Senses of Living® Holidays

January 2004
© 2004 by Bret S. Beall

Multifunctional Holiday Decor!

For the last couple of months, I have been providing an overview of ideas for home entertaining, rather like Entertaining 101. I had initially planned to write more about entertaining this month, when an idea occurred to me: How can we start the new year with less stress and more décor in our lives?

My answer? Don’t take down your holiday decorations (at least not ALL of them)! Now, before you get all huffy, keep in mind that I am working from an assumption of a true Senses of Living® holiday season, rather than a stereotypical décor scheme as promoted by various mainstream magazines and television shows.

If you check my columns throughout the year (visit the archive/site map at http://www.god-dess.com/sitemap.html ), you will see that I encourage using glass Christmas tree balls in plain colors to add color to dining tables and other areas of the home throughout the year. If one avoids season-specific decorations, one can make those décor items multi-task, so that you don’t have to!

I don’t use a traditional Yule tree in my home. Instead, I string lights on my chi-wara-kunh, a huge wooden headdress from Mali. I also string lights on some of my larger plants. If one uses the strands of pure white lights, rather than multi-colored lights, one can have a festive atmosphere year-round. For that matter, you can even use multi-colored lights. You can use anything you want to use! You can even purchase potted evergreen trees to use indoors, then plant them outdoors, or try to maintain them as houseplants, or use a REAL houseplant, the Norfolk Island Pine, as a surrogate Yule tree. And, if you DO use a traditional cut tree in your home, think about a mindful way to dispose of it; some of the following options will work for you, and some won’t:

  1. Put the tree in the corner of a lot, or in a fencerow, to provide shelter for birds.
  2. Drop the tree into a lake or pond, to provide shelter for fish and their spawn.
  3. Cut the branches from the trunk, and use them to cover delicate plants in your yard (or use the tree intact, place it on top of your flower bed, and fill the branch space with dried leaves to provide insulation). Use the naked trunk to demarcate a flower bed, or (if you leave about six inches of each branch on the trunk) as a hat- or coat rack in your home by nailing a board to the bottom for stability, or use it as a message board or art display center.
  4. Take the tree to your city’s chipping facility; contact your mayor’s office for locales and recommendations. The tree chips can be used for mulch, or as path/trail making material (be aware that evergreen chips can contain oils and resins that can injure other plants, so use them cautiously as mulch).

Wreathes! Yule wreathes tend to be very specific, and very identifiable. What if you used something a bit more generic to which you could add some seasonal cheer throughout the year? I described a variety of wreathes in a previous column, but there are so many options. In fact, you can use wreathes as a door decoration all year long! I must admit that I do not use a wreath at Yule; years ago, my dear friend Carol gave me a beautiful Jülbocke (Christmas goat) with wheat sheaves, and I adorn my door with this arrangement annually. But, not everyone has a Yule goat, so you don’t have the same excuse I have to not use a wreath!

Then, there are candles. Candles are ubiquitous, these days. There always seem to be “special” candles for specific holidays, and those would not be appropriate to use throughout the year. But … what if you used solid color candles in simple geometric shapes, and just changed the décor of their bases? Different seasons can involve winter’s evergreen fronds, or spring’s buds and shoots, or summer flowers, or autumn’s colored foliage. Same candles, different accessories: it’s all so simple! Visit my previous décor columns for guidance on candle placement and safety.

In case you weren’t sure, there are two themes running through this column. The first is: Let your home décor be multifunctional. Multifunctionality will be a theme in this column throughout 2004, as it is part of the core of Senses of Living® decorating. Sure, you can add some holiday-specific décor, if you wish to, but don’t feel that you HAVE to. Reindeer, santas, red/green everything (or blue/white everything for our Jewish friends, or black/red/green for our brothers and sisters celebrating Kwanzaa) are all wonderful, but require additional work, and thus contribute to some feelings of stress and being overwhelmed at the holiday season (though do you see how easily Christmas décor might segue into Kwanzaa décor?). Return to this column throughout 2004 for lots more discussions about incorporating multifunctionality into your home decor!

The second theme is: Treat EVERY day as if it were a holiday. When I wrote the first Senses of Living® holiday column, this was my central theme, and it has continued monthly. That was my reason for providing the plethora of unusual holidays each month, to provide an external nudge to everyone to celebrate more! I don’t understand why people are hesitant to have frequent or impromptu celebrations, but I want to encourage all of you to have more parties (even if you are the only attendee! A “party of one” is a great way to spend an evening).

So, Happy New Year! May 2004 bring you all of the health and happiness possible! And if you need help with multifunctional décor, you know you can contact me at any time!

Now, start celebrating the following January Monthly Observances (and, in keeping with the notion of simplification, and to avoid repeating what I’ve said in previous columns, I shall skip almost all of my usual pithy editorial comments this month … though I’m biting my tongue and typing up my typing fingers to keep from doing so):

Autism Awareness Month
Bath Safety Month
Birth Defects Prevention Month (sponsored by The March of Dimes: http://www.modimes.org )
Blood Donor Month (sponsored by the American Association of Blood Banks: http://www.aabb.org for more information)
Book Blitz Month
Business & Reference Books Month
Careers in Cosmetology Month
Cervical Health Awareness Month (sponsored by the National Cervical Cancer Coalition: http://www.nccc-online.org )
Crime Stoppers Month
Coffee Gourmet Month
Diet Month, Fat-Free Living Month, Lose Weight & Feel Great Month
Eye Health Care Month (visit: http://www.healthierliving.org/newsletter/20020/eyecare.html )
Fiber Focus Month
Glaucoma Awareness Month (sponsored by Prevent Blindness America: http://www.preventblindness.org )
Hobby Month
Human Resource Month
Letter Writing Month
Oatmeal Month
Poverty in America Month
Prune Breakfast Month
Radio Month
Retail Bakers Month
Soup Month
Stamp Collectors Month
Tea Month (aka Hot Tea Month)
Thyroid Disease Awareness Month

First Week of January:

Celebration of Life Week
Diet Resolution Week (Jan. 1 - 7)
Letter Writing Week (Universal)

Second Week of January:

Man Watchers Appreciation Week
Pizza Week

Third Week of January:

National Activity Professionals' Week (January 18th-23, 2004) (see www.thenaap.com ).
Book Week
Fire The Boss Week
Printing Week
Special Education Week

Fourth Week of January:

Glaucoma Awareness Week
Health Awareness Week (observed the week with the fourth Wednesday in January)
Healthy Weight Week (sponsored by Healthy Weight Network: http://www.healthyweight.net )
Meat Week
Nurse Anesthetists Week (January 25 - 31, 2004)

As we begin a new year, with much of the world in conflict, let us take a moment to reflect on the reasons for national respect and patriotism around the world: January 1 (Independence Day, Cameroon; National Liberation, Cuba; Independence Day, Haiti; Independence Day, Sudan; Independence Day, Western Samoa), January 2 (Independence Day, Macedonia), January 4 (Independence Day, Myanmar [Burma]), January 6 (Pathet Lao Day, Laos), January 8 (Commonwealth Day, Northern Marianas), January 11 (Republic Day, Albania; National Unity Day, Nepal; Flag Proclamation Day, Norfolk Island, Australia), January 12 (Zanzibar Revolution Day, Tanzania), January 13 (Liberation Day, Togo), January 15 (Martin Luther King Day, USA [observance varies]), January 17 (Constitution Day, Philippines), January 18 (Flag Day, Honduras; Revolution Day, Tunisia), January 20 (National Heroes' Day, Cape Verde; Army Day, Laos; Army Day, Lesotho), January 21 (Proclamation of the Flag, Quebec [Canada]), January 22 (Discovery Day, St. Vincent), January 23 (Flag Day, Belgium), January 25 (Flag Day, South Korea), January 26 (Australia Day, Australia; Republic Day, India), January 27 (Flag Day, Indonesia), January 28 (Democracy Day, Rwanda; King's Name Day, Sweden), January 31 (Independence Day, Nauru; The Queen's Birthday, Netherlands).

January 1: New Year's Day (US Federal Holiday)

January 1: Last Day of Kwanzaa

January 2: Run Up the Flagpole and See if Anybody Salutes It Day

January 2: Science Fiction Day

January 3: Chocolate Covered Cherry Day

January 3: Festival of Sleep Day

January 4: Braille Day (birthday of Louis Braille)

January 4: Trivia Day

January 4: Humiliation Day

January 4: Pharmacist Day

January 4: Spaghetti Day

January 5: Bird Day

January 6: Bean Day

January 7: Old Rock Day

January 8: English Toffee Day

January 8: Rock & Roll Day(Elvis Presley's Birthday, 1935)

January 8: Man Watcher's Day

January 9: Stepfather's Day

January 10: Peculiar People Day

January 11: Amelia Earhart Day

January 12: Clean Off Your Desk Day

January 12: Handwriting Day (John Hancock's Birthday) (see also January 23)

January 12: Secret Pal Day

January 12: Feast of Fabulous Wild Men Day

January 13: Make Your Dream Come True Day

January 14: National Dress Up Your Pet Day (don’t!)

January 15: Hat Day

January 16: Religious Freedom Day

January 16: Hot and Spicy Food International Day

January 17: Bald Eagle Appreciation Days

January 17: Prohibition Remembrance Day

January 17: Blessing of the Animals at the Cathedral Day

January 18: Winnie the Pooh Day

January 19: Humanitarian Day

January 19: Martin Luther King, Jr., Birthday

January 19: Popcorn Day

January 20: Buttercrunch Day

January 20: Rid World of Fad Diets and Gimmicks Day: OK! I can’t resist this one. There are so many stupid diets out there that if you have any questions, please contact me at 773.508.9208 or email me. Don’t become a diet victim, PLEASE.

January 20: Anniversary of 1972 Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision legalizing women's right to abortions.

January 21: Hugging Day

January 22: Blonde Brownie Day

January 22: Chinese New Year 2004 (year of the Monkey, Year 4701 by the Chinese calendar).

January 22: Women's Healthy Weight Day

January 22: National Answer Your Cat's Question Day

January 23: Pie Day: see my Simple! Sensible! Sensational® recipes in January’s column.

January 23: National Handwriting Day (see also January 12)

January 24: Beer in cans first sold on January 24, 1935

January 24: California Gold Discovery Day - Gold discovered at Sutters Mill, 1848

January 24: Ice Cream Bar Day/Eskimo Pie Day (Anniversary of the patent on the Eskimo Pie, 1922)

January 24: Square Dance Day

January 25: Opposite Day

January 26: Peanut Brittle Day

January 27: Thomas Crapper Day (Anniversary of the death of Thomas Crapper. Debate still continues on whether Mr. Crapper invented the flush toilet.)

January 27: Electric light patented, 1880

January 27: Punch the Clock Day

January 28: Christa McAuliffe Day (Challenger exploded January 28, 1986)

January 28: School Nurse Day (US National)

January 28: Clash Day

January 28: Rattle Snake Round-Up Day

January 29: Corn Chip Day

January 30: Escape Day

January 31: Child Labor Day

January 31: Popcorn day

February 1-2: Candlemas/Imbolc/Ground Hog Day

Now we come to the end of Senses of Living® Holidays. One year ago, I started writing this column in February, and with the past columns archived, there is no need to repeat these dates (despite the fact that they may change periodically). So, celebrate daily, and utilize multifunctionality! Let me know if I can help you (773.508.9208 or email me).