The Dutch Rush

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Can our traditions handle the “Magic of Tidying”?

Last week I wrote about Marie Kondo and her best-selling “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”.

Her methods actually were a little life-changing…they inspired the courage to finally get rid of things that were wasting my time and energy.

But as I have gone through our home getting rid of things, something has come to my mind over and over again.

That little thing called balance.

“Human beings are very unbalanced and prone to go off on tangents. In every area of life- with too great emphasis on one thing, leaving out another important thing altogether. None of us will ever be perfectly balanced in our spiritual lives, our intellectual lives, our emotional lives, our family lives, in relationships with other human beings, or in our business lives. But we are challenged to try, with the help of God. ”

-Edith Schaeffer, What is a family?

We are the gatekeepers for our family’s clutter, but also for our family traditions. I think it’s a little irresponsible and possibly uncaring of us to purge our homes of most of the things that bring our family joy and stability. Just because some things don’t “spark joy” (Marie’s term for deciding what to keep) for us, does not at all mean that they don’t have special meaning for our children.

“There is something about saying, ‘We always do this,’ which helps keep the years together. Time is such an elusive thing that if we keep on meaning to do something interesting, but never do it, year would follow year with no special thoughtfulness being expressed in making gifts, surprises, charming table settings, and familiar, favorite food. Tradition is a good gift intended to guard the best gifts.”

-Edith Schaeffer

So last Christmas (a year ago) during my de-cluttering campaign, I tried a little something. I got rid of nearly half of our Christmas decorations.


At the time, I remember being very careful to keep the memorable things that would be missed if I tossed them.

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This year was the test. Did I keep what mattered? Were the traditions in place?

I’m happy to say, not a single thing was missed! Everyone just commented that “there sure are a lot less things!”. But they all still had their favorites, so they were happy!

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Yes, those are Zwarte Piet hats…don’t judge. We are Dutch, after all.

(If anyone suffered from this experiment, it was me…especially when I hosted the staff Christmas party and was surprised to find I had gotten rid of several “holiday hosting” items! Thankfully, I take no shame in ironing curtains to make up for the lack of tablecloths. Although in hindsight, I should have settled this issue sooner than four hours before my company showed up.)

We kept the beauty of the season that we enjoy, but with less of the clutter. I was able to avoid wasted time sorting through the mess to get to the things we really wanted to use anyway! Putting things away took about an hour. As opposed to 3 or more.

As I put pictures into a little book of Christmas memories (that is now only two years behind, instead of four), over and over I saw those things I’d saved. The special Christmas things show up in the pictures each year.

And then I knew…it only takes a very few special things to create those traditions.

The rest is just in the way.


This beautiful nativity was a gift from my parents. I keep this on a lower shelf so that small children can re-arrange it to their heart’s content. Clearly someone thought a christmas tree was necessary…


  1. Jeannette Partlow

    January 21, 2016 at 1:14 pm

    Enjoyed this , it is so nice that Edith and Charlotte inspire you as they have me. I ordered the tidying book hoping that it will indeed bring about some magic since I’ve downsized to half the house size and it takes at least 7 hours to put away Christmas.

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