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Cozy Cottage Christmas Decor + Grieving Loss

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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.

Cozy Cottage Christmas Decor

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.

white cottage home with green metal roof

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.

farm fresh Christmas trees rug

Then we decorated the tree together with Point of Grace music and my Instant Russian Tea. In the evening we enjoyed leftovers while we celebrated the tradition of the blessing jar.

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.

Decorating for Christmas 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.

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.

welcoming sunroom decorated for Christmas

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.

rustic joy sign on front door

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.

Christmas candle wreath on back of chair

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.

cozy cottage with buffalo check table setting

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!

cozy Christmas table decorations with buffalo plaid

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.

joy to the world stamped books

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.

Christmas decorations on wooden shelves

(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!)

Christmas tray with ornaments in a basket

(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!

cozy Christmas cottage in sun room

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.

small home decorated with traditional Christmas treasures

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.

small Christmas village on tabletop

(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!

Merry Christmas throw pillow and red and black plaid throw

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?

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29 Comments

  1. Hello Marty,
    I love your authenticity. I am sorry for your loss. I am divorced too. Was painful but has gotten much better. Sending you hugs! Danielle

  2. Hi, Marty.

    I just wanted to let you know that I pray for you and desire to be an encouragement to you, as well. I absolutely love your recipes and your caring heart for others.

    Thanks for reaching out to all of us during this Christmas season.
    May God continue to bless you and bring you His peace.

  3. Such a beautifully decorated home! And you can do what suits you! Keep the traditions you choose and find new ones that bring you joy. Merry Christmas! And here’s to a 2022 full of new adventures.

  4. Marty, your home looks charming! You are in a hard season (as many are) and my heart goes out to you. I too am in a hard season (a bit different but very hard) and my Christmas spirit is off this year. I am choosing to just go with it and trust God in the process -which is challenging for me at times. ?. Raising a cup of Christmas cheer and praying that 2022 is full of love and hope for the future for us both.

    1. Thank you so much, Prudence. Hard is hard no matter what it is. Thank you for encouraging me in the midst of your own difficulties. Merry Christmas!

  5. Your house is so warm and cozy. I so very sorry this happened to you. I’m amazed at how you are persevering. I cannot tell you how much I admire you And meeting face to face was a highlight to my visit to my my daughter. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

    1. Dawna, you’re such a sweet woman and mama and I’m so delighted we got to meet. When we encourage each other we get to get pushing forward, no matter how hard and ugly that may be! Have the merriest of Christmases, my friend!

  6. It is so beautiful and for such a small place, it feels big! Just shows how decor can impact a home. Merry Christmas!

    1. Thank you, Jasmine!It was so good to see you and have you into my little cottage. I believe this home will be a healing place for many. Merry Christmas!

  7. Your home looks beautiful! I am praying for you during this time, and I would appreciate your prayers as well. I am also going through a difficult season, and I really appreciate your encouragement and inspiration:).

  8. Marty-your continued encouragement for others while you are enduring and growing through a very painful time in your own life is awe inspiring. The last three years have weighed my heart down with some extremely difficult family issues. Unfortunately, my husband of 45 years and I have not been on the same page through it all. But we are persevering and will hopefully get through it with a stronger bond. It has been the support of some very dear friends, such as you offer to so many, that has allowed me to continue forward and to heal. Thank you, friend.

    1. Oh, Gayle. I’m so sorry for your struggles in life and with your husband. It hurts my heart for you because I completely understand. I pray God will change hearts and draw you together and you will receive a crown of glory from our Savior. Thanks very sharing and a very Merry Christmas!

  9. I love your darling cottage and it is just perfectly you. I love how you use what you have and don’t go overboard but keep it simple. Dear Friend, I wish you a most Blessed Christmas and may your heart be filled with joy and peace.

    1. Thanks so much, Karen. This home is definitely me and is such a happy place for me. I appreciate your support and kindness so much. Merry Christmas!

  10. Well done after all you’ve been through.

    Generally here in the UK we don’t change things much seasonally, and at Christmas just get a bag or box of decorations down and add a tree (real or other) plus a few fairy lights

    I decided during Covid lockdown to go through my hoard of tablecloths. A lot of emotions surfaced, but what I did, was iron and display and then take a photo of them, either individually or three together. A few I couldn’t get rid of, one my Dad brought back from Burma for my Mum. That was folded and placed in a ziplock bag, with an old birthday or Christmas card picture, and a note of contents. A few others got this treatment, then I ruthlessly sorted the rest. A whole boxful went to the Charity shops. I checked on my digital photos first, and as long as they were there, I didn’t need the extra tablecloths I’ll never use again!

    Also during lockdown I recycled three wooden chairs, thanks to you and made them funky colours with different coloured legs but all had a 1″distinctive stripe running on one side, of the back and continuing forward on the seat. seat

    Then as they were wood, I made funky bright yellow, orange or turquoise chair pass

    Merry Christmas and a better New Year

    1. Hi, Valeria. Thank you so so much for sharing how I influenced you to let go! One day I’ll share the ruthlessness with which I got rid of/gave away so much of my life of the last 30 years. There’s freedom in less stuff and I hope to be able to share more in the months to come. You are a blessing! Merry Christmas!

  11. I love how you’ve created such a cozy, homey atmosphere for yourself, family and friends to be blessed by! Grieving and adjusting to changes is hard work and takes a lot of energy. Kudos to you for finding the energy to create such a lovely atmosphere!

    Wishing you many blessings in this season as you bless others as well!

    1. Thank you so much, Becky! I’ve concentrated on doing those things that bring joy during this season and it’s been my family and my home! Merry Christmas!

  12. I am sorry for your recent divorce. Its a tough loss and I am very impressed how strong you are and the wonderful things you are doing. I like the holiday season but I am not a believer in giving to many gifts for the holidays. I just want peace and happiness with out them but its hard since many give gift. I try to teach my grand kids the gift of giving to other and we go to neighbors and charities to give gifts.

    1. Hi, Maria. We have such opportunities to influence our grandkids! I know you’re an amazing grandmother full of love and patience. It’s been hard during this season but my family still gives me hope. Many blessings to you!

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