Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I’m in a rush to kick fall out of my home and turn it into a postcard worthy celebration of “The most wonderful time of the year.” The weekend after Thanksgiving is when this transformation occurs.

Outside lights and winter-wonderland fairy gardens greet visitors. A metal Moravian Star lights the porch and the welcome bear (a wood carving) wears his jolly Santa hat.

Inside, we have a wide assortment of candles, garland, Swedish gnomes, lit-up houses (twenty-five plus), tablecloths, bathroom towels, holiday dishes, and a beautify nativity scene given to me by my brother and his wife long before either of us had children. I treasure the nativity mostly because he painted it (beautifully done) and said he would never make another one. I have the only TLR original in the world. Santa or elf hats (some made by my daughter) are placed on anything in my house with a head, including, pets, statues, and even the gargoyles and dragons I received as gifts in support of my fantasy novels. The most impressive display is a sixty plus nutcracker collection, started when we lived in Italy. All sizes and shapes are spread throughout the house.

The trees are the last thing to be decorated. There is a four-foot-tall candy tree (fake candy) in the sunroom and a 9-foot-tall tree in the family room full of ornaments that bring back memories of Christmas past. The large tree wears mementos of other places we’ve lived, and creations proudly created by our children, as well as treasured decorations. When the kids were little, I made hot chocolate and a snack while the hubs and the kids decorated. It was better if I wasn’t in the room when they handled the delicate ornaments. Now I join in the decorating.

Presents are wrapped and placed under the big tree. I am usually done with Christmas shopping before the end of October for two reasons: (1) I hate shopping anytime of the year; (2) I don’t do crowds. There is nothing enjoyable to me about rushing through the mall (or online for that matter) looking for gifts. I plan in advance and get it done. I have one friend out west who I always buy for early in the year. Every year it gets buried under other gifts and I forget to mail the package. Her present is always late. Even us organized people have our little quirks.

Once the decorations are complete, my thoughts turn to plans and menus. ’Tis the season to meet up with friends and family while eating fattening food. Church services take on a special meaning as various pageants are presented. Children singing or speaking their parts remind us of what’s truly important. 

New Year’s Day is my choice for taking down holiday decorations. The house returns to normal and we settle in for another year. The outside lights come down the first nice day in January, because I’m not so tied to my schedule that I’m willing to freeze just to get them down.

I love the stability of January, and the return to my normal schedule – and I love schedules. In January, I’m back on track for my favorite tasks: writing and hiking.