Op/Ed

Jessie Raymond: Decorating never goes on vacation

When I joined an online group dedicated to home decorating, I hoped to be inspired by other people’s ideas.
Mostly, I just feel like an outsider.
I’m learning that decorating your home is not the set-it-and-forget-it proposition I thought it was. If you’re doing it right, it’s endless work.
People post photos with captions like, “Here is my Thanksgiving display for the mantle [sic]. Does it look OK (please be nice)?”
Until recently, I had never heard of a “Thanksgiving display.” Now I know it is what you put on your mantle [sic] the day after you take down your Halloween display and the day before you put up your Christmas display.
In this group, seasonal accents fill every room in the house, plus the front porch. And, if you’re passionate enough, the décor — from curtains to area rugs to knick-knacks — changes entirely with every season, as well as for certain holidays within that season.
I assume these people keep tractor-trailers in the backyard, or maybe offsite warehouses, for storage.
Sometimes I’ll log on and see posts that say, “Am I the only one who doesn’t have their Valentine’s Day decorations up yet? I’m so far behind this year!”
My first thoughts: (a) Valentine’s Day decorations? and (b) it’s only Jan. 18; surely there’s still time.
At least in December, I’m digging out the holiday stuff just like everyone else. The difference is that I don’t have a dedicated storage site; just three red-and-green Totes.
And even that sometimes feels like too much.
When I visit the online group the day after Thanksgiving, people are already showing off their Christmas decorating. Some start as early as Nov. 1, posting, “I just couldn’t wait to put up my trees!” — that’s “trees,” plural, as if those of us who limit ourselves to just one lack imagination.
Before long, everyone is posting photos of rooms bursting with faux greenery and fairy lights, with at least one artfully distressed “Ho, Ho, Ho” sign propped up over the Christmas hot cocoa bar.
Confession: I don’t have a hot cocoa bar.
Some people even choose a different theme each year — because “Christmas” has been done to death, I guess. Trending now, for instance, is the black-and-white look, with lots of Buffalo-check plaid.
I see photos of these lovely rooms, with black-and-white tartan print stockings hung from the white mantel, the tree decked out in white lights with silver ornaments and a black plaid ribbon garland, and I’m both impressed and confused.
I like the look. But what do you say to your kids?
“Your many years’ worth of handmade ornaments are nice in their own rudimentary way, Sweetie, but not for the farmhouse chic thing I’ve got going on here. Plus they’re overwhelmingly red and green — a little too on-the-nose, don’t you think?”
Still, I give these people credit. I don’t do much more than put up a tree and hang a garland in the kitchen doorway, and that’s enough. For me, there’s a fine line between decorating for the holidays and being featured on an episode of “Hoarders.”
Too much stuff makes me nervous.
Take, for example, the kind of Christmas kitchen some members of this online group espouse. A mini-wreath hangs on every cupboard door. Over the upper cabinets, lights and wreaths and snowmen and Santas jockey for space. The table is piled high with a centerpiece of poinsettias, birch branches and candles. So many candles.
I mean, how do these people bake cookies with a replica of Santa’s sleigh — and eight reindeer — lined up on the counter all month? Maybe there’s room at the hot cocoa bar?
But it’s not my problem. And that’s why I like the group. I get to enjoy all that Christmas décor without having to work too hard or give up too much space in my own home.
I just have to remember that I’m an outlier.
One time I made the mistake of posting, “As much as I love the holidays, I can’t wait for Dec. 26 when I can take down the Christmas stuff and put things back to normal.”
To my surprise, one commenter wrote, “Agreed.”
Really?
“Before you know it,” she continued, “it’ll be time to put up the Valentine’s Day decorations.”

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