My Favorite Christmas Decoration to Take Down

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Generally speaking, I dread the annual chore of taking down our Christmas decorations. Gone is that buoyant holiday spirit and wishes for tidings of comfort and joy that are ever-present at the beginning of the season, replaced instead by the dread of facing (for us in Chicago, at least) another bleak and grey winter ahead. However, there is one decoration that I actually enjoy taking down more than putting up: our display of holiday cards from family and friends.

Throughout the season, this decoration evolves – from its humble beginnings, sparsely filled with cards from only the most punctual of families to one that, as the new year dawns, is a cornucopia overflowing with happy faces and joyous smiles. Individually, the cards reflect the unique style, personalities, and perspectives of each family, from the perfectly-curated (and professionally-captured) to the collage of selfies and candids.  As a whole, the display captures a range of only the best human emotions: silliness, joy, calm, peace, happiness, and, of course, love.

Life is full and busy and never contains enough time. If we’re lucky, we see those closest to us frequently, but – I’d wager – never enough. This 21st century tradition of photo-centric holiday cards (enabled by rapidly growing digital technology and endless options for styles and designs) is a very small but very meaningful way for us to connect a little bit more with those closest to us – and somehow feels more “real” than the daily stream of social media posts we see everyday from the same people.

Through these cards, you see children grow (and, over the years, lose and then gain teeth). You get a glimpse of the year’s highlights for your friends and loved ones: their tropical family vacation, that perfect Fall day in the apple orchard, their newest furry roommate, and a little one’s first Christmas tree.

While the styles, images, and moments captured within each card are as unique as the families themselves, there is one constant that all cards – in some measure – share: a desire to connect with you. So, as I trudge through the undesirable task of putting delicate ornaments back in their boxes and untangling endless strands of Christmas lights, our holiday card display is a bright spot, offering a little connection with all the beautiful, beaming faces who we’re lucky enough to have in our lives.

That’s why our holiday card display is not only my favorite to take down, but it’s also the last.  We’ll leave it up well into the new year to keep the connection with those dearest to us a little longer.

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