by Chrysa Smith

Starting right about now, my nesting instincts kick in. I’ve got my scented candles burning, my fireplace roaring and I’m curled up on the sofa with a cozy blanket and two furry friends. The throw pillows have been ‘seasoned’ in slip-covered shades of sage green, burgundy and gold. And I’ve pulled out all the seasonal decor: fresh mums, fake pumpkins and dried willow branches. It’s cozy. It’s inviting. It feels like home. And except for replacing the pumpkins and dead mums with some evergreen branches, poinsettias and lights, my new fall resolution is to keep cutting and simplifying until I actually can say that ‘Yes, I really have enjoyed the holidays for a change.’

Why is it, that so many of us go into a sort of ‘mindless robotic mode’ between Halloween and New Year? Like rats in a maze, we run around with endless holiday check lists in hand—drained, rushed and pressured by those traditions that ‘have been or are suppose to be a certain way.’ I’ve questioned it, but crazily overrode my inner voice that’s repeatedly asked: What on earth are you doing? What is the point of these holidays? Exhaustion? Hospitalization?

So this year I say, ‘Rebels, grab your magazines, favorite CD’s and holiday movies, and get rid of your ‘should’ lists that ensure complete and utter burnout between the Thanksgiving turkey and the Christmas egg-nog. No, this year I actually mean it! Plan now to make your decor do double-duty, and put the brakes on the Suzie Homemaker bake-a-thons (unless this serves as some sort of repetitive sedative, which might actually have medicinal value).

Here’s my plan this year: Bare branches are already out; they’ll be strung with lights and serve as ‘decorative lit tree.’ Berried branches are in vases with pine cones. There’s nothing to water, nothing to clean up after, and I can keep it going from now through New Year’s and beyond, without crazily digging out all sorts of ornaments, a green tree and more lights in a month’s time. That time I’ll use to simply scatter some large poinsettias and cuttings of evergreen from the yard to make it feel like Christmas and wait for the complaints of a college-age son who thinks it’s just ‘weird’ that we don’t have a big, decorated Christmas tree. Maybe it is. Maybe I’m getting to be one of those old ladies who wants a 24 inch tree that comes out of a box year-after-year, ready to go. That’s OK. I’m hoping to be well-rested and in a good mood, which might just bode well for him on Christmas morning, as we open our presents under a bare tree.

Maybe bare limbs and store bought cookies aren’t your idea of the holiday spirit. Whatever yours is, over the next eight weeks, take note of those extra things you will do–if you must do them, if you really enjoy doing them, if anything would suffer if you didn’t and perhaps, what you could be doing if that wasn’t on your list. Then relax and know that the celebrating, the joy and the time to enjoy, the pretty and the highly caloric stuff of the season, is for you to enjoy too, along with your family and friends.
p.s….I just noticed two fake trees in the basement. Should I? No, just say no. But what about my son? He won’t need a therapist if there’s no big tree. Really? Time will tell, my friends. Time will tell.