Downsizing Christmas

The family has gone home, the house is quiet and the the dishwasher is humming along for the 4th time. Another wonderful Christmas has been put to bed. This was my 5th Christmas since becoming a widow, and I am slowly becoming used to doing it alone.

I have kept everything the same, as much as possible, for the kids and grandkids; all the family traditions we loved when Grandpa was alive. I have to admit that it is getting harder, not just financially, but also physically, and I’m thinking more and more about how to downsize Christmas.

For my whole married life I have nearly killed myself starting the day after Thanksgiving making gifts and wrapping them, shopping for everyone and his dog, making and filling stockings, baking, entertaining, decorating the house inside and out and every other thing I could think of to make Christmas “merry.” But why??  By the time Christmas arrived, I was exhausted, and never ready. Time to reevaluate.  

Downsizing Christmas is a gradual process.  This is how I started:

Before Jim died, we reluctantly bought an artificial tree. We fought it for a long time, but when it was no longer fun for us to buy a fresh tree, due to Jim’s illness, buying an artificial one was the practical solution.  

It is a gorgeous, lifelike tree! Guests have been known to touch it to see if it is real. I am so happy that I have it, and can’t imagine dealing with a real tree by myself.  For the last 4 years I have lugged the boxes of tree ornaments out of the attic, down the drop-down ladder, and decorated the tree.  And then, back up.  

This year I left my tree unadorned and it was still lovely.  It is so covered with those pretty little white lights, it doesn’t need anything more, in my opinion.  To my surprise, I liked it and I was so much more relaxed. 

I also decided that not every surface needed to have Christmas on it!  I brought down only a few favorite decorations.  Next year maybe I’ll rotate them for others.  The Santa collection didn’t make an appearance at all!  Except for my Beach Santa.

So this was the start of my downsizing Christmas.  I have offered the tree ornaments to my children who have politely declined, so I will have to figure out how to somehow pass them along to others.  I could try these possibilities:

  • eBay, Craigslist, Facebook marketplace:  I imagine there are many baby boomers just like me trying to rid themselves of these things as well, so who knows.  
  • donate:  Goodwill etc., Facebook marketplace free

In either case, I think the smart thing would be for me to place the ads next fall when people are looking for them again.  If I remember…

This year my granddaughter addressed all my Christmas cards. And wrapped most of my gifts.  Thank God for her.  Accepting help is new for me and I now gratefully accept!

I swear to have a serious talk with myself next year about how much cooking and baking to do.  I always do too much and have so much leftover.  Wasted expense, energy and time!

The most difficult thing for me to downsize is the amount of my gift-giving.  I know I will have to do it, but it is so hard for me.  Watching a grandchild open a gift which then brings a squeal of delight, oh my goodness, I live for that!

Emma opening her Dr. Martens.  They are in style again!

This year, the Covid epidemic forced me to simplify Christmas somewhat.  We were very limited in the size of our Christmas celebration, so we had just the immediate family as we did for Thanksgiving.  That got me thinking about the holiday parties we usually have.  Maybe, in the spirit of simplifying our lives, we don’t need so many of them.  Being with family is what is important.  

Are you ready to downsize Christmas?  In summary, this is what I did:

  • I bought an artificial tree
  • I left the tree undecorated
  • I limited the decorations I brought down from the attic to a few
  • I accepted help!
  • I vowed to not overdo baking and cooking next year
  • I am seriously thinking about cutting down on gift-giving.  We’ll see.

To me, the best thing about Christmas is spending it with my family.  And in my family, our get-together isn’t usually on Christmas.  No matter.  I hope you all enjoyed yours as much as I did mine!  If you enjoyed this post, please let me know!

Happy New Year!

8 thoughts on “Downsizing Christmas”

  1. Enjoyed reading your blog! As we decided this was not the year to have our usual family gathering, as it was only going to be 3 of us, we cut back also! We didn’t put up our Christmas tree, and I didn’t take out any of my Steinbach German nutcrackers. I did decorate the house, albeit differently! Next year, I will go back to decorating in full, as my whole family, 18 of us, will be here to celebrate!

  2. Enjoyed reading your blog Ellie. I too downsized. I was depressed (missing my daughter and 3 grandkids in TX, my sister in AZ and my BFF in MA) and wasn’t going to do anything and I usually decorate the entire house with a real tree and all. And the cookie BAKING. I started a tradition in 2001 when I was having radiation treatment here in Maui for breast cancer. I made 300 cookies and took them to the cancer center. (My oncologist always made my appointment the week of Christmas, knowing I would be bringing cookies‼️). It grew year after year, adding all my Maui friends, making close to 1,000 cookies with 12-14 varieties. This year I bought an artificial tree and cut my cookie baking down. Now I’m just grateful my family and friends are healthy and safe and know I will get to see them when it is safe.
    Wishing you a Happy, Healthy, Safe New Year‼️🎊🥂

    • Happy New Year Lynda! I am amazed and impressed with your kindness and generosity! That’s a lot of cookies! It has been a tough year for us, but let’s hope for a better 2021, one that allows us to see our loved ones. Stay well!


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