When I was growing up I used to love to decorate the Christmas tree. Dad’s job was dragging the tree in, setting it up and putting on the lights. My little sister Amy and I helped him with the lights, but then he typically disappeared while Mom, Amy and I decorated the tree. We loved unwrapping the ornaments and recalling the stories behind each of them. My mom will probably tell you that I lost interest in decorating the tree as a teenager, but I don’t seem to remember it that way.
Fast forward 30+ years and I find myself with a husband and two teenage sons, who have absolutely no interest in having anything to do with the tree other than dragging it up the stairs and into the living room and setting it up for me. They don’t even have to string it with lights, because it is pre-lit. Strangely enough, just like my dad always did they seem to disappear when it comes time to decorate.
Faced with decorating the tree alone this year I decided it was time to get smart about decorating it. As can be seen in the photo above, all of our family ornaments are stored in stacking plastic totes. Four of the levels house what I call our “family favorites”, four levels hold ornaments that I have purchased or have been gifted to my sons over the years (they will take these with them when they have their first trees) and the final three levels house what I would term the “second string” ornaments. I love a decorated tree, but dread the thought of unwrapping each of the ornaments and placing them on the tree. Because of this dread, I have really tough time getting started. This year, I started by asking myself this important question: “What is most important to me about having a decorated tree?” My answer: Being able to enjoy my special collections of ornaments, ornaments from our trips over the years, ornaments from our childhoods and ornaments that my boys made growing up.
What I realized when I answered this question is that very few of the second string ornaments met these criteria. In a very short amount of time I not only decided to not put most of those second stringers on the tree this year, but I was also able to quickly select a dozen or so that I donated to the local thrift shop. The result is a tree filled with the most important ornaments, as opposed to every ornament that has ever made it into the ornament boxes. An added bonus is a storage space available to house meaningful future ornaments.
What questions might you ask yourself when decorating your tree and your home this year and what kind of difference might asking them make?