We decorated for Christmas.

We decorated for Christmas yesterday.

By “we” I mean Greg and I decorated for 6 hours and four of the kids decorated for 6 minutes and one teenager decorated in absentia.

By “Greg and I decorated” I mean we pulled out the Christmas boxes, discovered that only half of every string of lights worked, debated the merits of our disposable culture, decried our participation therein, rejected the temptation to buy all new lights, committed to being better stewards of our resources, cozied up to Google for light management lessons, headed to Home Depot to purchase a nifty tool that actually repaired our light strings, and, in the end, felt satisfyingly superior.

When I say “the kids decorated for 6 minutes,” I’m not including their help stepping on the light strings or their fights over stocking placement or the number of times they asked if it was time yet. Is it time yet? Is it time? Is it time now? How ’bout now? they said. And we replied, NO! It is NOT TIME YET. We are SAVING THE EARTH one Christmas light at a time. Now go use too much electricity to watch another episode of Phineas and Ferb and I will TELL you when we’re ready.

And by “one teenager decorated in absentia,” I mean she spent the day hanging out with a friend and arrived home after the other kids were abed and the light strings were repaired and the boxes were removed and the floor was swept and the work was complete and the parents were ensconced on the couch in front of Downton Abbey, and she wondered aloud why we chose a red and green theme when blue and silver is clearly superior, and she sighed sadly at our decorating ineptitude.

Like every one of the past ten years, my mantle proclaims PEACE throughout this holiday season.

This is my subtle little joke to myself.

It makes me giggle every time. And, oddly, feel at peace.

……….

When do you decorate for the holidays? Last year, I put up my tree the day after Halloween. What can I say? I’m a weirdo. This year, I’m seriously considering following the Alaskan tradition of leaving my lights up ’til the Iditirod dog sledding race starts on March 2nd. It’s dark and dismal outside, so this tradition makes sense to me. Why do we take our lights down in January?? Thoughts? Doctrinal positions? Political statements?

……….

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ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
31 comments
  1. You’re brilliant. Always a thoughtful and inspirational bright light.

  2. We have those same stockings! My nana started making them and my Mom is working on carrying on the tradition. I have never seen anyone else with them!

    1. Fun! You can see I’ve only done 5 of the 7. I did NOT plan on 5 kids when I started cross-stitching stockings 100 years ago! I actually have Stocking #6 done, but I’ve been stuck on the last and final one for about 4 years now. Maybe this year I’ll finish.

  3. Arrgh, getting pleasantly distracted reading the comments I’ve missed!

  4. I have never heard of a tree light repair gizmo but am sure that would have saved my husband a couple of hours of work just putting our outdoor lights up where every single strand was not working. We did everything but the tree b/c I like leaving it up until New Years Day. I like the idea of leaving the outdoor lights up until March. It is so nice to come in the dark and see the lights on outside. Not sure our HOA would approve though.

  5. Can you hire someone to do your Christmas decorating for you? With me in a community theater production of “It’s a Wonderful LIfe”, and Melissa with a choir concert this weekend and George Fox commencement 2 weeks after that, having someone do our decorating would be awesome: the tree, the lights (indoors & out), the knickknacks, the garland on the stairs, the wreaths, etc.

    What about the baking? I’d like 3-4 dozen spritz cookies, some cut-out sugar cookies for decorating (we can do that part ourselves, since it involves candy and frosting), some ginger cookies, and how about 9 apple strudels to give to friends, okay? And some cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning breakfast.

    Obviously, I need to start buying more Powerball Lottery tickets (“any” would be more than I’m currently buying), because the prospect of hiring out all our seasonal decorating is just so appealing. And what about our landscaping, too. And home maintenance? And, heck, why not laundry and dishes while we’re at it?

    Sorry, the thought of shedding all those chores took my breath away for a minute…

    1. Webb, for two years in a row I had a couple of friends come over and decorate. I had a new, large house and had no idea where to put the decorations I’d accumulated. They suggested I provide several rolls of decorative wire ribbon and I got out all my stuff and left for work for the day. I came home to a lovely, decorated house, with a note here and there (iron this tablecloth, add more ribbon here, etc.) They insisted that they loved doing it, and didn’t charge me a thing.

      1. Sounds great. it reminds of the story of The Shoemaker and the Elves.

  6. Peace. Yes, I like your private joke–a very healthy one!

    I am totally with you on leaving at least outside lights up, and at least through January. I figure we can use all the extra light we can get that time of year!

    1. YES! We can start a new trend. Our neighbors will LOVE it. 😉

  7. It’s kind of a rule here in the Netherlands to wait until after Sinterklaas has left (he leaves a big bag of presents on our doorstep on december 5, and the morning of december 6 he sails off to Spain). So I’ll probably get a tree on December 9 and decorate it with my 8 year old. I give my inner child free reign too, so our tree is full of everything colourful and shiny. I love it!

    1. Love it! Thanks for sharing, Rolien.

  8. We usually decorate the weekend after Thanksgiving. Our tree is artificial because in Spain where we live they don’t sell cut natural trees. They sell small trees in huge pots that weigh approximately 1000 lbs, and then I can’t figure out what do do with them, or how to get it out of the house, so then it dies and I have a 995 lb pot of dirt to do away with. Once the lights are on and tree is up my 8 year old spearheads the decorating, which I love, because it means that there are clumps of ornaments and it’s all uneven and I think that’s perfect. No decoration theme, just all the ornaments we’ve made and collected over the years, which stuff the tree full. The oldest is a paper star that my grandmother made the year my mom was born in 1948, which I think is cool. This year we tied the tree to the wall as there are a couple toddlers who are frequent visitors. My 13 year old carried boxes up and down the stairs and that was it, but I think that’s a great contribution! Hapy holidays everyone!

    1. Hahaha! Thanks for letting us in on your story, Sandra. I love that you still have your grandmother’s star.

      Happy holidays right back at ya.

  9. I don’t put up a tree! Blasphemy I know.

    I do put decorations around & about but not until after tomorrow (Nov. 27) because it is my birthday and Christmas can’t happen until my birthday is done. That is the law, in my apartment anyways.

    I don’t have a colour scheme or any style, just stuff that has happened into my life in the last 30 years that I haven’t broken.

    1. Happy (belated now) Birthday, Gaylin!

  10. Ha! Like the little peace joke to yourself. I’m thinking I’m going to start a similar theme to last the year. I’m going to get signs made that say SANE, NORMAL, etc.. and hide them around the house..

  11. Haha, I’m so glad I’m not the only one. I’ve got the Three Kings staring me down on my counter right now. “Hey lady, we’ve got three badass gifts for Jesus and you haven’t a CLUE what to purchase for your stepmother? Loser.”

  12. Does that repair gizmo actually work as easily as the video says it does? I think I threw away a dozen strands last year!

    1. YES! Janelle, I kept saying to Greg, “IT’S MAGIC!” All of the non-burned-out lights came back on at the click of the clicking clicker thing, and then we could actually find the burned-out lights to replace them. We got the gizmo for incandescent lights (that’s what we have on our strings inside our house), but I just told Greg we’re also going to have to get the LED gizmo now (for our outside lights) because it made the job of repairing light strings possible. Before, we always just tossed ’em.

  13. We had a “teenager decorated in absentia” this year too – and like yours when asked how she likes the tree replied “artificial”. (You’re right that’s not a compliement. lol) You know the saying, “misery loves company” and your post is making me realize I’m in good company.

    1. Heh heh. I like your teen. That’s fabulous. And thanks for the company!

  14. I NEVER put my tree up until around the 10th. Mostly, this was for practical reasons – we usually got a real tree, and I didn’t want to deal with the fire-hazardous needles all over the place. Now I have a little-ish one who is allergic to trees of any variety except “faux” so it really doesn’t matter, except for I have to move furniture and clean and what-not, so I work myself up to it. Like right now, I see that you have decorated, so I will start thinking about decorating, starting with taking down the Halloween lights. But I will do this slowly, and sometime in the next two weekends. My tree is always up by Christmas. But that reminds me – I used to know this family with three little boys, all close in age. SANTA CLAUS BROUGHT THEIR TREE WITH HIM ON CHRISTMAS EVE!!!! I have never heard anything as masochistic as that in my entire life. My biggest Christmas wish is that I actually get an hour sleep before it’s time to get up.

    1. Ha! Cathie – that’s the very definition of masochism. I remember the year we begged grandparents to put together our twins’ bikes because I just couldn’t bear the idea of staying up all night to do it ourselves. Thank God for involved grandfathers, is what I’m saying.

      P.S. Our tree is faux for the same allergy reasons. Having a faux tree in the Pacific Northwest is practically illegal. We try to hide our shame.

  15. Love this! Fantastic. Perhaps I too shall procure a “Peace” for my fireplace.

    Just FYI, we once divested our Christmas tree of all its lights and decorations sometime in January (certainly not by the Twelfth Day) but somehow left the actual foliage standing in the living room until August. This is no word of a lie. And, as you know, I have four wizened specimens from 2008 onwards lying up the side of my house, waiting to be recycled. One of my friends writes in my diary every year on January 6th “YOUR TREE HAD BETTER BE DOWN BY NOW!” and it just never is.

    Hope you enjoyed Downton Abbey 😀 xxx

    1. Hahaha! I love being in good company.

    2. It’s like you are actually from my family. My parents have a habit of un-decorating the tree…and then moving it ten feet out to the patio….where it lives until summer, when my brother or my husband pitch it into the ravine behind the house (which they own…we aren’t dumping it onto someone else’s nicely maintained property). When I was little they would stop plugging in the lights after Christmas but the tree would be up until I had time to take it all the decorations off…when I was TEN. And then it would just sit there because I was TEN and couldn’t move a Christmas tree on my own. lol And now? My husband put our tree on the front porch on Wednesday because they make me sneeze and so I was ready to get it out…but we had 15 inches of snow that day and he wasn’t able to take it to the recycler. I hope it doesn’t live on the porch until August but I can’t make any promises. I’m sure our neighbors LOVE US.

  16. I love reading your blog!! Thank you for the pick-up.

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