Christmas Time is Clutter Time

jamie_mtDecember 15, 2005

I was thinking of this forum this weekend, as I was making a total wreck of my house getting Christmas baskets made up for my business, wrapping gifts to put under our tree, and wondering for the third time where I was going to put a new plant my hubby brought home for me to "save" last week. Christmas is the ultimate in "clutter time" for me - it's the only time that seasonal decorations completely take over rather than merely accent the rooms, and I freely admit to going a bit overboard with it all. I end up feeling rather claustrophobic about a week before christmas, and itching to pack everything up and store it again for another year. During that week, I start thinking about simplifying "next year", maybe not making everything so cluttery, or doing so much "work" like baking and sending Christmas cards.

But it's such an odd thing for me...because while I feel like the decorations are "crowding" me, I still want them up and around, and I still appreciate thier beauty and somewhat "magical" nature. I love to look at my nativity sets, and watch the ornaments sparkle on the tree, and I even gave my husband permission to set up his new electric train in the middle of our dining room table, because even though it just goes around in a circle and makes noise, it just seems to complete the festive look with the placemats and candles and other decorations I have there. It's almost like I *welcome* the clutter, even as it's slowly driving me crazy. LOL And everytime I think of *not* doing christmas cards, I always do them in the end, because I love that feeling of contact with people I rarely talk to or see - even though it's only once a year, it's still something that it just seems wrong *not* to do. I had decided not to do any special baking this year too...but in the end, I will be spending a few hours in the kitchen this weekend, because even though I don't *really* have time, and I certainly don't need the sugar, it's just not Christmas for me if I *don't* do it!

The day after Christmas, I will take it all down - every little piece of it, and pack it away until next year. I will clean my house top to bottom, put out a few "wintery" decor items for January, and sit back to enjoy the peace and calm that comes after all the blinking lights and sparkles and noisy trains and singing reindeer. And next year, while I'll remember that the clutter drives me nuts, and I'll consider doing less "this year", I won't, because I know that deep down, I crave the noise and lights and clutter of the season - perhaps just so I can enjoy the peace that comes again in January all the more.

All this said for no real reason, other than I thought of the people of this forum that are constantly striving to simplify, organize, and find that "constant calm" in thier lives...and while I tend to strive for that too, I have suddenly realized that sometimes I *need* the cluttery aspects of life as well - maybe just to balance out all the organized peace I'm constantly looking for.

So for today, tomorrow, and the weekend, I'm embracing my Christmas clutter with open arms. Next week, I'm sure the pre-christmas claustrophobia will start creeping in, preparing me to clear everything out and embrace my eternal quest for organization again on the 26th. :-)

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Jamie, I could have written the post that you did. I just didn't realize I felt that way until you put it into words. Welcome back. I have missed seeing you post. I don't post here very often, but read fairly often. I guess I am more of a taker than giver here. I feel that I am so unorganized that I need the inspiration some (a lot) of you give here. Thanks

    Bookmark   December 15, 2005 at 4:04PM
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Great post! I just realized I pretty much feel the same.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2005 at 8:43PM
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Jamie, you took the words right out of my mouth. I feel the exact same way!


    Bookmark   December 16, 2005 at 1:44AM
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Jamie, nice to hear from you again!

I know exactly what you mean, although this year I actually went a bit too far in the OTHER direction with my decorating...last year I did a huge cull and got rid of all the red/green and cutesy holiday ornaments, gift wrap, and tree decoration items. Realized I don't own a single piece of clothing, furniture or accessory in those colors so why was I decorating for my favorite holiday that way?! (No offense to red/green lovers of course :). Anyway I replaced with silver, gold and touches of white and love the look.

But when I put out my house decorations this year I first tried to stay with the spare uncluttered look I"m aiming for year round. And, it didn't work. I kept looking around thinking it just wasn't feeling very festive, until I went to KMart (thank goodness for Martha) and picked up more gold/silver bows and got things livened up. I think part of the charm of the holidays is exactly what you say Jamie, having all the 'stuff' out and festooning the house.

Even the ancillary clutter isn't necessarily a bad thing. I've got a couple of storage boxes with all my wrap and trim tucked into the corner of the florida room but every night I haul 'em out and another set of boxes, bags and packages emerges all nicely wrapped and bowed (in silver, gold and white of course). So it is clutter I suppose. But it's clutter that will hopefully make my family and friends happy, and clutter that reflects the joy of the season.

Great post, Jamie!


    Bookmark   December 16, 2005 at 7:46AM
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But why does it all go away on the 26th?

A tradition carried over from childhood, we don't put up our tree until the weekend before Christmas Eve. And it all stays up until New Year's Day, or Jan 2 if I can stand it.

The quiet celebrations of the season continue throughout the week between Christmas and New Years. My kids (and usually my husband) are off. We gather with close friends during this week. In fact, my kids have school through the 23rd, so I think it would disappoint them to be home all week in a non-Christmas sterile environment.

I know the retail world doesn't help with drastic sales beginning the 26th (and promoting them the days before. I hate hearing about after-Christmas sales when Christmas has not even come yet!) And it would be nice if the radio continued playing holiday music until the New Year.

It seems that the only place to find Christmas after the 25th is at church, where the festive decorations and music last a few weeks.

And maybe on soap-operas (LOL)

It just seems like there is a long build-up (beginning before Halloween) to a culmination of one day, when it should last through the week. JMHO.

Sorry to go off-topic and I truly mean no offense (to each their own.)

And I, too, love the feeling come January of having all the Christmas clutter put away. Except for our Nativity which stays up through January 6th

    Bookmark   December 16, 2005 at 10:39AM
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I have been able to simplify decorating quite a bit, simply because I have a lot of red throughout the year in our house, so it doesn't need as much to look "Christmasy", but I know once the trees, nativity, santas, etc. make themselves at home, it really shrinks the place! I love January too . . . my home suddenly seems much bigger and lighter!!

By the way, it is good to "see" you again!


    Bookmark   December 16, 2005 at 11:22AM
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It's nice to "see" all of you too. :-)

Maura, most people around here, including my parents, also leave thier decorations up until New Year's. My MIL sometimes doesn't put hers away until February! So I think you're definately in the majority on that one...I don't think I know anyone else who puts christmas away right after the holiday. :-)

I have a "thing" about starting right away on January 1st with the house all clean and tidy and ready for "winter", it's sort of an "out with the old" type of thing for me. I can't feel like the new year has started until the old year has been "put to bed" properly. I actually have the day off on the 26th, so I'll do most of my "undecorating" then, but I'll be working the rest of the week, as will my husband, so I'll spend the evenings gradually getting my cleaning done, and that Saturday finishing up and getting ready to welcome the new year in with friends. I like to wake up on the 1st to my clean, organized just feels like a good way to start the new year for me. I spend time with both my parents and in-laws on New Year's Day, and it just seems "odd" to still have the christmas stuff up and out then. Not to mention I won't have time then to work on *my* house, as we're expected at the other places. I am thankful that I have the day after New Year's off as's nice when these holidays fall over the weekend, as far as work schedules go.

For me, I start the christmas season the first week of December, and we're celebrating with friends and family the week *before*, so the week after just doesn't seem necessary for me. That's when I'm putting the old year to bed, and gently waking the new year up.

But like I said - I'm the only person I know who does it this way...around here, stores still have thier decorations up that next week, and everyone still turns thier lights on and celebrates, so you're certainly in the majority with your views, and there's nothing wrong with that at all. :-)

    Bookmark   December 16, 2005 at 11:31AM
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Well -- in our family -- there's an old Scots tradition that its bad luck to have the decorations up past Jan. 6th -- Twelfth Night.

And I feel the same way -- way TOO much stuff at first -- and then I really miss all the lights after I put it away!!! LOL!!!

    Bookmark   December 16, 2005 at 4:46PM
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I once had these very nice neighbors. They put up the tree Christmas Eve, the next morning were the presents, then she took it down plus all the decorations. When you came to her house in the afternoon on Christmas, it looked like it always did, no Christmas, very neat, and everything put away, inl. toys and other presents.
I'm just not that fast, it must be kinda hectic.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2005 at 8:29PM
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I'm finding that after the 25th, Christmas is truly over and I am very ready to take everything down. It's like all of a sudden I can't handle the clutter anymore! I don't have it all packed away by the 26th, but it's usually mostly gone by the 1st. January is my decluttering month - not just holiday, but everything no longer loved. I also love to work on the interior of the house during this time, and maybe take a class.


    Bookmark   December 17, 2005 at 2:59AM
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Like Sheryl and Jamie, my decorations are down by January 1. And Jamie, we'll be the minority of two; I feel EXACTLY the way you do about starting the New Year with the house clean and tidy and un-decorated :). In our case though, one of our family traditions is to get our tree on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Not Saturday, not Monday after, but that Sunday and always the same size from the same place. So by Christmas day it's been up along with all the decorations for usually nearly a month. It doesn't feel at all like shortening the season just before New Year's.

But I do love that tree sparkling in the living room. Every night those are the last lights I turn off.


    Bookmark   December 17, 2005 at 7:29AM
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I try to take my tree down on New Year's Day. I say try because if New Year's falls in the middle of the week I sometimes don't get it done because of working on other things. In that case, I work on it in the evenings. The tree is the last thing to come down. I ususally start taking some of the other things down between Christmas & New Year's.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2005 at 8:45AM
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I always hated how empty the house felt after taking down the decorations. Kind of like "now what."

My mom (aged 88) said when she was a kid, Santa brought everything. The tree and the presents just appeared for Christmas morning. Of course, as poor as they were, it probably didn't take long to put the presents out. I would sure hate to try and get that done now while the kids are sleeping.


    Bookmark   December 17, 2005 at 10:48PM
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In theory, our tree is up from the day after Thanksgiving (a work holiday) until New Years Day (another work holiday). Since I'm not home much, it takes a whole month for the extra clutter to start to bother me. LOL

This year... we're several weeks behind!

    Bookmark   December 18, 2005 at 6:32AM
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