Angels (copy)

Judy Witthun of the town of Manchester decorated this Christmas tree with angels in December 2015.

Daily Citizen file photo

How much is enough when it comes to holiday decorations? The Christmas decor of each household is definitely personal preference.

Traditions and favorite decorations come out of storage for the season. Repeat appearances of specific festive regalia are not only desirable, but necessary for some to celebrate. Each item displayed is accompanied by history and stories. Each precious knick-knack elicits memories and smiles. It all is part of the seasonal rotation.

Some people have mantles full of nutcrackers, others have an abundance of snowmen of varying sizes and shapes, still others have dozens of Santas all over the house. One couple has 60 nativity scenes that won’t decrease in number anytime soon. Another lines every spare space on the walls and shelves with angels. Preference and taste decide what will be front and center during the holidays.

Village scenes have been around for a long time and, if that is the anchor of holiday décor, it may include 20 or 30 pieces. That which started as one church and a tree on a side table soon can be an entire dining room of houses, shops, a main street and a skating rink, complete with lots of sparkly snow and background shrubbery.

These household remodeling events can take days and add stress to an already event-filled time of year. Choosing how much or how little is based on time, resources and enthusiasm.

Some of us grew up with a tree showcasing tinsel on every branch that was put there lovingly — or swearingly — by your mother. Others may have had the snow-sprayed, blue or gold ornamented, contemporary look. What we chose on our own in later years depends on nostalgia and budget and often on space.

Our first Christmas involved hosting a Christmas party for friends. Admission to the gathering was a tree ornament. Thus began our collection of ornaments. Along with a few lights and a tree skirt that looked suspiciously like an old bed sheet, we had all we needed.

Children bring new eyes to the holiday season and often cause additions to the sparkle. Nieces, nephews and extended family give cause to have a bigger tree, an added wreath or mistletoe. The crèche may be surrounded by a train in later years with kings and stable animals going round and round. From there it can explode into the above-mentioned collections displayed.

The tree does seem to be the beginning. Starting with one scrawny Charlie Brown tree, some of us moved into two, three or more trees crowded into every spare corner of the house. I see trees blinking in bedrooms and porches as I drive around, admiring the glow.

The crescendo and explosion of holiday spectacle can fizzle and diminish with relocation and lifestyle. Building up acquisitions and collections takes years. Downsizing or eliminating excess glitz and glimmer takes only one move, one major event, one tragedy or one crisis. It could, however, be a slow progression toward minimalizing and be a natural evolution.

When that huge fresh-cut tree becomes too large to carry, we go smaller. When travel on the holidays prevents daily watering, we give way to the first artificial tree. When we move to a different home, we get to choose how many snowmen are required to still have a festive season.

My mom went from a huge tinsel-laden real tree, to a small artificial tree in the corner, to a ceramic tree on top of her television, with many intermediary steps over 8 decades. She never looked back, and she continued sharing all her holiday cheer with many friends and relatives.

Wherever you are on this sliding tree scale, it is the right place for you to be. The sharing and caring and reason for the season matters more than all the trimming. Even the Grinch figured out that “Christmas doesn’t come from a store, Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”

Kay Stellpflug is an educator and trainer in interpersonal and professional communications. She works and lives in Beaver Dam and can be reached at