The Downsizing Dozen: Dwindling Decorations

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Have to admit that I anticipated the annual dragging out of the old Christmas boxes with some trepidation this year. Why? For the last ten years, we have known exactly where all the decorations would be placed–snowmen chilling on the fireplace mantle with the stockings, lights of the correct length wrapped around our breakfast nook railing, tree positioned front and center in the living-room window bay. Now all bets were off when faced with the alien (and rather compact) landscape of our new apartment.

At least the ever-important tree placement was easy. There was clearly only one spot in the apartment that would work, by the door to our balcony, where we had strung our remaining outdoor lights for a show of holiday spirit among the drab units surrounding us. The tree is actually one that my daughter bought last year, and one that she is willing to share with her miserly parents. (Actually, we have no idea what sort of ornament-hanging structure we really want when she moves out.)

The other Christmas detritus was more problematic, however. As we unwrapped the holiday candy dish and the rather heavy stocking hangers, the snowpeople collection, bottle brush trees, my husband’s family nativity and 1950‘s ceramic bells in the shape of Christmas ladies, I was once again grateful that we had purged a good deal in the last couple of years, keeping all Christmas keepsakes down to two storage bins and an ornament box. Everything had to fit into the life raft of those boxes or be set loose upon the open seas at Goodwill.

Thank heavens for a lengthy bar area along the kitchen counter, a tabletop with enough space for the snowmen, and a bookshelf with a lack of books and plenty of parking places. We found just enough room for everything except a very large fiber optic angel, a string of lights and one pair of festive tealight holders. The added bonus is that we can sit in our living room and enjoy all the decorations without having to get up and walk into another room, like we had to do in our old house.

Much has changed in our lives, but some traditions live on in new digs without too many of the trappings. We toast our good fortune in relocating to a warm and comfortable nest with the annual spiked eggnog while our cat re-acquaints himself with the penguin tree skirt.

Happy holidays, my friends, and see you in 2015!

Once a month for the next twelve, I’ll feature another step in the downsizing journey that didn’t just begin when we sold our suburban house and moved to a small walk-up apartment in June of 2014. This shift to a simpler life has been years in the making, and I hope you’ll join me in my family’s quest to get down to basics. My inaugural post entitled Giving It All Away was featured in July, Make It Stick in August, Following Your Feet in September, Case of the Missing Mac in October, and Diminished Drumsticks in November.

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13 thoughts on “The Downsizing Dozen: Dwindling Decorations

  1. I’m having an after-Christmas purge of decorations. Due to circumstances here, I decorated much less than usual, and found that I only displayed the things I’m really attached to – tomten from Sweden, a Christmas quilt, and some favorite ornaments on the tree. The rest is just extra stuff so I find myself ready and looking forward to downsizing. Thanks for the inspiration!
    P.S. I love your cheery snowman candy dish; I’m glad he got to stay!

    1. Sorry to read about those circumstances on your blog, Bonny, but I hope everything is getting better for you and your family. I love tomten! The Christmas quilt sounds lovely. I will always keep all the handmade items as long as they last. And we certainly don’t need the candy, but our snowman candy dish is a welcome sight every year. Glad you like him, and best wishes in the New Year!

  2. I don’t know where to start. With the “life raft ” of two storage bins and an ornament box and the “open sea of Goodwill,” or the “miserly parents” (LOL at that one) or “Christmas detritus,” which has a lovely flow to it. This was a gem.

    But of course there is the whole examination of paring down, of deciding what’s important. You sure hit a nerve with that. It’s so good to hear the reflections of someone who has really done it.

    I love the snowman, and I also love the warmth he brings to the entire notion of simplifying. There is still warmth and there are still keepers of memories.

    Thanks for a lovely piece to take into the new year. And a very happy one to you all!

    1. I had fun with the “life raft” analogy, Maureen, and I’m glad you liked the vocabulary. I’m pretty rusty, and just getting back my writing legs. And yes, there is such a thing as too much paring down and loss. Here’s for striking a balance in 2015. Happy New Year to you and yours!

  3. Purging things feels so good — I do it too often and months later I think, “where did I put ___? Oh yeah, I put it in Goodwill/sold it. Oh well.” I live in a 1BR, so I can definitely live with that feeling. My parents always partake in the Dragging of the Greens, and I relish the thought of being finished in 20 minutes. Quality, not quantity. Happy downsizing!

    1. Hi Meghan! There are times when something I’ve let go would come in handy, but the responsibility of housing and caring for that item before its use is too much most of the time. If you live in a 1BR, you know what I mean. You raise a good point about un-decorating quickly, and I look forward to getting everything put away in no time! Thanks for commenting, and I enjoy reading your blog, fellow plant lover!

      1. Back atcha! I’m already feeling the itch and spring is so far away. Plants are the only things I collect regardless of space, much to the detriment of my wood furniture and carpets. Haha!

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