Did Someone Just Shoot a Gun?

When I was younger I had a collection of wreaths for our front door, all of them hung on nails that I'd hammered into the wall of the garage (yes, he loved that I did that). The older I got the less wreaths I bothered to put out, or keep. I gave our middle daughter January's, with the ice skates hanging from it, a favorite of mine, but she loved it more. There was a big rabbit for Easter, and someone likely picked that up at Goodwill for $5 or less. Halloween had a big jack-o-lantern and it flew the coop years ago. So I got some great advice from my oldest daughter, Sarah, that has benefited me for several years now. It may sound a bit sacrilegious, but it saves me so much work, I thought I'd pass it on.

Decorate for seasons.

Ignore all the cra-cra out there on Pinterest, pitching the perfect Thanksgiving or Christmas, and don't decorate for holidays, but rather for seasons.

That means my #1 wreath is a simple yellow forsythia that I put out in around March; I leave it up all summer long, until I switch it out to this,

my #2 fall wreath.
 I leave it out until December 1, when I put up wreath #3, with silver bells and white trim, to decorate for winter, not Christmas. Wreath #3 stays there until #1 - the yellow forsythia - goes back up.

Heeding my daughter's advice, instead of decorating for Halloween, which would have needed to be put away today, I decorated for fall, with this one wreath, mums planted in the pots at the front door, a cute little scarecrow and a wooden sign stuck in the ground. Inside I drew on the big kitchen chalkboard a bunch of fall words, (football, apple cider, pumpkins, leaves, etc.) so it'll stay that way for another month.

For the kids, we did put this out yesterday afternoon, plugged it in for a few hours, then unplugged it, and put it back in the upstairs closet for another year. I'm all about simple and have never loved carving pumpkins anyway. My theory was that after giving birth multiple times Cub Sweetheart could deal with slimy pumpkins and children playing with knives one night of the year. He never argued with it.

I know. It flies in the face of everything out there, but I',m convinced I can be a Christ-follower and not have Jesus on every single decoration, or maybe not on any? We have things in our home, all year long, that would tell anyone looking around what our beliefs are, but instead of a manger scene, which has to be put away December 26, (I gave all three - one each - to our three grown kids' families, to enjoy in their homes) The Littles and I put out a snow village around December 1, and we leave it up through February, because it's still winter. They love helping me clear out the built-in bookshelves, then lay down the roads, set up the lit up houses, trees, glass people sitting on benches, the bright red and yellow cars, etc. and then we sprinkle it with a very healthy dose of fake snow. After it's all set up we celebrate with cocoa and cookies and watching a Christmas movie together.

IF we put up a Christmas tree, which isn't every year, depending on whether we're in Texas or Idaho for Christmas, I leave it up way beyond Christmas to justify the work of putting it up. One of my dear friends strips hers of all decorations after Christmas and leaves it up with just tiny white lights through February to cheer up the grey winter of Pennsylvania where she lives. Brilliant!

I'm also starting to think hard about any holiday and seasonal decorations, when I pull them out of storage. If I don't still love them as much as I did when I first bought them, or think I will hate taking them down, rather than put them out, I take them to Goodwill. If there's one great thing about Pinterest it's the plethora of ideas it provides. There are so many ways to decorate for seasons, to make your home beautiful and warm and welcoming and festive without an entire Santa collection, or Christmas trees in every room. (You can go here for my Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter boards on Pinterest.)

This approach is a new trend for me, a matter of a handful of years. Twenty years ago we lived in a house, named after the family who built it in 1912, the McCant home.  One year we were asked to be on the Christmas tour of homes, and I went insane and put up five decorated trees. The people who paid to go on the tour loved it. I did not, which means our family did not. So maybe a start is to have one tree rather than five for some of you, as it was for me? Or give away your Santa collection as I did?

A number of years ago I went through all the tree decorations and sorted about half of them out into three piles. Then I bundled them up and mailed them to our grown kids to decorate their own trees. I love knowing they can share stories with their small children of the memories they have of past holidays we celebrated together.

Wouldn't it be great if November could feel like the start of a time of year when we slow down a bit, have time for the things that truly matter? I know I'm not alone in walking into Target and feeling like someone shot the gun and started the race to December 25. I'm also absolutely, 100% convinced Jesus never intended his birthday to make us all crazy stressed and our budgets over-extended. For me personally, I am hoping to do what I can to make November in our home a place where we can concentrate on our blessings, and have time to bless others. Wouldn't it be great if December could be a time when the accompanying music, to suit the tone, was 'Oh Holy Night', rather than 'Jingle Bell Rock'?

So how about you? Are you trying to make things more simple?  Or is the crazy busyness of the season part of what makes it great for you? (Really?!?!?!)

And if you are trying to simplify but still hold onto what makes this time of year so special, please share any ways that have worked for you.  I imagine if we don't already feel that way, within just a couple of weeks we'll all feel like we could use some extra room to breathe.



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