‘Tis the season for decorations- At least in this part of the world. As a Minimalist in training, this time of year poses challenges to me as I am torn between enjoying the abundance of decorations, and the need for quiet reflection on the season’s meaning.
Two years ago, when my son was 3, I downsized our holiday. I was in the middle of a divorce and will admit my mind was having a difficult time focusing on the holiday between attorney phone calls and unpleasant texts with my ex-to-be. My sister donated a small, sky blue Disney-themed tree to me- the tree couldn’t have been more than two feet tall or so. I happily took it- a reminder of how I was stripping away the unnecessary in life. I smugly thought I could also use it as a teaching moment to my son. We didn’t need ‘things’ or big flashy Christmas decorations to celebrate- that’s not the meaning of the holiday.
“It’s not big enough”.
That was my toddler’s comment when he looked on the little tree, contempt written all over his tiny face. “Grandma’s tree is bigger. This one is too small. I don’t like it”.
I explained to him what Christmas was about. I explained the gift of baby Jesus to the world. I explained there were many people in this world that had less than us and we should be grateful for what we had. No luck. “It’s not big enough”- Every single time he walked by that tree, that was the comment that humble little tree received to it’s shiny lights and perky color.
Why couldn’t I change his mind? Why couldn’t he see that my way of viewing the world, and the holiday, was the right way to celebrate the season?
Part of the reason is that he was 3 years old. There’s a lot of brain development yet to go. Maybe my intentions were misguided- he was also going thru challenges with the divorce in the household, and to disrupt one more thing wasn’t the best idea. Perhaps I shouldn’t try to ‘force’ my ideas on simplification on anyone.
In any case- that little tree left it’s mark on both of us. Now 5, he still reminds me, “Do you remember that little tree we had for Christmas? It was so tiny”. I will never forget it.
Our new family will gather around a decidedly non-Minimalist, 9 foot tall tree this year, and make more memories. While it towers over us, instead of being frustrated that we aren’t ‘downsizing’, I choose to let it remind me of the woods of Northeast Pennsylvania where I grew up. I will try to take time to focus on the simple side of Christmas, the quiet peace in a church service, the family and friends we will spend time with. The debate on the merits of a Minimalist aesthetic in decorations can wait till after the holidays are over.
My son’s reaction to the tree reaching so far over his head?