Family, Journal

If You Need Permission Not to Decorate this Season

My husband and I disagree about Christmas decorations. He doesn’t like to put up a tree because it thinks it looks like clutter. Now, ladies, I’m sure you are chuckling, but for those who don’t live with a coach I’ll let you in on why this is an ironic statement. You see, all fall my laundry room is filled with parts of team uniforms and my dining room table has a stack of sheet protectors and a laminator on it, but a Christmas tree is considered clutter. 

Every winter I wrestle with whether to decorate our home for Christmas. If Coach and I agreed that Christmas decorations were clutter or a necessary part of the holidays I’d spend less time trying to decide. Instead, I find myself weighing factors each year.

We never spend the holiday at our house, and many years we’ve visited family for close to two weeks. Plus, when the boys were little there was the daily battle of keeping them away from the tempting twinkling lights. We’re always exhausted after the football season, and then of course, after traveling and spending time with extended family, to come home and clean up decorations feels like an extra, unnecessary chore. But on the other hand, it’s Christmas! Shouldn’t we put up the tree, pull out the Nativity Set?

But there is another reason I’ve hesitated to decorate. There were years where I wasn’t sure whether we’d be packing our house to move in December and it seemed like a lot of extra work to pull out boxes that were already packed! And that is what sets many coaching families apart from those with more traditional jobs.

The holidays don’t bring a break to spend with family. They bring recruiting season, job hunting season and tournament time. Football coaches are learning whether they will have their jobs for another year. Basketball and wrestling coaches are coaching their teams through full weekends of multiple games. As winter weather settles in and gray skies cover our homes there are often cloudy days under our roofs as we wait to learn what next year will bring.

And this is where the decision to decorate or not to decorate becomes a little more personal than I’d like to admit. While I do prefer a decorated home, some years I’ve found I just can’t deal with one more thing. So, I give myself permission to say no to decorating.

One year I hung a wreath with lights and put up our stockings. Another year I bought a tiny tree and let our kids decorate it in their room. One particularly crazy season our decorations were Christmas candies and Santa hats worn while opening the stack of Amazon boxes I didn’t get around to actually wrapping.

What I’ve learned is that decorating for Christmas is something we should not allow ourselves to participate in because of peer pressure. So, I hereby give you permission to not decorate this Christmas. If your time is better spent sending resumes, packing boxes, or cheering on your team at another tournament, that makes sense!

On the other hand, if you find that Christmas decorations bring you joy then do it! Do it all. Do the baking and the cards and all the holiday things that make the holidays joyful for you and your household.

Whether your house is decorated you will still have Christmas. You will have the few days where recruiting pauses, the schools are closed even for tournaments, and life pauses. So, do what will allow you to be fully present when those precious days arrive.

If you are like me and the drive home from family is filled with dread at the thought of cleaning up decorations, then skip it. If you find that the holidays aren’t complete without a tree and mistletoe then go all out. But, either way, remember, when you reflect on holidays past it’s less likely you will remember what your house looked like. Rather, you will remember what you did and who you were with, because ultimately, that is what is important.

So, as you enter the holiday season take time to rest and enjoy your family. If that means the tree doesn’t make it out of storage that’s fine, it’s just one more way the coaching life is unique.