Christmas is over and I am so glad. I love Christmas, really, I do. I love the lights, the carols, the cookie baking, putting up my village– heck, I even enjoy the mad dash to find the perfect gift for everyone on my list. But it’s exhausting! There are just not enough hours in the days leading up to the big event.
What I really enjoy is the time after December 25th when I can take a breath and actually enjoy the beautiful tree full of history told by the decorations on it– a rocking chair marking my son’s first Christmas, the Styrofoam ball and felt angel I made in kindergarten, the tiny red mitten ornaments my grandmother knitted, even some Santa ornaments that were on the tree when my mom was a little girl.
I’m so busy in the days leading up to Christmas. Between putting up the outside lights, buying and decorating the tree, baking cookies, and shopping for the perfect gifts and stocking stuffers, I barely have time to stop for a cup of coffee to refuel. Every year I ask myself: Why do I do it all? What is the point? Would the sky fall if I didn’t have outside lights this year? Would anyone (besides me) care if I put up an artificial tree instead of a real one? Do I really need a three-level Snow Village with skating rink and ski area?
And then I realize, well, yes, my family would definitely notice if I decided to go on a Christmas strike. They would wonder why the house wasn’t as festive as it usually is at this time of year. But I’m not sure this would spur them to actually help with the decorating. They are more like theater-goers, who love the show and really appreciate the artistry of the actors, but wouldn’t dream of actually participating in the performance. And I’ve really tried to curb my need to control every aspect of the decorating so their fear of putting something in the wrong place doesn’t keep them from contributing. This year I even let our daughter put some of the fragile heirloom ornaments on the tree, although I did freak out a bit when she tried to move the angel I made from where I had lovingly put it to another spot lower down on the tree. Note to self: Consider applying “Let It Go” lessons to Christmas decorating tasks!
Bottom line: I decorate for me. I love it all and it’s worth the time and energy I put into it. And now it’s the lull between Christmas and New Year’s, and I can make a cup of tea, sit by the fire, listen to the Pentatonix sing “That’s Christmas to Me,” and admire my decorating handiwork. As I listen to the gorgeous harmonies, I also reflect on the year that is coming to a close. I think about all the accomplishments and yes, also those things that didn’t quite measure up. There was a lot of “life” for our family in the year 2014. Death and illness have a way of forcing us to consider our priorities, and how we spend our time.
This reflection time leads to goal-setting for 2015, in other words New Year’s Resolutions. Resolutions have their origin in religious rituals. The ancient Romans began their year by making promises to the god, Janus – sound familiar? That’s where the name for the first month of the year, January, is derived. It seems natural to start a fresh new year with a fresh set of goals and plans for improving our lives.
But abandoned New Year’s Resolutions are a hackneyed cliché, and I really want to make some positive changes in my life this year. So I’m going to follow the advice of social scientists, who say that changing our environment can change our behavior more easily than trying to use willpower alone. For example, use salad plates instead of dinner plates and you will eat less food. That sounds ridiculous– won’t I just take more helpings? But the answer is no, you really will eat less if you use smaller serving utensils and smaller plates. So if you want to lose weight, use a smaller plate.
One of my goals for 2015 is to be more organized in my office. The “small plate” environmental aid to achieve this goal is two-fold: Get rid of extra stuff (less stuff, less to organize) and have an easy-access place to store everything that’s essential. So I’ve already started clearing my office of old files, books, samples, and memorabilia that I just don’t need anymore.
Another goal is to spend more time playing with my daughter. I haven’t figured out the way to make this happen yet. There always seems to be something that needs doing: work, laundry, cooking dinner, doctor appointments, helping my parents. Should I schedule playtime into my calendar? Maybe the environmental solution is to put a bouncy house in the living room (just kidding!). Seriously, I’m open to suggestions.
Meanwhile, I am going to put on my pajamas, sit by the fire, and enjoy the relaxed pace and the holiday lights and decorations for a few more days.
Liz Smith has worked across the globe for many of the world’s major apparel brands, including Victoria’s Secret, Chico’s, Justice, and Hanes. She has earned thousands of airline points and worn out several suitcases visiting factories in more than 20 countries to ensure that production is of the highest standard. Liz has managed all aspects of garment production, from design through fabric development to sewing and merchandising– so she knows what it takes to make high-quality apparel. Liz is thrilled to share her knowledge about clothes to help discerning customers choose the finest products. Learn more about Liz by reading her personal blog.