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Holidays? Again?

Original to Times-Standard

It is October and our thoughts turn to harvest, the change of seasons, and before we know it, the “Holidays.” For some, this brings excitement at the prospect of readying our families and homes for the season.

We have all seen lavishly decorated homes. The front lawns, the house, and every “public” space of the home decorated to a “T.” Some of you have been behind these incredible sights.

My sister loved to decorate and completely replaced decorations every year or two. When she died, I inherited everything and at first, kept it all. After my recent downsize, I donated anything I didn’t absolutely love. l will always love my sister, but these things weren’t her.

As a 15 year old exchange student in Germany I immersed myself in their traditions. My family exchanged small Christmas gifts and enjoyed long walks and skating on a frozen nearby lake. We sat around the tree watching the real candles flicker as the family sang Christmas songs. We baked Christmas cookies for holiday visitors, enjoyed German Christmas Markets, drank “Gluehwein,” ate Gebrannte Mandeln, (Google it) and went to an amazing midnight mass in a small chapel in the woods. Malls and 24 hour shopping weren’t part of it.

My next overseas Christmas was in Botswana – a summertime Christmas. My Motswana family had a small artificial tree. That was it. There wasn’t money for gifts, but we cooked a huge meal and enjoyed each other’s company. At twilight, as the brutal sun began to cut us some slack, we danced outside in the cooler night air with music blasting from a car stereo. It was very non-commercial.

When my Dad and stepmom Lorna downsized, it was painstakingly slow, sometimes done with great ceremony as they bestowed us with their things.

This seemed to go on forever. One Christmas, I felt some sadness as I realized they had completed disbursing the “heirloom gifts.” I opened the first shoebox: wine corks. The second: old holiday ornaments. Ah you say, “But what a wonderful heirloom gift! Decorations passed down over the years!”

Um, not exactly. Included was a Styrofoam ball someone had decorated at school to bestow upon unsuspecting parents. It had one or two tinsel-like appendages still connected to it. Otherwise it was all Stryofoam.

I did keep the funny looking fairy (or was it a pixie?) I remembered as a child, even though none of us made it. Everything else went into the trash. They had finished this leg of their journey and there would be no more heirloom gifts until the next significant event.

Whatever the tradition, do it for the right reasons. The holiday season causes unnecessary stress if we compare ourselves to others or our earlier years and think we still need to do it all.

Carrying the boxes of decorations from storage, unpacking everything, and climbing up and down ladders takes time and energy. It’s better to do it because you want to. If this seems overwhelming, it’s okay to scale back and focus on other aspects of the season you enjoy.

If you want to do it all, but need some help, Kraft Transitions offers a holiday decorating service. We are not Santa or reindeers so we won’t put decorations on your roof or anywhere that requires flying or a tall ladder, but otherwise we can unpack and place your decorations wherever you like.

If you want to downsize after the holidays we will support you in choosing the items you love most and help you pass special items to family members to continue the tradition in their own homes. We can help you donate any unwanted or unneeded items. Just keep the fairy.

Nothing has value when everything has value. Choose those traditions and items that mean the most to you. Embrace them and let everything else go.

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