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December 21, 2014 /

Is Your Tinsel All Tied Up In a Knot?

Yesterday, my husband and I attended a holiday open house hosted by a former co-worker and his wife.  Although they live quite a few miles from our home, it’s an annual event we always look forward to. Now that we are retired, we are especially happy to have the opportunity to catch up with many of the people we used to work with.

Our hosts’ house is always decorated beautifully for the party. We haven’t been to their home at other times of the year so I don’t know what it looks like on other holidays, but it is obvious that Christmas is a BIG deal to them.  My understanding is that they start decorating in late October and are always scrambling up to the last minute to get everything done before their open house.


They have four full-size Christmas trees and several table-top vignettes scattered throughout their home. The room that normally functions as the husband’s office has the largest Dickens’ Village display I have ever seen. The room is also decorated with 20 – 30 golf-themed Santas and elves. One of the three Christmas trees in the living room has an owl-theme. The other two trees are crammed full of beautiful, sparkly ornaments. In a hallway off the living room is a table full of dachshund-themed ornaments (the couple doesn’t have children but they lavish their love on their fur-babies).

Although all of the trees and the table vignettes are impressive, the most eye-catching decorations are the (possibly hundreds?) Santas and elves that line the tops of cabinets, open areas just below the ceiling, fireplace mantel, and bookshelves. Even though it appears that not one more figure could possibly find a spot, every year one or two new ones are added.


As beautiful as the whole effect is (and it really is done quite well), I can’t help but think about the time it takes them to set everything up, keep it all dusted throughout the holidays, take it down in January, then store everything until next October. Although I know it is a labor of love for them – and I enjoy seeing it every year – I am grateful that hyper-decorating isn’t part of our holiday tradition. I like to display some holiday sparkle, but everything we do can be set up in one day, enjoyed for about a month, then taken down and stored in just a few plastic bins.

Several of the people at the party last night are recently retired and more than once the conversation turned to our individual efforts to pare down and off-load stuff. Not all of us have been equally successful but most share the goal of freeing our lives of unneeded things and instead filling them with experiences, friends, and passions.

We each have to find the path that works best for us. Our hosts find their bliss in decorating every inch of their house and sharing their joy of Christmas with others. I, on the other hand, am happy to enjoy their holiday exuberance at the open house, but then come home to our more understated decorations.



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  1. katecrimmins / Dec 21 2014 4:45 pm

    I need their address! I have a bunch of Santas and other decorations I’d love to get rid of! I can’t even imagine how they will pare down when the time comes.

    • / Dec 22 2014 1:43 pm

      I had the same thought (“hmmm, maybe I could just drop off a bag of stuff and run”)! I don’t think they’d want my decorations, though. I Googled the price of the elves they buy (yeah, I’m nosey like that) and found that they retail for $50 – $150 each.

  2. Kathy @ SMART Living / Dec 21 2014 9:49 pm

    Hi Janis! You know that I completely agree with you on this one. I was never over the top with Christmas decorations or any collection like that, but once I started going with a more simple look and feel I almost get claustrophobic when we go to other people’s houses that are crammed full of stuff. While it can be festive at times, it really doesn’t appeal to me much at all. It really shows how much I’ve changed. In another 20 years I will have probably have only one Christmas ornament in the whole house! ~Kathy

    • / Dec 22 2014 1:50 pm

      Yes, every year we put up fewer and fewer decorations and we haven’t had a tree in I don’t know how long. Our block has many fewer houses with outdoor lights than years past. Maybe we are all trying to simplify.

  3. Retired Syd / Dec 22 2014 6:57 pm

    I’m with you. I want to decorate for a few hours and then plant myself with a good book in front of the fireplace while I glance at my handiwork from time to time. (In fact, we just got our tree today and I just finished decorating. A little late this year, yes!)

    Oh, and I second that getting rid of stuff phase. I call it the de-cumulation phase.

    • / Dec 23 2014 8:14 am

      De-cumulation… love it! I just de-cumulated a vintage Christmas tree-shaped dish that had been in my family for quite awhile via eBay. I felt a little disloyal but it wasn’t my style and it will bring joy to someone else. Enjoy your tree and your book!

  4. btg5885 / Dec 23 2014 7:19 am

    Janis, I like your title and concept. As for us, we have our lights all tied up in knots. Thank goodness they are cheap, but some portion of a few of strands will always be out. We are not audacious decorators. so no one is coming by to look at the outside of the house. We frame the door and have two trees inside, with one being a premade one with lights stuck in a nook.

    Like you, I appreciate others’ efforts to go whole hog, but that is not us. Thanks for stopping by my blog and please do come again and share your pearls of wisdom. I could always use a few.

    Happy holidays, BTG

    • / Dec 23 2014 8:17 am

      Thank you for stopping by and the follow! Your decorations sound warm and understated… just as I like them!

      As far as my pearls of wisdom, I’m always happy to share them (such as they are).

      Have a great holiday!

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