The holidays have come and gone, and I find myself feeling in limbo. I should admit something. I'm known for my no-holds-barred, over-the-top Christmas decorating. But this past year I decided to give myself a "vacation" from Christmas decorating and didn't do anything at all. I recently ran into a few of my neighbors and the first thing they asked was, "Is everything ok? We didn't see your decorations and were wondering." I assured them everything was just fine and that I just needed a little break.
Admittedly the past several years I've found it harder and harder to muster the incentive to deck the halls. I've questioned why I go to all the trouble when I live alone: Who am I really doing this for? What does it mean for me? But I somehow push through each year and am always glad I did after the fact.
And truth be told, this year I was involved in a holiday variety show and for the finale I created a Christmas tree outfit. So, after creating this I felt like I had done my part.
This year was different for other reasons. I think the mood in the United States definitely dampened my enthusiasm and spirits and I gave over to that. Instead of celebrating, I went into hibernation mode – literally. I spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with friends but after that I shut myself up in my apartment, closed all the blinds, wrapped myself in a blanket, and went into the darkness.
One result of this is that as we've progressed into the new year, I've found myself not quite in sync with the season. I know why now. I didn't "mark" the transition into the year in my traditional way by decorating to the rafters.
This has all been a poignant reminder about traditions and rituals. As I've heard said, ritual is the punctuation of life. And I didn't have my usual exclamation point in December! No wonder I'm feeling at sea in the new year.
It has me thinking of what other rituals I could use to help mark the holidays should I find myself wanting a break from decorating again in the future. The easiest answer: Just tone it down. But I will most likely go back to full throttle next year especially since I've bought a bunch of new ornaments. (Yay 50% end of season sales!). And once I start decorating, the momentum takes over and the whole thing has a life of its own. As a friend of mine said many years ago, "Oh, so your theme is 'It's not done till it's overdone?!' "
I don't have any ideas for myself at the moment. Now that the seed has been planted I trust some ideas will grow. But I'd love to hear from you! What are some simple rituals or traditions you do for the holidays when you don't want to go "all out?" Use the comment box below.
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I tried an opposing tack this year; in defiance of what felt like encroaching darkness, I decorated, lit my world, and baked to the hilt. We entertained many friends over the last month, and now I'm feeling almost desolate...so, faithfully practicing necessary Jan. and Feb. rituals. But, to your question, my mother set out a new holiday ornament or decoration every day of Advent, and we delighted to discover it when we returned from school. This is a lovely way to honor the season in a moderate way...one new decoration a day may lend seasonal spirit to the soul seeking a "smaller, gentler" path to celebration. Or perhaps one remembrance of a friend/relative whose welfare you could carry in your heart that day? A lot of my decorations came from family and friends, and this would be a sweet way to carry their love with me...whatever you choose, blessings on your seeking.
Although I have been married for 30 years, there has been no celebration of holidays including Christmas, birthdays or anniversaries for most of those years. Now that I am single again I find myself alone. With no family to share the season with, your post impressed upon me the importance of holiday rituals...ESPECIALLY if we live alone....for we are never really alone and everyday should celebrated. Thank you Darren! and Kitty thank you for a new way to start my ritual overdo)
Our decorations vary from year to year -- but are mostly planned out, and can be formal. But not for the last year. Formal -- and way too many decoration -- just wasn't working for me anymore. So, those are packed away for now. And the last Christmas was decorated with a smaller focus and a definitely not-formal (some might say "irreverent) whimsy. Large lighted "Joy" sign by the front door. Glittery, sparkly wreaths on the front porch. Our nativity on the front porch took a whimsical, turn -- all large plastic blow molds, they are: Easter bunny "Mr. Rabbit", Frankenstein, large snowman with blue Bible and blue scarf and hat, a pink pig wearing a Santa hat, a green T-Rex with a red-and-white striped scarf, a green bug-eyed outer space Alien, a howling ghost holding a Halloween pumpkin, and for the centerpiece (you know who), Optimus Prime. Theologically, all these characters have their place in this display. It certainly makes us smile, and does remind me of the season, and reminds me daily to include everyone in our celebrations. Indoors, we decorated a Christmas tree, but with only 1 box of decorations -- we chose our favorites and most meaningful; extras were eventually donated. I can be quite a collector, and I am entering into a new season in my life. We'll see how it evolves!
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