too, spend time packing everything up so I can find it again next year…it is a lot of stuff. I keep a string of white lights on the top of my fireplace mantle year round and decorate the mantle with different things for the seasons. Even in summer, there are shells and little white lights. I read somewhere that you can keep a little bit of Christmas in every room of your house throughout the year. After all, Christmas is in our hearts every day of the year…why not our homes? One person told me that they make a game of it…she tucks a little Christmas ornament or some small wreath and waits to see who notices it. Kind of a fun idea!

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  18. That reminds me of something Ann. Diwali is a major festival for us and I remember earlier on when we would use diyas ( small earthen lamps that use oil and wicks) the process of cleaning up the diyas and packing them up was done as soon as the festival days were over. Now, with the electric lights replacing the diyas, it remains for much longer. Furthermore, the diwali lights become the thanksgiving decoration and then the christmas and new year lights after that. 🙂

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    • Me too, Sheryl. On the one hand, I miss the warm glow of the Christmas tree, and on the other hand, I like having my house look less cluttered and having the chance to think about some new decorating choices.

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  19. I also don’t like un-decorating my place, and really dreaded the day when the Christmas tree had to get out as a kid, it was my friend and I used to always say good night to it. Silly, I know but those are the privileges of children. 😉 Nowadays I don’t buy a tree anymore but lavishly decorate all rooms with bits and pieces and a few Christmas tree branches and mistletoe. It’s all still in place by the way and will stay like this until February begins. 😉

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    • I used to say “goodby” to our tree too when I was a kid! It did feel like saying goodby to a friend, and I always worried that the tree was also sad….
      I bet your house looks just lovely, and don’t blame you for keeping it up. (Especially as you don’t have a real tree to dry out.) Some friends of ours also used to leave their (artificial) tree up all of January. She said December was so busy they never really got to enjoy the tree, but in January they did.

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      • That´s just it! No time to really admire the tree and all the decorations in the hustle and bustle of December!
        And wow! I´m so glad I´m not the only one who used to say goodbye to the Christmas tree!! We two seem to have quite a lot in common. 😉

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  20. What a beautiful tree. I, too, always feel a little sad taking down the decorations. No matter how few. I’ve not heard of Epiphany. What a wonderful time of remembrance. I like the reminder to clear out the clutter and replace with fresh outlooks and mindsets for the new year. Wishing you a blessed year!

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    • Thank you, Brenda! It is sad to take down the tree, but once the job is done, I’m usually happy to have the house decluttered. And I realize that I now have the chance to make a few changes, which is also a nice thing. Have a wonderful New Year!!!

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