Decking the Halls MY Way

I am on a journey of reclaiming Christmas.

We’ve already talked about my rough history with Christmas here and I’m putting my foot down. I don’t want to hate this holiday. I may never be the next Buddy the Elf but I don’t want to dread this season anymore. I don’t want it to cause me pain anymore! I want to take hold of this unavoidable part of the year and figure out how I can find my own way of enjoying it!

So that’s what I’m doing! And now that I’m on my own, I have a lot of freedom to feel it out this year. I’m excited to reclaim Christmas and a little nervous about it as well.

I’m excited to have the opportunity to explore what feels right to me and what doesn’t. So far I’ve realized that I like a little bit of decoration… but not too much. Being the creative person that I am, it’s a fun little exercise to make my mantle twinkle in Christmas glory. But clutter gives me anxiety and filling up every little corner of my home makes me feel like I’m surrounded by stuff... it feels to me like well thought out and meticulously arranged litter. Garland over the doorway with a cute little ball of mistletoe? I’m in. Flocked trees and useless firewood arranged in a rustic metal pail surrounded by cotton to look like snow? Adorable on someone else’s Instagram feed. Not happening in my house.

I’ve decided that I really like lights. This is the time of year when the sun starts setting unacceptably early and filling my house with pretty, twinkly, lights makes me feel really stinkin’ happy. My electric bill won’t be fun this month but it’s all in the name of self-discovery!

Also, I got myself a fake tree this year! My ex is team real tree until his dying days so that’s what we always did… but he ain’t a factor anymore. I decided that paying a stupid amount of money for a tree that will die within weeks just to lug it into my house and vacuum needles for a whole month is decidedly not fun for me. So I went with a pre-lit, artificial tree and I’m very happy about my choices.

And finally, the big one. Ornaments… *deep breath*. What do I do about decorating the tree? I know my ornaments are going to bring up a lot of really big and hard feelings. Feelings that are worth feeling and important to process! But I’m not going to wallow in them. And decorating my tree with these ornaments… seeing them every day, all month long, does not feel like it will do good things for my mental health. So I’m not using them. They have stayed in my attic and will not come down this year.

So what do I do? Eventually, once more healing has taken place, I will go through these ornaments and decide which ones I actually like and can sever the emotional tie to the person that gave them to me. But not this year. So do I buy new ornaments? Sounds expensive… Nope. I’m making my tree decorations this year!

I dehydrated oranges, strung up cranberries and popcorn kernels and used a big red ribbon to top my tree with a bright, happy bow. It’s all DIY, baby. And I’ll admit, as of today, it’s still a little sparse, but this tree is a work in progress. It’s my blank Christmas canvas and I’m still thinking through more ways to make it happy for me. I’m enjoying the creative challenge and the results, so far, have been so quirky and goofy that I laugh every time I look at it.

This is joy. My Christmas tree is bringing me actual joy. It is no gorgeous, Instagram-worthy tree but, my goodness, it makes me smile. I love it. And in trying to figure out how to decorate my tree, I have accidentally created my first Christmas tradition for myself that I intend to carry with me through the years: a glass of wine and pop Christmas music while making little cranberry garlands. Adorable, right?

Moral of the story: I’m getting there guys. I’m figuring it out and I honestly think I’m getting somewhere. One day at a time, one homemade garland at a time, I am starting to reclaim Christmas.

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