Looking around the garage last week, hot off of hosting July 4th festivities and looking for a spot to put the extra-large garbage bag full of red, white and blue decorations, my heart sank. I gave the stacked rubber containers commandeering the back half of the garage the stink eye. How did it come to this? I was actually resentful of these holiday decoration bins despite the joy they were supposed to bring. They were taking up prime real estate in my garage and the thought of playing musical chairs with them so I could grab one out of the middle gave me angst. I decided right then, for the sake of my sanity, it was time to make some changes.
Okay, here’s what I vow will now happen during the next twelve months: I’ll go through my covered rubber containers holiday by holiday and throw out half of the dusty decorations and ornaments that haven’t seen the light of day in years. Of course, I say this every year and then as I slip the lid off of each box and unwrap the “treasures” that have been multiplying like rabbits over the decades, I chicken out. Defeated, I end up rewrapping them and layering them back into the box to deal with them next year. No more! This year I will get a backbone!
Christmas is the most decorated holiday in our house. When the kids were little and we had grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins and friends visiting, it was an unspoken law that EVERYTHING was put on display, the Pfaltzgraff Winterberry dishes, the Anna Lee dolls, the Department 56 winter village, the Elf on a Shelf, the light up deer on the porch with the electrified rotating head, evergreen garland and wreaths for the outside, country inspired fake foliage for the inside. Did I leave anything out? The mantle would groan under the weight of faux greenery, sparkly lights, ornaments and candelabras with red and green candlesticks. A smiling snowman hung from every doorknob; the turntable played the Partridge Family Christmas Album as the perfectly sized, hand-picked tree stood straight in its stand like a sentry guarding the presents.
While Christmas stole the show, by no means did that relegate the rest of the holidays to obscurity. Oh, no! Halloween was another three or four rubber bins. I didn’t want the little kids in the neighborhood to be disappointed climbing the stairs to MY front door. There were ceramic pumpkins, witches with light up eyes that cackled and screamed when someone approached and signs warning children to “beware”. Spiders hung from that silky white cobweb stuff that got caught in your fingernails when you tried to pull it apart to spread it across your porch. You couldn’t put out the Halloween decorations too early though because then the trick or treaters would be unimpressed when the big night finally came; they’d been looking at them for weeks! Instead, the scariest decorations went up no more than two days before. By then I had already moved on and was plotting Thanksgiving’s fall harvest theme. Often times, those decorations went back into those rubber containers as soon as the last trick or treater rang my door bell.
Add on Easter, St. Patrick’s Day, Valentine’s Day, the aforementioned July 4th and a festive wreath to herald each of the four seasons and that accounts for another two or three containers. As the years went by and the kids grew up and moved into their own places, I began to wonder who exactly I was spending all this time decorating for? Sure, I like to be festive and I’ve always taken pride in decorating my home, but seriously? It was just getting out of hand.
Back to my pledge. Here’s what’s going to happen. Maybe I’ll tackle those bins in the summer before we travel down that slippery slope known as the holiday season, and if it’s an item that I don’t put out every year (that means you, big glass light-up snowman whose glass carrot nose falls off every time I unwrap you which means I have to remember where I last put the glue gun and then it becomes too much work so I put you right back in the bin) then it’s going in the donate pile. Let someone else figure out how to keep your carrot nose firmly affixed to your face! No more ceramic Easter bunny trays that never fit a reasonable amount of hors d’oeuvres because the 3-D bunny is taking over the plate. No more wooden red Valentine hearts that say “be mine” that are too small to be seen anywhere except maybe on the bathroom sink. No more packages of foil Christmas tree icicles that stick to your clothes when you try to separate them because of static cling and then get stuck in the carpet when you finally take the tree down.
You know how I know I’m ready to edit? The Christmas tree time line is shrinking! I find myself unceremoniously heaving the monstrosity out the door and dragging it to the curb for the recycle truck a day earlier each year. I fear the time will come when I start removing ornaments right after the roast has been served for dinner. “Okay folks.” I imagine myself saying. “Let’s wrap this up. I’ll put the desserts in “to go” boxes. Joey, get the bin for the ornaments. Meg, you’re in charge of unwrapping the Christmas lights. Don’t pull too hard, you’ll strip the needles right off the tree. I stopped watering it five days ago. It’s a little dry and thirsty right now.” I won’t have to worry about the foil icicles in the carpet because I threw that box right back into the bin as soon as I unearthed it.
From now on, the outside of the house gets a festive wreath or wooden holiday representative (that means you, blue wooden Easter bunny and you, orange pumpkin and even you, green leprechaun) and that’s it. For the inside, restraint will be my new mantra. The only exceptions will be anything crafted by my children. There will be a moratorium on ditching any of their art projects from the first preschool plaster hand print to the elementary school wreath made of cranberries and pinecones (because, let’s face it, they stop making you those treasures by middle school). Oh, and the lumpy, green and red candy bowl my youngest made in high school ceramics class? That gets a pass. Anything that comes out of the bin missing a part is automatically out. And that goes for anything that hasn’t come out of the wrapping in two consecutive years. Finally, that Christmas china that’s boxed up in the attic? That will stay right where it is.
Now I just have to find that backbone, I know it’s here somewhere. Ho! Ho! Ho! And to All a Good Night.