Simplifying Christmas

Live in each season as it passes; breathe air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each.    Thoreau

When you make a special effort to create beauty in your home, you set the stage for festivity, an authentic quality of Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, Christmas and Kwanzaa.     Sarah Ban Breathnach


This time of year many religions celebrate a special holiday.  In each of the traditions, the everyday homes are transformed into festive attire as the change of décor adds fun and significance to our lives. This special environment lasts only a short while and then it all comes down, is put away.  We return to ordinary days. In celebrating Christmas, Don and I have tried to find just the right balance of merriment and meaning to suit our style of décor and Simplicity’s uniqueness.


A minimalist at heart, we have simplified what this house wears for Christmas.  Each year less is taken out of the boxed holiday décor and more is donated to a thrift store. Three basic ingredients make Simplicity festive for the season; red berries, the Christmas Spode dishes, and a wreath.


Abundant red berries are my favorite trimming for various places in Simplicity.  The first to find their designated location are arranged above the snowy white kitchen cabinets. Sprouts of red berries jump out of the handmade pottery along the cabinet tops. How I love these artificial springs of red that offer whimsy to a white winter. It is as if the celebrative spirits sprinkled this home with dots of festivity.


The Christmas Spode dishes have been collected over time.  Each year a piece of the Christmas Tree pattern was added until we had enough place settings, serving dishes, and cups with saucers.  Meals, desserts, and coffee served during this season are graced using the Christmas Spode. Everything tastes better and feels like a party. This is one of Simplicity’s traditions that I savor during the holiday.


After a few years with a natural tree, we acquired a used artificial tree from my father.  We quickly discovered how much easier it was to put up, pack away, plus economical.  Then the tree began to look sad, worn out and un-festive.  Before purchasing another artificial tree or a return to a natural tree, we sat with the question of having any kind of tree. The iconic Christmas symbol was up for discussion.  A tree took up sizeable space in Simplicity. Where to put the tree was further complicated by the number of doors, windows, and traffic patterns of our floor plan. To eliminate a Christmas tree from our holiday décor felt un-traditional, as if we were traitors to the season. Then there was the question of what to do with the tree ornaments. Where would they go without a tree?  Did not having a tree mean not having ornaments?


We thought long and hard on this and finally decided that an artificial wreath could hold many of the cherished ornaments gathered over the years. We liked the idea that a circle of greens is honored as a gift of peace.  Plus, we appreciated that the circle is universally found in all cultures and holds similar meanings of unity and wholeness.  With our country struggling to find both a sense of inclusivity and peacefulness, our wreath holds greater importance this year. Just as the diversity of ornaments on our wreath brings richness to our lives, the circle reminds us to honor differences as gifts to the whole.


We have strung the wreath of green with small white lights that dance among our favorite ornaments.  Being the one who was most hesitant about this bold and almost un-holiday change to eliminate a tree, I have to admit that the Christmas spirit is still present.  The same amount of joy is felt in my heart when I come down the stairs in the morning to a lighted wreath of wonder.  The first light to be plugged in the morning and the last to be unplugged in the evening, it holds memories and hope. Sprinkled here and there are other signs of the holiday, but Christmas isn’t Christmas at Simplicity without the red berries, the Spode dishes, and now the Christmas wreath.


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