When hol­i­days col­lide: How to dec­o­rate the blended tree

Orlando Sentinel - - STYLE & HOME -

COMMENTARY plenty chal­leng­ing, but blend­ing hol­i­day dé­cor is the top­per on the tree. She wants the an­gel. He wants the star.

“The tree in a blended home can be very con­tentious,” said Mac Har­man, owner of Bal­sam Brands, maker of ar­ti­fi­cial trees and all that goes with them. Both par­ties come to the thresh­old with boxes full of nos­tal­gic sen­ti­ment and hearts full of ex­pec­ta­tions. But when hol­i­day vi­sions col­lide, joy flees like smoke up the chim­ney.

This is ex­actly why peo­ple started spik­ing the eggnog.

I was re­minded of my lost nos­tal­gic sen­ti­ment and dashed ex­pec­ta­tions re­cently while talk­ing to a woman at a so­cial event. Af­ter chat­ting a few min­utes, she re­al­ized I wrote that quirky home col­umn she read the news­pa­per. Our pleas­ant dis­cus­sion took a turn. The ex­pres­sion on her face looked like she was ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a bad stom­ach cramp. Her eyes widened, and she cried, “Did your ex-hus­band re­ally throw away all your Christ­mas dec­o­ra­tions?”

“That was eight years ago,” I said.

“Who could for­get?” she said. Clearly, not her. To her, los­ing all your Christ­mas dec­o­ra­tions at once was on par with watch­ing your house slide off a cliff with your fam­ily and dog in­side.

Now my face was ex­press­ing flu-like symp­toms. “That was rough,” I said. “But,” and I cer­tainly couldn’t have said this then, “it was a bless­ing.”

I was mov­ing out of my home in Colorado to Florida. I’d run out of room in the mov­ing truck. So the Christ­mas boxes — the tree, its trim­mings, the nut­crack­ers, the stock­ings, the … I can’t go on — re­mained on the drive­way. My then-hus­band was stay­ing be­hind in Colorado, mov­ing to a smaller place, with lim­ited stor­age. He would take the boxes for now, we agreed.

But when his mov­ing day came, he had to make some cuts. I don’t blame him. It was a tough time.

“A bless­ing?” The woman was wait­ing, star­ing at me with a how-on-earth look.

Yes, a bless­ing.

See, that first Florida Christ­mas, when I was build­ing my hol­i­day back from scratch, I lived in a home I was stag­ing to help sell. My tree needed to look not too per­sonal or over­done. Not hav­ing any dé­cor made that easy.

As I moved to five more stag­ing projects, I felt grate­ful not to haul all those dec­o­ra­tions, nor open a loaded box of or­na­ments that would go off like hand grenades det­o­nat­ing mem­o­ries.

But the great­est bless­ing of all was not hav­ing to cull through the Ghosts of Christ­mases past with my new hus­band, DC, when we blended our homes four years ago.

While I am not rec­om­mend­ing toss­ing all your hol­i­day dec­o­ra­tions when a re­la­tion­ship ends, I

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