It’s holiday fruit basket time! And though the fruit may be yummy, the basket is likely to become clutter when January rolls around. I received a gift of apples, oranges, and other fruit in a nice sturdy metal bowl about ten years ago. After eating the fruit, I wasn’t sure what to do with the bowl; but I kept it because I thought it might be useful for something. I never actually did anything with it, though, and it ended up sitting on a shelf in my laundry room all these years.

Empty metal bowl. 

Because I always keep fruit in a glass bowl on the kitchen table (shown in this post), it didn’t seem likely I would have any use for the metal bowl in the future, either. I considered buying more fruit at the supermarket and re-gifting the bowl at Christmas, but decided the best choice was donating it at the thrift store across the street from the supermarket instead. That way, I made sure it got out of the house—otherwise, I might easily have forgotten about the bowl and let it sit around for another ten years!

About Clutter Comedy: Every Sunday (which I envision as a day of rest after a productive week of de-cluttering) I post a Clutter Comedy article describing my most memorable clutter discovery of the week. Other bloggers who wish to join in are welcome—just post a link in the comments! There’s no need to publish any “before” photos of your clutter, if they are too embarrassing. The idea is simply to get motivated to clean it up, while having a bit of fun too!

As the winter solstice approaches in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s common to feel that we have less energy to get things done on these short, dark days. Our ancestors in farming villages probably felt the same, but they didn’t worry about it because they already had gathered in the harvest, so their hard work for the year was finished. They simply acknowledged such feelings by lighting candles to brighten their homes during this season, understanding that it would soon pass. Now we have fiber-optic Christmas trees and other modern decorations, but the days of winter are just as short and dark as they’ve always been.

Small artificial holiday tree with red flowers and fiber-optic lights. 

Unlike the farmers in those long-ago villages, most of us don’t have a natural break in our work this time of year. We may be able to take vacation time in December, but not everyone can do that—many people work in retail or other industries that are busier than usual. And even if we have vacation time scheduled at the end of the month, we’re still busy at work in early December, as well as making our holiday preparations.

So what’s to be done when we feel that we have less energy than usual and need some quiet, restful days? In addition to cheering ourselves up with holiday decorations and other bright and pretty things, I believe it’s important to keep in mind that we are doing enough. Even if we have ideas for projects that we’d like to do, and even if we have tasks that need to get done in the near future, we shouldn’t be too hard on ourselves if we can’t find the energy to do them right away. Like our ancestors, we may just want to light a candle and say, “This too shall pass.”

Nurturing Thursday was started by Becca Givens and seeks to “give this planet a much needed shot of fun, support and positive energy.” Visit her site to find more Nurturing Thursday posts and a list of frequent contributors.

Every Thanksgiving when I was a kid, my father made fruit salad. The ingredients were McIntosh apples cut with the peel still on, big red grapes neatly halved, mini marshmallows, and a half-pint of whipped cream. I thought it was great and always scarfed down lots of it.

After I grew up and moved away, I made the same fruit salad because I associated it so strongly with the holiday. There was a problem, though. My husband didn’t care for it, and neither did our children. We had Thanksgiving dinner at his parents’ house every year, and I would always bring a big bowl of fruit salad, which only a few people would eat.

This year I didn’t make it because my husband said he’d like to bring sugar cookies instead. He went to the supermarket and picked out a bag of easy sugar cookie mix that needed only an egg and a stick of margarine. The cookies got baked very quickly on Thanksgiving afternoon, I didn’t have to do anything, we brought them to dinner on a festive red plastic plate, and everybody ate them happily.

Sugar cookie mix, eggs, and a stick of margarine. 

I hadn’t realized until now that when I always made the fruit salad as part of my holiday routine, even though my husband and kids were not interested in it, I was depriving them of the opportunity to create different family traditions they’d enjoy more. If they had baked sugar cookies every year, then we would all have pleasant memories of our sugar cookie tradition.

Routines can be helpful when they genuinely serve our needs, but they only get in the way when we let many years pass without reflecting on whether they fit our current circumstances. Rather than putting things in the category of cherished traditions just because we haven’t changed them, we should take time to consider whether we really cherish them or whether we’re only doing them by rote.

We should also keep in mind that even if we like them, we’re not obligated to do them exactly the same way. If I want to eat fruit salad during the holiday season, I can make it for myself one December weekend. I might find that I enjoy it more, giving myself a bit of comforting holiday cheer to brighten up a dark evening in between Thanksgiving and Christmas vacations. It’s all about being flexible in how we look at things!