Living alone has caused me to rethink how I prepare for the coming Christmas holiday.

Even the most basic things — how to decorate or even whether to decorate at all, are decisions I must consider.

For Angela and me, Christmas was always the most celebrated holiday. We decorated the house from stem to stern, hosted at least one holiday gathering, prepared lavish meals for Christmas Eve and day and made the entire holiday season festive.

I was the one who did the decorating, both outside and in. We never did the Christmas wonderland, over-the-top with lights outside, but we always had the house decorated to look like a Christmas card with wreaths at every window, all 12 of them.

We always had a fresh tree that was, in our opinion, perfectly shaped, and when our children were young, we usually waited until after Matt’s December birthday to put it up so as not to spoil his celebration.

We just loved the spirit and the holiday traditions.

Now, I think about the holiday approaching and I think of it all in terms of the past. Why would I bother to decorate the house when I’m the only one who will see it, I ask? Perhaps just the tiniest bit of Christmas spirit will be enough to commemorate the holiday season. Last year at one of my visits to Sarah’s Cupboard, Alice, the volunteer clerk convinced me to purchase a tiny tree that was for sale.

“You should have a tree”, she declared, and so I took it home. I put it up but didn’t bother to light it regularly; it seemed unnecessary.

I was really pleased, in the weeks before my move, that my sons had already decided which of our vintage Christmas decorations they wanted — items that sparked their childhood memories of Christmas at home. It gives me a wonderful sense of family continuity to know that some of the ornaments that adorned our home will now adorn theirs. Still, there were many boxes of decorations that went to the local thrift shops for others to enjoy.

So this all begs the question — why decorate? Are the decorations only for others to see or do we decorate for our own pleasure and to acknowledge the holiday season? I’m still trying to figure that out.

Living in a planned community has eliminated any dilemma I might have had as to how to decorate outside my home. Keep it simple and tasteful, are the rules to follow, and that seems just about right to me. I did take the small tree with me and it stands ready in the basement, waiting for an opportunity to shine a little holiday light from a table in the living room. I’m not sure yet what I’ll do.

As for the gift giving, something that was embedded into our holiday celebration — it all requires making purchases. Once again, Angela excelled at that task, figuring out what to buy, and then wrapping everything up in pretty packages.

I’m really challenged by that task, so I now rely on Amazon purchases, made from wish lists provided to me by my family; I just order and they get delivered. The only unknown for them is not knowing what items I purchased from the list. Perhaps it’s a sign of the times, online purchasing and delivery to the recipient. It’s not quite the same as going to a store and actually looking at the item before you purchase it, but it does make everything easier for long distance gift giving.

I’m still figuring things out; the tree will be the sign of where I’m headed this holiday season.

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