But there is one item of holiday trimming that I have perpetually overlooked: the Christmas tree skirt.
For the uninitiated, let me explain that one must use a special stand to hold a Christmas tree upright, and they are generally unattractive and unwieldy chunks of plastic or metal. To create a pleasing display, it is customary to buy or make a special circle of cloth, typically decorated and ornamented to look all Christmasy-like, and wrap that pup around the tree stand, thereby camouflaging its ugliness and adding another level of awesomeness to the Christmas tree display
Here's the sad truth: never have I owned a proper tree skirt.
I don't know why, but most of the time, they just seem a little overdone and frilly to me. Sure, I could make one that suits my sensitive little aesthetic, but for whatever reasons, I always seem to invest my time, creative energy and money into other aspects of Christmas.
Until this year.
At the advice and counsel of my youngest, I set out on a mission to come up with a fresh, simple, inexpensive but festive solution to the tree skirt problem.
And half a yard of IKEA fabric later, this is what I came up with:
White polka dots on a crisp black background. A soothingly organized grid of simple circles to calm my eye after taking in the riot of colors, shapes and textures that is my decorated tree.
Wrapped in a graceful yet utterly unfinished fashion around the base of the tree.
A real-life solution to a real-life problem.
Yet while I liked the general look of my new creation, as I crawled around on the floor to take pictures of it, I wondered doubtfully if my tree skirt was Christmasy enough. There are no spangles, no glitter, no Santa faces, no trees or reindeer, not even a hint of red or green. I began to wonder if my pursuit of minimalism had taken me too far from the spirit of Christmas.
Suddenly another glorious black-and-white creation entered the view of my camera lens. See the black leg and white paw stealthily creeping past?
As I watched my black-and-white boy, Sirius, slink around among the presents and delicately sniff the fragrant branches, it occurred to me that while we may think of red and green as the traditional Christmas colors, or even gold and silver as symbols of the priceless gift of Jesus' birth, it could be that black and white are the most important colors of the nativity.
Black sky over Bethlehem, white star over the stable. The light of Christ coming to us in the darkness. Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright.
And suddenly, my simple black-and-white tree skirt seemed just right.