Keep Christmas Simple

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Cathy Best

Cathy Best

By Cathy Best, Columnist

There’s a seismic shift going on in me pertaining to decorating for Christmas. Keep it simple, very simple.

In years past I cut enough greenery to decorate my house and Martha Stewart’s, made our door wreath, decorated the tree, we cut as a family, and lovingly placed decorations throughout the house. But now we live in two places.

Which household gets the tree and Christmas décor? Both, we don’t want either home to lack the Christmas spirit.

Our first year in the little Wisconsin house, Richard and I cut a tree that would make Charlie Brown proud. I found a vintage Christmas tree stand with three light bulbs in the base that up-lit the tree and we strung several strands of colored lights around its floppy branches.

We topped the tree with a handmade star, bought a pretty multi-evergreen wreath, adorned it with a red bow, hung it on the front door, and placed candles in the windows. Decorating done. Richard and I loved the simple unadorned tree and ease in which it all came together.

This year,as we decorated for our third Christmas in the Midwest, we added one item to our Wisconsin tradition: a Nativity scene.

Back home in Madison the tree is cut, in the stand, and lit; our traditional star adorns the top. A store-bought evergreen wreath hangs on the front door, red bow and all. A large, warmly lit, nativity scene sits atop the bookcase.

In the garage are three large Rubbermaid containers, brought down from the attic, filled with ornaments and Christmas decorations

. Here’s the seismic shift: I love the simple unadorned tree, the welcoming wreath and nativity scene that’s part of our life in Wisconsin.

Part of me wants to leave the filled boxes in our Madison garage; there is something about stripping it down and de-cluttering the season that feels right. I’m not sure if our family will miss the ornaments, that have had a place on our tree for so many years, or the lifetime of decorations scattered around the house.

There’s no denying this simple approach keeps the focus on a night long ago in Bethlehem. But can we do it? Can we strip down our traditional tree, with all its memories, and leave the house bare of longstanding decorations? I’m not taking the containers back up to the attic until I figure out if keeping it simple means not breaking with tradition.

Maybe it’s a little of both. Maybe it’s as simple as: a tree full of memories, a wreath on the door to welcome the newborn king, and a softly lit scene that reminds us why we celebrate Christmas. Share your discoveries with Cathy:

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