Tidying Up Christmas

Long post warning…

Ok, so Christmas really should have been done as part of the sentimental category. After all, I LOVE Christmas and many of the items we pull out each year have been handed down or gifted to us with love.

But it’s January and when Christmas gets packed up around here, it doesn’t come back out until late November. Since we are just 2/3 of the way through komono it had to be now!

We don’t have a lot of Christmas decor to be perfectly honest. We’ve kept it pretty lean over the years for several reasons including small apartments and ever-changing style preferences.

I was ready to grasp each item and determine what really brought me joy.

I can see why Marie Kondo recommends starting with clothing, books, paper and pretty much everything else because sentimental items can be difficult on so many levels. Christmas, or really any holiday, items hold extra sentimentality.

Thankfully, I’ve been doing this for a few months! Tidying the Christmas items went surprisingly well.

Here are just a few notable mentions:

Christmas cards. I’ve kept most of the Christmas cards we received since my husband and I got married. Yep. That’s 12 years of Christmas cards. Why? Well, because I knew other people did and they held messages from people we loved and surely that is precious, right? Maybe. I found that many of those items sparked no joy. This does not mean that the people who sent them aren’t a source of joy but the family newsletter they sent 6 years ago simply isn’t.

A sticky point for me were cards from older family members like grandparents. I’ve become sentimental about handwriting as loved ones have slipped into eternity. But when I realized that I have birthday cards and actual letters from these people that hold even more joy, into the discard stack the Christmas cards went. (I have some thoughts about this later.)

Decorations as gifts. When my husband and I first got married, we had very little and so for the first two Christmases, much of what we used for decoration were gifts or secondhand. Now, I have no shame in the secondhand game. Far from it! But now as a “grownup” with my own family, I could easily thank those items for being available in a time of need and pass them on.

Saying goodbye to items that spark joy. The KonMari method is easy once you get the hang of it. Keep only what sparks joy. But what if an item sparks joy but it’s not possible to keep it? I hit this wall head on sorting through our Christmas things.

A snow globe my grandmother used to own. A plastic, rinky dink Santa figure that was older than me. These two items created a lot of conflicting emotions for me. I knew I would need to talk about the experience here to hopefully capture what my heart went through.

When I picked the snow globe up, I instantly thought of my MeeMaw, a treasure herself now with Jesus, and how the globe was carefully preserved throughout my childhood. I remembered fighting to keep it when I moved out of the family house 12 years ago. Without fail, the snow globe recalled some of the best memories and so, it brought me intense joy. Yet, it was broken. It’s been broken. I knew that it wasn’t realistic to keep it. It was a broken mess and I’d tried so many ways to keep it in my head.

In the end, I held the ancient box with original styrofoam up to me, the pressure of it against my chest pushing to alleviate the tension my grief caused there too, and I let it go. I thought I would feel guilty. Instead, I could almost picture my MeeMaw, the embodiment of practicality, giving me her tiny little smile and saying, “good, that’s done.”

If that wasn’t enough, the darn plastic Santa was next. This plastic Santa complete with reindeer and sleigh were a family decoration from my earliest memory. Seeing it every year was like reliving a thousand good memories. What’s funny about things like this is that no one else loved it. They all thought it was just a plastic piece of junk but to me, it was Christmas. So I took it with me when I moved out.

But like the snow globe, it was broken. It’s been broken. This year, seeing it in about 7 pieces on my dining room table pained me in a way that you just don’t expect from a plastic Santa. For reasons I’ll share another time, that fractured tangible memory suddenly reminded me of something else that has fractured in our family this year.

Even though my heart felt that zing when I saw it in the box in December, I knew, like the snow globe I needed to let it go. Broken things can be kept unless its brokenness brings a grief that eclipses the joy it sparks. So I held it to me, thanked it for bringing me so much joy for so long and let it go.

Expressing appreciation and discarding go hand-in-hand. I don’t think I could have done the latter without the former.

I’m learning so much about joy, grief, and memories during this process. It’s been so good.

Like with the Christmas cards, I feel like I’ve become a curator of my own joy, carefully weighing not only to see if something sparks joy but to also surround myself with those things that cause the most joy.

Are any of you tidying up from Christmas? What’s been easy? Hard?

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