52 Ways to Shift Your Focus: Haul Out the Holiday Decorations

Shift #31: Haul Out the Holiday Decorations

In this season of massive amounts of advertising, crass consumerism, and sappy yet tempting Hallmark shows that reconfigure Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” a thousand different ways, getting our own creative work done feels like a completely futile effort. Who wants to buckle down and write the next chapter or finish the series of prints for the next show when there’s eggnog and holiday music and funky little appetizers nobody makes the whole rest of the year?

So, instead of resistance, give in. Go dig out holiday decorations, if you have them. Take your time, unwrap each one carefully. Think about where they came from, what they make you feel. Think about the layers of stories that have accumulated year after year. If you don’t have holiday decorations, go dig out old photos of holidays past. It’s time to remember the old stories. What better writing/art prompts could you ask for than the ones you already have that help you melt into the winter season?

Your next creative shift in focus might be right there, wrapped up in tissue paper, waiting to be illuminated by twinkly lights.

Here are some of mine:

Detail from a pastel my son Shawn made for us ten years ago. He’s gone on to be a visual artist.

Candle that my parents had while I was growing up. My mother could never bring herself to light it.

Tiny clay birds from my husband’s childhood Christmases. He spends a lot of time watching real birds. They make him happy.

Ornament my daughter Abby made in kindergarten. She has always loved to hang ornaments and I’m honored she likes to decorate our tree with me.

Your holiday stories don’t have to be cheery or done in red and green. They just have to be yours, from the heart, where all the best art originates.


  1. Thanks for reminding me of the “little things,” which are actually the “big things.”

    I can see why your son became a visual artist.

    As for that candle, I have several from my childhood also that are similar and unlit. Why burn a work of art?


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