This past weekend, we put Christmas away: we took down the lights, packed away the ornaments, set the tree out by the road, and swept up hundreds of pine needles. We love Christmas, with the shiny glass balls and twinkling lights, the sounds of a crackling fire and carols filling the room. December is so full with it all. There are parties and celebrations, gifts bought and wrapped, given and unwrapped. There are DIY projects with Christmas Eve deadlines. There are cookies to be baked and trees to be trimmed and halls to be decked. It’s family and friends and fullness of joy.
I saw a comic strip the other day depicting the two stages of winter. The first panel said, “December: A Magical Wonderland of Lights.” The second panel said, “January-Spring: A Cold, Gray Bucket of Suck.” I laughed because it pretty accurately described many people’s feelings. Everyone wants a white Christmas, and then January comes and people are begging for spring.
This year, after putting away the Christmas decorations, I couldn’t help but think of January as a time for making space. Quite literally, we took down the Christmas tree that took up an entire corner of our living room, took our little lighted Alpine village down from the mantle, removed candles and bows and holiday decorations from the hutch and tables and shelves. I love Christmas decorations, and I put a lot out around the house to make the season feel full and festive, and it did. This holiday season, more than some, felt full. So even though I love all the red, shiny baubles hanging around the house, putting it all away this year felt like a deep breath. It felt like cleaning up and clearing out, decluttering and simplifying, making space.
I have a busy winter and spring coming. Things are changing and I’m going to be busy, so I need to make space in my mind and my calendar and my home for new tasks and new habits, new goals and new routines. I need space to expand and stretch out into the roles I’m taking on. And so far, that’s very much what January has been for us in our home: clearing out, making choices, tossing what we don’t need, and making space for what we do.
We have boxes and boxes of stuff to go through. With the renovation of our attic underway, we are going through all our boxes and bins, deciding what to keep, what to give away, and what to toss. Sometimes it’s easy. Sometimes it’s not. With a lot of childhood things, we take time to tell each other the stories about the objects so we can fully let them go. We’ve bought new bins to organize and properly store the items that are still important to us. We celebrate every time we break down a cardboard box to be recycled, every time four boxes turns into one organized bin. We stack them up and move onto the next. We look up DIY storage solutions and space-saving options. We let things go and we let things stay.
I’ve been somewhat anti-stuff for a couple years now because I can feel the weight of it. I’m not naturally this way, so it takes effort for me to let go, but I want to let things go. I want to declutter and lighten the load. I want to feel good about the things we have, and be responsible with the space available. It’s about getting things in order, from the clothes in my closet to the goals for my career. It’s about being conscious of the impact I’m having on supply lines and people’s lives and the planet, and the impact I’m having on those in my circles, my family and friends.
It feels like I have space to breathe, and that’s just what I’m going to need this winter and spring. So I’m getting things in order, getting rid of what doesn’t belong and making space for what does.
How does January feel to you this year? Are you making space for anything?