Have you gotten any of your holiday decorations out yet? The thought occurred to me this week, as I was putting up a third little tree in our gaming room – just who am I decorating for the holidays for? It’s not like we’re going to have guests over for the holidays this year. Heck, we aren’t even having our usual group of D & D players until sometime after the new year. The answer came quickly though: I wasn’t decorating for any guests but rather for us. Even my husband. who humbugs when asked to help, admits that he enjoys the décor after it’s done.
There were a couple of years where we didn’t even bother with a tree – I forget why – and it was just awful in hindsight. With every day being like every other day at home, it was hard to mark the transition of one year to the next. Even with the usual family gatherings, I was still off for months. And this year, we’re probably not doing all the family and friend gatherings, so it is even more important to me to have the decorations up. Perhaps it’s because it marks a major yearly transition period.
Not all of the decorations are out. I messed up my hip the Saturday before Thanksgiving and couldn’t make the walk up our little hill to help my husband find all the boxes, so I’m making do with what he brought down. I think I can survive with only some of my peacock tree ornaments and not a single nativity. We are missing the tiny tree I did for my dad when he was in the nursing home. Hey, though, we’ve got the gaming tree up, which is a first in years! There are lights on the front porch, which we just left up from last year. (Trust me, fairy lights in the summer is a thing!). And I’ll do my Yule altar here in a few days. I hope to try a few of Jason Mankey’s ideas from The Witch’s Altar, written with Laura TEmpest Zakroff (yule log candle holder!) and his newer book, Llewellyn’s Little Book of Yule.
I know it can be hard getting out those holiday decorations and making everything bright and cheerful some years, especially when a loved one has passed on to the other side*, or other personal tragedies have happened, but even then it can be important to make at least a small effort – say putting out some candles in a special place and even lighting them on occasion. Maybe making some paper snowflakes to hang. This year we collectively need that mental boost. Driving past houses with holiday lights never fails to boost my spirits as the days are getting shorter and shorter. (Really, is it just me or does it feel like 10pm when it’s only 6 this year?**) Putting up candles, lights, and the tree in your own home gives you that boost as well.
So, if you celebrate anything during this Yuletide holiday season, make at least a little effort to have your surroundings reflect that. I know saying “a little effort” for some of us really means “huge, monumental effort” depending on your mental health, but you will feel better for it. And if anyone can see your candles or holiday lights through the windows as they go by, so will they. These things help us feel connected within our larger communities. And the best part of it all is that your house doesn’t even need to be cleaned for company either! (Which is good given that my hip is still an issue.)
*I lost my remaining grandmother in March. There have only been TWO other Christmas’s in my entire 50+ years where I wasn’t at her house on Christmas Day. And yes, those two years felt just as weird as the years without a tree up.
**There’s a really interesting article on how we perceive time here on the BBC. I recommend giving it a read.