Deck the Halls… or Not

Christmas fireplace

No, this isn’t my house! My tree is still in the box, my ornaments are a jumble of colors, shapes, and themes, and the gifts I give are never this artfully wrapped and arranged. But it’s a pretty picture.

This week one of our foxes asked, “How early do you start shopping/decorating for the holidays?”

I’ve never been one to spend much time decorating our house. I suppose it’s because I probably spend less time in my home than I should. Between my teaching schedule, my music rehearsals, other hobbies, and family needs, I’m usually more worried about whether or not guests have a clear place to sit than what’s adorning the walls. I guess paid a little more attention to it when I started using social media to promote my writing, but other than Christmas time the house looks the same for most of the year. Still, there have been times when I’m putting up our tree and other decorations on the morning of our family party.

As for gifts, I guess I don’t really stress much about that either. I suppose that’s because we really don’t have what most people would call a large family. We have five kids, nine grandkids, and two great-granddaughters. Between hubby and me, we have three brothers, six nieces, and one living parent. We don’t exchange gifts with everyone, and that’s fine with me. On my family’s side, we play a game in which we as a family bring one gift to exchange. If our family gathering is at someone else’s home, I’ll take a hostess gift. Since I’m always sewing and crafting, I can usually wrap up something I’ve made, like a set of greeting cards, a set of coasters, napkins, or a small quilt.

Thirty years ago, I did a lot of shopping and wrapping, but most of the time I’d do most of it in one marathon shopping session after my school vacation started. But now that most of the grandkids are legal adults, their needs have changed. Of the nine grandkids, only two are at the age where they want to open gifts. Now, I purchase and wrap gifts for the two elementary aged grandkids as well as two great-granddaughters. I’ll often start asking for gift ideas in November, although I’ve already picked up one or two small stocking-stuffer items. The seven older grandkids have repeatedly said that they prefer gift cards. So I’ll text them all in late November and ask for their favorite stores.

Shopping for our adult children (they range in age from 32 to 50) is easy. We play a game that involves a gift exchange. On my side I pick a letter, and everyone brings a $10 to $15 gift that begins with that letter. Last year, the letter was B, and people brought bonbons, beaded necklaces, a Battleship game, a six-pack of Budweiser, and gift cards for businesses that started with a B. Since I only needed two gifts (one for me and one for my husband), this was easily done while taking care of other errands.

I suppose it seems odd that while Christmas is my favorite holiday, decorating and gift-purchasing aren’t high on my list of priorities. For me, it’s about spending time with people, listening to and performing music. I read many of the holiday books that my fellow authors write, and I try to complete a holiday story each year. I do appreciate a well-appointed home, but not enough to spend time making MY house worthy of a magazine spread. And I enjoy giving gifts, but they’re more of a token of appreciation for being part of my life.

How important do you consider holiday decorations and gifts?




About Patricia Kiyono

During her first career, Patricia Kiyono taught elementary music, computer classes, elementary classrooms, and junior high social studies. She now teaches music education at the university level. She lives in southwest Michigan with her husband, not far from her five children, nine grandchildren (so far), and great-granddaughters. Current interests, aside from writing, include sewing, crocheting, scrapbooking, and music. A love of travel and an interest in faraway people inspires her to create stories about different cultures. Check out her sweet historical contemporary romances at her Amazon author page:
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12 Responses to Deck the Halls… or Not

  1. Jeff Salter says:

    Actually, your family DOES sound large, compared to mine.
    I like your idea of the single gift that goes into the pile (basically) and everybody leaves with one gift. That’s a good, inexpensive solution to what otherwise could be stressful and costly.
    Not sure I’d want to be in your family the year you select gifts beginning with the letter “Z” or “Y”, however.
    More, on Hound Day… if I can think of anything.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Patricia Kiyono says:

      The kids have gotten pretty creative with the letters. Plus, there are actually websites that list gift idea for each letter of the alphabet. I actually resisted doing a gift exchange for a long time, because I grew up with so few relatives that we could celebrate with, but now that we’re into the third and fourth generations, I’m grateful to have fewer things to worry about.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve always followed the tradition my mom started of decorating and putting up our tree the day after Thanksgiving. Of course, now that we’re older and slower, it takes a couple weeks to get everything done.

    The tree doesn’t come down until two weeks after Christmas. Now keeping the tree healthy took a lot of work on our part when we had a live one. Lots of care that the tree stayed hydrated, and still it was pretty dry by the time we took it down (no lights turned on at that point).

    As for the shopping, I’ve always done that year round. Whenever I see something I think would make a good gift for someone, I bought it. It then went into my secret stash hideaway. 🙂

    I love Christmas too.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Patricia Kiyono says:

      I used to start things going the day after Thanksgiving. The last several years I’ve been bogged down with term papers, so the only thing I managed to do was to catch a cold (probably because I wasn’t getting enough sleep). And as you say, the older we get, the more time everything takes! Thanks for stopping in.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The family’s and especially the children’s needs have changed here, too. The time y u spend together and the fun that you have at gatherings is much more important than fancy-wrapped boxes. It all sounds wonderful.


    • Patricia Kiyono says:

      I think I’ve enjoyed the holiday a lot more since I started letting go of a few ”traditions”. I pay someone else to clean, my hubby and kids take care of all the food, and I buy gifts for the gift exchanges and the little ones. Boom!


  4. Your family sounds like a large one. This is our first year doing a secret Santa type gift exchange, with the family size having doubled due to my one brother getting engaged to a woman with kids and my other brother and his family moving back to the States we thought it would be less stressful to draw names and each buy one gift for that person. I like your idea of doing it with a certain letter! That’s so clever and could be a lot of fun.


    • Patricia Kiyono says:

      We have a lot of kids, grandkids, and greats, but we don’t really have much of an extended family. Secret Santas can be fun, too.


  5. Elaine Cantrell says:

    Your family is really large compared to mine. You’re right about what’s really important about Christmas. It’s spending time with the ones you love.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Patricia Kiyono says:

      I did spend a little time fretting because I didn’t have the time to decorate and shop like I thought I should. But then I realized I enjoyed the time just as much as I had when everything was in place, so I stopped stressing.


  6. trishafaye says:

    I loved your idea about how you choose a letter and the gifts are brought according to the letter. Great idea!

    Liked by 1 person

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