Do you ever read something that bothers you so much, even seemingly inconsequential and trivial, that for some reason you can’t shake it off? Another person might not give it a second thought, but it gets on your nerves and stays there.
I was informed the other day, by no less an authority than the venerated Wall Street Journal, that my fun and festive Christmas wreath is “tone-deaf.”
A recent piece I came across in the Journal real estate section was pretentiously headlined: “Why You’ll Want a Simple Wreath this Holiday.” (Few things get my goat more than being told by would-be trendsetters and tastemakers what I’m supposed to want. There’s no better way to get on my bad side right out of the starting gate.)
The upshot of this article was that your holiday decorating ought to match the tenor of the times—that is, it should be as dull, bleak, joyless and sterilized as 2020 itself. Over-the-top wreaths with big bows and shiny balls and other frou-frou are “tone deaf,” the article proclaimed. Instead, the wreath gracing your front door ought to be bland and monochromatic as…wheat.
No joke. As alternatives, the WSJ piece suggested stripped-down wreaths constructed from berries and a dried-wheat wreath from Pottery Barn as examples of the type of minimalist holiday cheer appropriate to 2020.
My tone-deaf wreath, according to WSJ
The dried-wheat wreath WSJ thinks I should have
Which would you rather look at?
There have been periods in the recent past when it was suggested that more understated and subdued holiday festivities were called for in light of national events. Two that come to mind are the post-9/11 season and the 2008-09 recession. In the case of the latter, Oprah sidelined her wildly popular and celebrated “Favorite Things” tradition.
You can choose to subscribe to a contrarian school of thought, which is that going all-out and over-the-top is the tonic we need in troubled times. You don’t have to go out and buy new stuff. But if you’ve already got the lights, ornaments, the mechanical lawn Santa and snowmen, why should you let them collect dust in the basement because some Scrooges in the print media say so?
Maybe carrying on—decorating, dressing, gift-giving, cooking and baking—same as we do every year is the biggest middle-finger we could give to this horror show of a year. It’s not like anyone is going to any big, boozy holiday soirees. At least not unless they’re a politician.
If understatement and minimalism suits your personal taste, then by all means, do you. There’s nothing wrong with that style. There’s nothing wrong with any kind of decorating. Unleash your inner Martha Stewart.
I remember back a couple decades ago when the minimalism movement was in vogue. A woman I knew had an annual tradition where she bought a large real fir tree and invited her friends to a tree-trimming party at her Uptown condo. “When it comes to Christmas,” she declared, “I’m a maximalist.”
And wheat is for farmers.
Let’s raise a glass to big-ass bows, giant shiny balls, and flashy multicolored string lights. According to WSJ, my Christmas wreath is tone-deaf. With all due respect Wall Street Journal, take your dried wheat and stuff it.
PHOTO #1: Author
PHOTO #2: Potterybarn.com