Material vs Spiritual ~ A holiday decorating evolution

Uncategorized Dec 26, 2018

The holidays for me are exciting, I’ve always been enamoured from Thanksgiving through Christmas with all of the sights, sounds and smells. Once the fall decorations go up in late September we didn’t see the actual home decor until after New Year. It was pretty and lifted life up out of the ordinary.

As I’ve been on my own organizing journey as well as accompanied countless others, I started to find myself less thrilled with all of the stuff related to the holidays. It seemed to hit me when I went into a home of a client with loads of bins and boxes of holiday decorations-all holidays. There was another organizing project that I was working on that affected the way I look at the decorations and the holidays now. This particular client had a complete set of very expensive Christmas China along with an extensive collection of expensive holiday decor. The client had been holding on to all of this in hopes of passing it on to her children. Sadly, the children had no interest in them. All of the beautiful dishes and decor was pushed into the “stuff” category. This really left me questioning my own collections of decorations.

It started for me with Easter. I had an extensive Easter village (purchased for me by my mom) which my children loved when it was put out every year. We would decorate it with the Easter grass and it had lights, it was a welcome sight in anticipation for spring. Last Easter I made the executive decision to keep the Easter village in the boxes in the basement. My kids, with the youngest being in high school, no longer had any interest in helping with the enormous task of setting up the village. The mere thought of it really did not bring me joy or excitement like it did before. I did convince them to color Easter eggs and I did have an Easter basket waiting for them on Easter morning. The very minimal Easter decorations I decided to put out were spring flowers.  This minimalist approach allowed me to focus on the spiritual side of Easter and there I did feel joy.

Thanksgiving came and I again decided to simplify my decorations. Fall is actually beautiful where I live so I can open up the blinds and enjoy the natural decorating. My focus again became more spiritual, it was a time to focus on gratitude. All that really mattered to me was the guest list, who would be joining us for dinner. That is really the most important part. We have traditions that don’t involve decorations we still wanted to share in. For our family, after dinner, we like to play a game or cards, go walk off the meal, have dessert and watch a Christmas movie. There is football thrown in there as well. This is the heart of our celebration. The funny part is that no one really noticed the minimized amount of decorating if they did they didn’t mention it. I took that to mean, it really wasn’t important. There is alot of freedom in this, I can get rid of decorations if I choose or decide to put them all out next year.

The real test was Christmas. My husband has always remarked that our house resembled a Hallmark store at Christmas! We have alot of decorations, 15 large bins! As I went into the space to get them out, I couldn’t do it. I knew in my heart that wasn’t Christmas. I took a poll of our family to see what their favorite decorations were and pulled those out. Then I took a look around my house to see where I really wanted to make it festive and matched that with my favorite decorations. It was definitely less work to put it out and will be to take down so that’s a positive for sure. The simplicity in my decorating led to the Nativity and its creche being placed on the buffet in the dining room. During Advent, we eat in the formal dining room every night so this puts the Nativity front and center of our minds where it ought to be during the Christmas season. I really enjoy having my prayer time in front of the  Nativity and Advent wreath which is also in the dining room. It keeps me from getting caught up in the material aspect of Christmas.

Now, don’t get me wrong I do think there is something special about sitting in front of the fireplace with the Christmas lights being the only light in the room. It is really a nice way to slow down and think about all that is important.  I do love the lights of Christmas! Now, I’ve really centered on the reason for the season in the way I decorate.

For me, I believe I’ve found the balance between the material stuff and the spiritual focus on the holidays. I no longer feel like Cindy  Lou Who from the “Grinch”.  The evolution has led to our celebrations really feel like they have so much more value to them.


Wishing  you an organized life,

Darlene Illig

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