Saturday, December 14, 2013

Holiday decorating

No matter how busy I am, I always find time to decorate for the holidays. Getting a tree and sprucing up the apartment in December is one of my favorite annual traditions. I've always wished that the holidays happened later in the winter since there will be a dismal stretch of ~4 more months of cold, wind, and snow after we ring in the New Year, but the reality is that the darkest day of the year does occur in December (though in New England, it's February that feels interminable). When I was growing up, my family celebrated both solstice and Christmas. The winter solstice is the shortest day of the year, and our tradition was to avoid using electricity for the day. The goal was to remind ourselves of what the darkness and cold really feel like, and what a celebration of the returning of the light truly means. A lot of holiday decoration traditions -- putting up lights, bringing greenery into the home, the yule log -- are based on this original idea of trying to find lightness and warmth in the depths of the cold and darkness. When I think about why I love the holidays, this is why -- if I can ignore the incessant Christmas music in the mall and the endless consumerism, I can focus on the things that bring me joy: the lights on trees, the candles in windows, the togetherness of family. It's a reminder that as low as we might feel there is light in this darkness, and that one day spring will come again.

Anyway, enough of the spiritual pontification, and onto the DIY ramifications :) We have a small space so I try not to go too overboard with decorations, but here's what I ended up with this year:

A medium-sized tree in the corner of the living room, plus lights behind the sheer curtains to add some extra sparkle: (pardon the dim lighting, but I took it at night so the Christmas lights are visible)

A Christmas mantle:

This is the first year I've had a garland of any sort. Initially I decorated without it, but I felt like the mantle was too sparse and the green wreath (also a first) felt out of place. So I grabbed some boxwood sprigs when we were at Home Depot picking up our tree, and I love what they add.

A Christmas-y vignette on the dresser in the study:

Something small next to the TV stand:

And a wreath on the front door:

This is a plain wreath from Michael's (for $5.99) -- I added some cloth flowers and then used a gold ribbon to hang it over the door.

It's nothing dramatic, but it certainly makes things feel cozier as the temperature outside plummets and the sun sets before 4:30pm (yesterday it set at 4:11pm...). Stay warm everyone!