Today is the twelfth day of Christmas. Unless yesterday was. I guess it depends on how you count.
After a party at our house last night, when the guests had left and the clean-up was done, Michael and I poured ourselves a drink and crashed on the living room couch.
As the fire in the fireplace ebbed, I admired the lit Christmas tree, the garland on the mantle, the manger on the end table, the little stuffed Santa’s helper with his bag of toys nestled in the chair.
“This year,” I told Michael, “I’m really going to miss these Christmas decorations.”
In previous years, by the time New Year’s Day rolled around, I was tired of all the holiday clutter, and couldn’t wait to pack it all up and drag the bins up to the attic. I couldn’t wait to restore order to my home.
In previous years, we’ve had a real tree, and by January 1, it practically begged us to put it out of its dry-needled misery. Once the tree was gone, all the other decorations made their exit, too.
This year we bought an artificial Christmas tree. As we discussed and planned the upcoming party—my husband’s annual post-holiday celebration for his staff—we decided to leave the tree in place, knowing the fake needles wouldn’t protest. We left all the other Christmas bling in place, too.
Last night, as I looked around, I was sad to think of the house without its festive dressing, but I didn’t know why.
Then it clicked.
I have a small box of ornaments labeled “Karen’s favorites,” and each year, I make sure they find a spot on the tree. This year, I decided to purge all seven Christmas bins of any item that I didn’t like or had no sentimental value. Then I bought some inexpensive gold bows and white ceramic snowflakes to hang in the dining room, since its peach wallpaper (a holdover from the previous owners) goes with red and green about as well as Santa goes with an Easter basket.
Everything was a favorite.
Today, when I got out the empty “Karen’s favorites” box, and looked at what needed to fit in there, I realized everything was a favorite:
The red velvet drum with gold brocade trim. Tiny drumsticks sit crossed on the top, the handles wrapped in gold thread. I made it when I was about eight, from a toilet paper tube and q-tips. It reminds me how much I enjoyed my artistic creativity, and how much my mother nurtured that in me.
The little girl and little boy on separate swings that my sister gave us on our first Christmas. Michael and I have a tradition of “hanging” each other.
The hand blown glass ball I bought years ago at a Dansk going-out-of business sale with my mom when she was visiting.
A plastic victorian house, a copper watering can, a cut glass snowflake. And these favorites, too.
Everything I kept and everything I added filled me with joy. That’s why I was sad to see it go.
By mid afternoon, when Mike and I finished packing the bins, parts of the house looked bare, but we moved our familiar furniture back into place, rehung pictures, and filled the voids. I was at peace.
Filling my life with joy, filling the voids with peace–not a bad way to end one year and start another.
I wish the same for you this year!