Okay, Listen Here

Okay, Listen Here

Monday, December 6, 2010


Christmas makes me crazy. I have seventeen Rubbermaid totes full of stuff that's supposed to make the season jolly. That's not even counting the dishes, candlesticks, and various other paraphernalia stored in cabinets. I do not know how many ornaments I own. If I did, I would be ashamed to tell it.

A couple of days ago I made some spur of the minute plans for The Guy and me to meet two other couples for dinner. I was looking forward to it. That afternoon, I commenced with putting up garland around the double windows in my upstairs sitting room. This entails climbing, stringing lights, and wiring in ornaments. The finished product is beautiful but it is almost as much trouble as putting up a ten foot Christmas tree. This is something I do by myself because I want it like I want it. Though a lot of trouble, it's usually not hard—i.e. the garland usually doesn’t fall three times nor do the anchoring nails fall out. I climbed, I nailed, I cussed. Finally it was almost time for The Guy to come home and I thought, "I cannot go to dinner. I will have to cancel because I HAVE TO GET THIS DONE."

But something stopped me. I throttled back and asked myself what the heck I was doing. I answered myself: I was about to give up something important—time with friends—for something that wasn't—perfectly decorated garland. I realized that I work myself into a frenzy all season long, all the while thinking, "If I can just get it right, I can relax and enjoy everything." But that part never comes. There's always another gift to wrap, another cookie to bake, and—God help—another ornament to hang.

We went to dinner. When we came home, we put A Christmas Story on, and The Guy and I finished the job. I am here to tell you, The Guy is not nearly as interested in symmetry and color balance as I am. Hence, the garland doesn't look exactly like it would have if I had done it alone, but, honestly, it looks just as good. And we had a lovely evening.

This caused me make some rules for myself. I call them the Yule Rules. Right now, I only have a few but I expect to add to them as time goes on.


1. If a string of lights even acts one bit cantankerous, throw it away. Do not fiddle with it for an hour hoping to make it work right. It never will.

2. If an ornament is ugly, throw it out regardless of from whence it came. (Note: ornaments made by precious preschool hands are never ugly and are worth a million times the price of the entire lot of the retired Waterford Songs of Christmas series.)

3. Stay out of the mall and Wal-Mart. If Ace Hardware or a store downtown doesn't have it, I don't need it.

4. Do not search for the perfect ribbon. It doesn't exist and nobody cares.

5. Do not pass on the opportunity to visit with loved ones in order to tape, bake, hang, or hot glue anything. It's not worth it.

6. Order pizza.

Do you have any Yule Rules?


  1. I too have a lot of ornaments and decorations and yards of garland. But this year most of it is still sitting in the basement in boxes. I decided that I couldn't face the prolonged hours of putting the stuff out and then facing taking it down. I put up the tree and decorated the mantle. Nothing else.

    My first Yule Rule, set forth this year, is that I am going to enjoy the Season and not stress about the way the house looks or that I haven't baked those sugar cookies. Life is too short.

  2. That's great rule, Cheryl. I've also decided I'm not opposed to carrying gift bags in my car and stopping on the way to somewhere for a gift. Wait. That might be a little over the top.

  3. I have a door decoration and a tree. That may be it, except for hanging stockings. You may have started something.

  4. Love your rules, Jean. I need to print them and post them several places around my house. As I read your post, I smiled. The Man of the House has informed me that I can't buy more Christmas "stuff" because we have no room in the attic to store even one more item.

  5. OF--I used to think as time marched on people stopped all the craziness because of lack of energy. I'm not so sure anymore. I have plenty of energy. Maybe it's figuring out what's important.

    Beverly--Mine has issued a similar proclamation. Since I have never been in the attic, nor to have any immediate plans to go, I can't argue with him.

  6. Every year I put up less and less ornaments. I did my yearly letter, but it is part of the photo card thanks to Macbook. My yule rule is "time is money." I would rather spend a bit more to save a bit of time than run around shopping for the sale price. I know that is not always possible, but we don't do a big time Christmas and we save for it via a Christmas Club account all year so I use that budget.

    We throw out all the tree lights and start over again every year. We got sick of going out to buy new lights because the strand died in the middle part of the tree.

    The most important part of this season is spending time with our loved ones and the people we call friends.

    Great post.

  7. Christine--It's very liberating, isn't it? I think, "I don't have to do it all." And time is money. I'd rather be writing. My hero is in a bad spot right now--though he doesn't know it--and needs me to get in out.

  8. I violated your rule #1 last week. I had a strand of lights with just one bulb burned out. I replaced that bulb, plugged the strand into the wall socket to test it and it worked. The next day, I wrapped that strand around the patio railing along with garland, plugged it in and... nothing. So I unwrapped the strand of lights and they are now gracing the dumpster.

    I've simplified out of necessity. I simply don't have room for a lot of Christmas paraphernalia, so I only have what's important. I'll be blogging about this on Wednesday, complete with photos of my new tree all decorated and lovely.

    This year I'm trying to remember all the reasons for the season and one of those is good times with good friends.


  9. I don't have to stress out about the Christmas decorations at our house...Hubby does that all by himself. Honestly, the man loves Christmas! I couldn't drag him in a home decorating store any other time of the year, but when Christmas decorations come out, we're there. I do have to tone him down a bit though. He could get really gaudy if allowed to do this by himself. A few years back I had to hide a Christmas Tigger doll that bounced around to some Christmas song. Yeah, it was bad. Right now he's looking for the wood patterns to make a sleigh, Santa and reindeer for the front yard so he can build it during the summer and have it ready for next year. Sooo, if any of you happen to see the patterns anywhere, give me a shout. It would make a good present for him and keep him busy so maybe he won't decide to tear out and rebuild something inside my house!! :-D

  10. Oh Jean, what fabulous rules. I'll definitely have to inact them this year! :)

    As to #1, I did something I would never do the other day. I'm a perfectionist. It is a silent burden I bear. If it isn't done right, I'm positive everyone knows it. Crazy stuff, I'm sure. It certainly makes my life harder. This year, after I put up my banister garland, the same one that gave me problems last year, I found out half of the lights didn't work. Argh! It's simply too much trouble to strand that lighted garland through the rungs of my banister just to have to take it all down and then restring lights and redo, though my gut recalled the Nike symbol, "Just do it!" (Curved slash) Jean, you'll be so proud of me. I didn't do it! I got a new strand of lights and wrapped it over the old, weaving it in and out of the rungs. LOL! And it looks like it's supposed to, I sigh in relief. ;)

    Cheryl and Old Friend, I only have the lighted garland on my banister and stair rail, and wreaths on my windows. That's as far as I've gotten this year. But I've pulled out almost as many rubbermaid cartons as Jean with the stuff that'll finish up my decore.

    Oh, Beverly! My hubby complains every year that we are acquiring too many decorations. But he does like it when I pull out the Christmas dishes. ;)

    Christine, time is money and in this day and age time is a very important commodity. I do like your motto of throwing out the tree lights and buying new ones. I've always tried to salvage the lights every year. But it is hard trying to store them all from year to year without knowing whether or not they'll function properly the next time you need them.

    PM, I've tried ti simplify Christmas but I just adore having all the trimmings out once they are put up. And the stores always have such wonderful displays that I think my decore is sadly lacking. ;)

    Liberation from Christmas responsibilities. Is it possible?

  11. PM--I seldom regret something that makes to the garbage. It makes me feel lighter.

    Sherry--What a guy! Mine wants it to happen. He is just a little reluctant to take the reigns.

    Kathy--So, so proud of you! I don't have any pre lit garland. I imagine like the little girl with the curl--when it is good, it is very very good and when it is bad, well. You know.

  12. Rules...I am sure I have some Christmas rules since I have a lot of rules in all the other parts of my life. Right now the only rule I can think of is the one I made last year...to have the decorations put away by Valentine's Day. :-)

  13. My rules:

    1. It doesn't have to be home-made. (I think if you have a good thought behind it, thats all that counts).
    2. The best gift is time--a cup of tea with a friend means more than any wrapped item.
    3. I must watch Christmas movies with my kids, its not a holiday without them.
    4. Decorations--My tree lists to one side. My mantle looks like a hurricane hit it. Both were decorated by my youngest and I'm keeping it that way. There will come a day, she won't be here to do that.
    My focus is just to relax, a stressed out me, is not what anyone wants and doesn't make for a good Holiday.
    (And Stephanie, I have to find time to take down my decorations by February as well...its hard; it looks so empty when its gone).

  14. Oh, this isn't prelit garland. I had to string the garland with lights to begin with. Now do you see the agony involved? LOL!

    Stephanie, I like that rule! ;)

    Mary, you've got some great rules too. I love the tea with a friend rule. ;)

  15. The best one is staying out of Wal Mart!!!

  16. Oh, that's a really good one, Patricia!