"Cows are my passion. What I have ever sighed for has been to retreat to a farm and live entirely surrounded by cows–and china." Charles Dickens

January 3, 2011

Christmas Comes and Christmas Goes

Is there anyone else who refuses to take down their Christmas decor until at least Twelfth Night, aka The Feast of Epiphany? (Or later if you're just plain lazy about it...hand up!). I like to hold onto the season a bit longer. Perhaps if I actually decorated the house (I mean, doublewide), like I used to do when we owned a house, earlier in the month of December, I would be ready to take everything down now. I have to admit, however, that this year I just didn't want to take anything out. It's not that I'm an old humbug but I just wasn't into it: could it be because Santa has now been elevated to mythic proportions in our household? Or that our daughter has spent the past three holiday seasons 1,100 miles away working at a Vermont resort? Or that we want to simplify in all realms? So much is in boxes or has been disheveled that I just wasn't that into you this year, oh Christmas tree! My kids were the reason I bothered.

Mistletoe: my favorite part of an Appalachian Christmas.
Actually, I am ready to take everything down, but need to make a part of a day to do so, just as I am ready to make a better crack at it next year. But it involves so much of what I do not excel at since moving here: organizational prowess. 75% of our Christmas decor is in storage. We lack attics and cellars to store extra stuff so use up shed space up and down a mile of country ridge. It's crazy, I know.

I LOVE vintage Christmas items: glimmery tinsel (which is hard to re-use, but not if you buy a case of it on sale), old glass balls, village scenes, freaky vintage gnomes, just about everything from any decade preceding the 1970s. [White, gold or silver artificial Christmas trees never did it for me: and we must really blame them for setting the way for the disco era.] I do believe that my love of Christmas decorating invokes great childhood memories, as well as bringing out the German and English in me. I appreciate and savor tradition. I also realize that you strip away the decor and the gifts and you still have the essence of Christmas. I don't get sucked in by the commercialism but honor, in my heart, those Christmases past, and the people in them, by the decor I keep, to loosely paraphrase Dickens.

I am determined to stick with a better holiday-in-advance schedule this year, so I'm writing it down here. Think of it as a 'Crazy Christmas Vision Board.' Santa will be pleased. [Shopping, I should mention, is never the problem. I shop year round so to avoid rushing about in December: always on sale and when I see 'that perfect item' for someone. I also find many things at craft and gift shops and antique malls or bookstores, especially for girlfriends. Yes, I could be a professional shopper!]
  • February: Take out every Christmas item in storage and either put it aside for reboxing, regluing, or a sizable donation later in the year to The Island of Misfit Christmas Decor. Then rebox it properly and label (those giant red storage bins on sale at Walmart right now are just the thing). Place all 100 boxes (well, hopefully not) in cottage attic storage for easy access next year (and yes, I will be decorating the cottage, too, you can bet on that one). NOTE: February is a great time to do this because it's not yet garden season and still with many days of dreary stay-indoors weather. So, a bit of Christmas cheer will be welcome. Also, I do imagine a Christmas pantry in my house of dreams but really, Christmas should be boxed up so it can be better appreciated once a year. 
  • Spring: Think about things to make for next Christmas––maybe start knitting again? It is possible in the air-conditioned days of high summer. Start looking for a church, more intently, to call our own: this is important to us but has taken a back-burner (more on this another time).
  • Summer: Put up extra preserves and other goodies to give at the holidays.
  • October: After decorating for the harvest season, think about Christmas cards (photos?) and what I'd like to bake at the holidays, and when. Or, if I'm going to bake at all (why break that streak? All good intentions...).
  • November: Start wrapping presents to ship and, ideally, box up and wait for early December to mail. Gather other presents for local friends and family to wrap later on. Prepare Christmas card/letter for first week of December. On a balmy day, of which there are many at this time in Kentucky, put up Christmas lights outside in preparation (we keep meaning to do so...).
  • Last weekend of November: Decorate with advent things. Go chop down a Christmas tree! (No more Lowe's or Walmart specials: no, no NO!) Gather greens for doors. Shoot down some mistletoe.
  • First week of December: Ship out gifts to friends and family elsewhere. Start on Christmas cards when ready. Finish decorating.
  • December: Wrap at leisure, bake things with the kids (and solo), enjoy the season with friends and family. Plan minimal, but meaningful, events and gatherings with friends. Drink lots of tea and Bailey's Irish Cream while wrapping or baking. Nap often.
Vintage Christmas linens, aprons and towels are a favorite collectible of mine.

There, that was easy. I feel better already. Did I mention that I still have last year's Christmas cards and photos in a box, intended for a January 2010 mailing? I'm a firm believer in recycling and reusing. Besides, what's a year between friends?

You come back when you're ready!



  1. Well, you have your schedule. All you have to do is stick to it. That's what I cannot do to save my soul. There's nothing like pressure to get me going. I hope you're not the same.


  2. Yes, you can read me like a book. I'm trying not to be an 'under pressure' operative in 2011! <3

  3. Oh! A GREAT List! I haven't even gotten so far as to make the list! (Me and my A.D.D.) I put up the mistletoe you sent last year- it hold a place of honor in the house. (Andrew tries hard to avoid it though!) I didn't get to put out my elves this year- not enough time (me and my A.D.D.) but next year- the little creepy yet oddly cute little guys will be out! I missed them! I will have to start decorating in October though. Maybe I should make a list too! :0)

  4. That's a great schedule!
    I try to buy Christmas cards 1/2 price after Christmas. The first year I did that, I then let them sit in a drawer until a week before Christmas and then was in a frenzy to get them out. How stupid is that? Now I have a better plan. I sign all the cards in September. I address them in October, because by then most people who are going to move and change their address have already done so. And in November, I stamp them all and put the return address labels on. So, in December it's just picture, letter, and stuffing time. Spreading it all out makes it so much easier.
    I hope your plan works well! Sounds great to me!

  5. Kate, I like to hit post-Christmas sales, also: online and in stores. I really like your Christmas card plan! My handwriting is also so bad that I really should space them out anyway so I'm not rushing those envelopes.


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