Tree Talk: A little goes a long way in holiday decorating

The branches with the red ornaments in the green Talavera pot are prunings from an old apple tree.

The branches with the red ornaments in the green Talavera pot are prunings from an old apple tree.
Mary Henry

It doesn’t take much. A little bit goes a long way, when it comes to the decorations and accoutrements needed to rally the Holiday spirit.

Going all out for seasonal decor can be time-consuming, exhausting and expensive. Empty nesters, dwellers in small apartments, holiday travelers, all have good reason to downsize. No need to think “Bah Humbug”. It’s a matter of adopting the “less is more” frame of mind and creating something that will proudly please you (and hopefully your guests) from Thanksgiving until Valentines Day (The Winter Festival). Should you feel that you’re shirking your responsibility, relax. This column is your permission slip.

The trick is one strong focal point, with a few, well place little reminders scattered about ... a bowl of small tinsel balls or cones, in one spot, in another, a potted poinsettia, cyclamen, or amaryllis, a red bow around the neck of the stature of the dog, duck, or pig that sits by your fireplace. You get the idea.

As for the one focal point: place it where you see it, first, walking into the room. The packages you’ve wrapped in advance? Pile them into the wheelbarrow you bought for your gardening significant other. Stage it at the far corner of the room. Tuck in sprigs of conifer or holly, or perhaps a few small pots of needlepoint ivy, bows on the handles and ... Ho! Ho! Ho!

The contorted branch that needs to come off the tree in your parking strip? Prune it now, anchor it in a decorative pot and add a few ornaments. The trimmed frond of a windmill palm,

the Oriental looking bough of a Hollywood juniper, the intricately twiggy branch of a magnolia, will all form the strong line embracing bright embellishments.

Craft and home improvement stores are filled with shiny ornaments of all sizes and incredibly believable artificial berries. They are sold loose or in ropes or as spikes. Well placed, one very affordable package can make houseplants or pots of cut greens twinkle like Santa’s eye. Buy and burn a scented candle to assure your olfactory senses take a sleigh ride each evening.

Deck the halls! Once you’ve put your masterpiece together, you have time to contemplate what it is that we all celebrate at this time of year.

It seems no accident that cultures around the World, all find cause for festivity during this period on the calendar. At somewhat various times, for variously articulated reasons, we humans have found a purpose to celebrate in the darkest, coldest part of the year. The Druids celebrated the Winter Solstice. Christmas, Hanukkah, Eid al-Firt and Yalda, Bodhi Day, Kwanzaa, and others, all fall into this period. Put them together and it’s the global Winter Festival. Hindus define the spirit quite succinctly: Diwali, The Festival of Lights symbolizes the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, knowledge over ignorance.”

With so many on our planet currently at odds with one another, this is a good time to put together that personal statement that reflects your artistic eye and your belief system. Then, make your way out into our diverse and beautiful World and find places to plant a positive word, flash an accepting or appreciative smile, support a cause your admire, but benefits someone or something to which you are not attached. It’ll feel good. And maybe, just maybe, it’ll be the pebble that starts the ripple that starts the wave.

It doesn’t take much. A little bit goes a long way. Happy Holidays. Happy Winter Festival. Happy Everything!