Creating cozy cottage Christmas decor can bring joy. However, for those who have recently suffered a major loss through death or divorce, Christmas decorations can act as reminders of the loss.
As I shared in my last post, my husband and I recently separated. I bought a cozy little cottage where I’m rebuilding my life and learning to live as a single woman after 34 years of marriage.
To be honest, I struggled with whether I wanted to decorate for Christmas or skip the whole ordeal. In my new home, I have to haul an extension ladder into the house in order to access the attic. My youngest son graciously installed flooring up there which allowed me to keep seasonal decor and other items.
Some day I’ll share how I decluttered and literally gave away 1000 square feet of “stuff” in about two months when we put our previous house on the market.
But that’s a story for ‘nother day!
Until then I want to share some questions that might help you decide if you want to decorate for Christmas this year.
Cozy Cottage Christmas Decor
Who are you decorating for?
For many decades Thanksgiving was always the biggest holiday in our family, filled with non-negotiable traditions. Lunch was promptly served at 1 (all our favorite foods!) followed by picking out the Christmas tree at the same lot every year.
Obviously this was the year everything changed.
My children have all left home and begun their own traditions so I decided decorating for Christmas this year was just for me.
I’m so glad we went artificial last year because this year’s Christmas tree has given me so much joy. I set it up in my sunroom and every night I read by the sparkling light of the tree before I go to bed.
I’m a creative person with an eye for beauty and I can’t even begin to express how much joy my Christmas decor has brought. For me, this was the right decision but you may just want to skip it if your heart is broken this year.
Do what feels right for you. This is not the end of the story and what you do this year may not be how you celebrate next year.
Does a specific tradition help or hurt your grieving process?
For years I hosted my area homeschool mom’s group during the holidays. Before that I entertained the church choir I led. More recently it’s been my small group of seven homeschool moms that have been friends for two decades.
The decision to invite others over is completely my own and I worked through whether it just felt like one more to do or whether it gave me something to look forward to.
I thought a lot about it before I messaged and said I’d love to continue this tradition in my new home. My friends graciously accepted and we ended up with a group of five.
My heart literally turned a corner recently as I prepared to host my friends. We might have fellowshipped in a much smaller space but we celebrated our friendship and love. What a gift!
If a tradition doesn’t serve you well in this season find one that does! Search deep inside your heart and see what resonates in your spirit.
Does it bring you joy or cause you anxiety?
This is such a good question! As a home decor/DIY blogger creating a beautiful home is literally part of the job description. Yet I removed the pressure from myself this year and searched my heart for keys to what I truly wanted.
I didn’t want a lot of random stuff that needs dusting or constant arranging. Simplicity is important in my smaller home and I know I benefit emotionally when the “stuff” doesn’t overwhelm me.
(These shelves house some of my cookbooks and organizational supplies. The vintage sewing cabinet is full of things I use all the time! Just because they’re all necessary doesn’t mean it still can’t look cute!)
Here every piece serves a purpose: for storage or beauty. I don’t have extra space for sentimental knick knacks and cute decor.
(My china hutch is filled with both everyday and Christmas china. I don’t have the energy or desire to completely empty it out for each season. A few added seasonal touches and it’s perfect!)
(My grandkids eat off this chest so I needed simple decor that can be removed easily. Inside the chest are all my blankets and throws. Dual purpose!)
This may be hard if you’re still clinging to the past or sentimental memorabilia has a death grip on you. Give yourself permission to let go of sentimental items that cause you grief or anxiety. Or at least keep them packed up for this year and see if they add value to your life and home.
(These vintage ornaments are from my parents and grace a simple glass bowl. Makes me happy every time I see them but doesn’t take up a lot of room!)
This is a biggie for me! Our collection of Christmas ornaments contains many homemade ones from the kids or ones we collected during our 34-year marriage.
I have a small scrapbook filled with pictures of our ornament collection. I knew when I cried just looking at the album that I would need to keep the ornaments stored away this year. Totally a personal decision but one that gave me relief instead of anxiety.
Give yourself grace as you work through each of these questions. What works for me may not be what’s best for you.
Can you decorate in a new way or use different Christmas decorations?
The only money I spent on decor was for a few additional picks for the Christmas tree. Having just downsized from 2000 to 1000 sq. feet I was determined to only use decorations that fit the style of my new home.
My cozy cottage screams “home” from the second I walk in the door. My personality and loves are everywhere. I no longer have to worry about pleasing anyone else so anything goes as far as I’m concerned!
I know many bloggers and influencers totally change their decor from year to year but I don’t have the money or energy for this. Instead, I’ve focused on creating a beautiful home with what I already own.
Create new traditions and find new opportunities to serve others.
When I serve and love others I allow myself to concentrate on relationship while still maintaining my independence in this season.
Living with an “attitude of gratitude” also helps me focus on what and who is important. There is always someone whose life is even more heartbreaking than mine. By only allowing a pity party or two (just being honest!) I continue to work through the hurt I’m feeling.
(You may remember the enormous Christmas village my family enjoyed. I’ve since given it away to a couple of my kids but this year I enjoyed this smaller one. Same sentiment, less stuff!)
Have you always gone to a Christmas Eve service and now it’s just a painful trigger? What if you found a Christmas concert locally and a friend to attend it with you? New tradition. Bam.
Do you always make a certain cookie? Change it up and find a different one! I’m a huge fan of this make ahead cookie mix. You can make two different recipes and they are delish!
Embrace this new season of hard instead of running and burying all the emotions. I know it’s all you can do to put one foot in front of the other and it’s ok. Truly. You are loved.
These are some of the ways I’ve worked through this season of grief and loss. What has worked for you?