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Driving home last night, on a dark subzero evening, I saw something that made me stop and circle the block for another look.
It was a holiday light display, a fiesta-bright rainbow of color that lit up the lawn.
Yes, January is more than half over, and most of us have taken down our holiday finery, probably even weeks ago. But this festive remnant in south Minneapolis looked awfully warm and cozy on such a frigid night. It cheered me up, just looking at it.
Most people, me included, are generally sick of holiday decorations by mid-January. Some folks even look askance at those procrastinating slackers who haven't yet gotten around to undecorating.
Are there "rules" about when holiday decor becomes a stale eyesore? One newspaper, the Capital Gazette of Annapolis, Md., conducted a reader poll. The results: While a majority (55 percent) said they undeck the halls between Jan. 2 and Jan. 6, and almost 29 percent do it even earlier, there was still a good-sized chunk of folks who take their time -- 13.5 percent said "Whenever" and 2.6 percent said "Never." (http://www.capitalgazette.com/news/when-do-you-take-down-your-holiday-decorations/poll_4605187c-5028-11e2-a08c-0019bb2963f4.html)
Most people seem to agree that the Christmas tree, at least, should come down by Twelfth Night (12 days after Christmas). But there seems to be a little more tolerance for outdoor holiday decor that sticks around well past the New Year. Maybe that's especially so here in Minnesota, where January is often too cold, snowy, icy or all-around miserable for mucking around with outdoor decorations.
The Huffington Post took a stab at writing "guidelines" for taking down holiday decor. While holiday-specific decorations like Santas and candy canes should probably come down promptly, more generic winter decor, such as lights, can be left up longer without raising neighbors' eyebrows. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/29/take-down-holiday-decorations_n_1174822.html)
On "Today," Kathie Lee and Hoda also weighed in -- with Hoda confiding that her family once left their decorated tree up until February. (http://www.today.com/id/40819956/site/todayshow/ns/today-today_home_and_garden/t/when-do-you-take-down-christmas-decorations/#.UP7SQWeUBI2)
How about you? Do you have a different timetable for indoor and outdoor holiday decor? And what do you think of neighbors who leave their holiday decorations up until Groundhog's Day?
The halls were decked, the Christmas tree had lovely branches and although chestnuts were not roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost was surely nipping at our noses. We had Christmas, it was merry, and now I want closure. More importantly, I want my living room back.
A few weeks ago, I had a casual conversation with someone at the dentist office about getti
I'm not sure when the switch flipped for me. I'm one who loves to leave the tree lit 24/7 leading up to the holidays; the soft glow of the tree makes me feel warm inside.
Now? I look at the soft glow and all I see are legos and bits of wrapping paper and tape on the floor. What seemed warm and cozy just two days ago now seems cramped. Christmas stockings are laid all over the place, their contents leaving a trail from tree to, well, everywhere.
But is too soon to say farewell to the holidays?
When I start to mention de-holidaying I get a few whimpers from the kids, who think that the holiday season should last as long as school's out. When I start to get serious, they usually scatter. Everyone loves putting the tree up, but no one likes taking it down.
More often than not I hold out until New Year's, but each year it's getting more difficult. I'm eager to put everything in its place and start the new year with a clean, organized house. (A girl can dream, right?)
How long do you wait before taking down the holiday decorations? Do you even decorate at all?
There was a time in my life -- before kids, obviously -- that I really felt in control. I had to-do lists that actually got done, I had a relatively clean house, and my free time was, well, free.
But that was then, and this is now. Parenting teaches us many things, and one of the hardest lessons I've learned is that control is often an illusion. And there's nothing like the holidays to keep that notion front and center.
Then: The Christmas tree was a collection of handmade ornaments and carefully selected
Then: I spread holiday cheer far and wide, baking treats or making ornaments for friends, family, co-workers and the kids' teachers/instructors. Now: A sheepish grin, hastily written Christmas card and a trip down the aisles of Target or the liquor store at the 11th hour.
Then: When hosting the holidays, I would put out quite a spread, and even would set out the good dishes and serving pieces days ahead to make sure everything was just so. Now: Bring a dish to pass, and you don't mind Chinet, do you?
Then: The entire house had to be in shape (I'd never say spotless), especially over the holidays when guests were frequent. Now: Watch your step, and please don't go into my bedroom or open any closets.
Then: Music played quietly in the background as people talked, laugh and shared a drink. Now: Impromptu piano recitals and band concerts (which have gotten much better with experience).
Then: Would work to get out any spots, stains, etc. that might be in the carpet or on the furniture. Now: A flip of the couch cushions and a throw rug works for me. And candlelight.
Then: I had a craft room -- an entire room. Now: What? I used to have hobbies?
Don't get me wrong, I still wear the Type A banner loud and proud, and there are things I really miss. But as I get older (and quite frankly, more tired), there are certain things just not worth the angst. Embracing the chaos makes for a much more relaxed house, and a much more relaxed mom. Sure, those ornaments I made years ago might be sitting in a box, but I wouldn't trade the macaroni angels for anything.
Do you have a hard time letting go? What was the most difficult thing to give up?
I have immense respect for tradition. I'm usually the one saying, "But we've always done it this way." Or, "the kids will expect it." Or, "Because. Just because."
So I have no explanation, or defense, for what happened this weekend: I changed how we (cough, I) decorate the Christmas tree.
In some ways, I saw this coming. I've been itching to change up things lately, whether it's where I store the flour to which window gets which plant. A bout of the crappiest cold I've had in years slowed me down some, so we were a week behind getting tree up ... and it was smaller than usual ... and I suddenly saw an opportunity.
This year, instead of being loaded with a highly varied collection of ornaments gathered over the past 30 years, our tree now has about two dozen glass balls in shades of green, and about a dozen feathered birds -- the sort you stick into equally fake wreathes or whatnot.
I like it, and the rest of the family has given its blessing, although my husband looked at me a little too closely before nodding, apparently deciding I was a danger to no one.
The fact is, I just couldn't face all those ornaments this year. The ritual of placing each one, which I normally find calming, just sounded annoying this season. I'm not defying Christmas, just some of its habits. And, I'm finding that we survive and may even be reinvigorated. I mean, odds are huge that I will revert to tradition next year, probably because I will want to see the ornaments again.
It's not as if my traditions hadn't already changed. As most married couples know, vows never cover the really important things, like how you decorate your Christmas tree. I moved from being a flocked-and-twinkle-light woman to a colored bulbs and tinsel spouse. The adaptation was only a little painful. Frankly, I never thought I'd change again.
Until this year.
Have you changed long-held traditions, whether in decor, or food, or rituals? Was it accepted? Did you revert the next year? Did it lead to other tweaks? What happens when someone - say in the younger generation - wants to change tradition?
I had all year to get new carpet in the living and dining rooms, but waited until right before Christmas to start hunting for it. I guess I got used to seeing that big gray stain next to the dining table and the rust blob from spilled water under the plant stand. But I sure don’t want anyone else to see them.
Inviting people over for holiday gatherings is a better motivator than Tony Robbins. The looming deadline pushes me to get my home rejuvenation projects all wrapped up.
Last year, I replaced ny nonfunctioning old stove with a new one the day before my pals came over for our annual Christmas cookie bake. It's easy to get energized when the end result is fresh-baked cookies.
This year, I really need a push. In the 12 days before Christmas, I’ll be pondering frieze, cut and loop pile and saxony at the carpet stores. Then moving furniture for the carpet installer. That’s on top of grocery and gift shopping, cooking baking, cleaning, and of course, making my house merry and bright.
I have friends who waited to remodel outdated bathrooms and kitchens until right before they threw a big graduation party. For my son's graduation bash, I plan to put in a big concrete patio and plant lovely landscaping in the backyard.
But there's no hurry. I have until May 2015 — that’s when he graduates.
Do you procrastinate? What are some home projects you’ve accomplished in a short time under the gun?
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