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The Christmas season is all about nostalgia, and it starts with the tree

Shane Griffin decorates a lot of homes for Christmas. He touches the doorways, the mantels, the stairway railings and the windows. He might even touch the front porch and, in some cases, the back patio. But one key place he seldom touches is the tree.

Sure, he might pick out the tree itself and cover each branch with strings of lights. But when it comes to decorating it, that’s a job often left for the homeowners and their families.

“I do some themed trees, but most of my clients want that part saved for them to do themselves,” Griffin says. “For so many people, that’s a special part of the holidays—getting together and taking out those ornaments that have been collected over the years.”

It’s time-tested traditions like decorating the tree together that key into the nostalgia of the season. And this year, nostalgia is all the rage.

A quick scroll through Instagram or TikTok reveals a host of old-fashioned holiday touches that are back and better than ever. Most notable is the reemergence of tinsel.

“For me, tinsel has never gone anywhere,” Griffin says with a laugh. “My wife’s father, who just turned 91, has done tinsel on their family tree for my wife’s whole life.”

The sparkling strands of plastic were once made of actual silver. However, the modern iteration is no less magical when the lights of the Christmas tree hit it.

“I think that’s one of the reasons it’s so popular again: the sparkle,” Griffin explains. “It shimmers and glistens, and that’s what a lot of people are looking for right now.”

Griffin was ahead of the trend, adorning his tree with tinsel last year. “Since I did that, and people saw it firsthand in a modern context, I’ve had a lot more people asking about it for their own trees,” Griffin notes.

But beyond the sparkle that speaks to the Taylor Swift-induced glimmer that has come to define 2023, Griffin says tinsel, just like collected ornaments or decorating the tree together, is a tradition with the power to take people back in time.

“During the holidays, that’s what people want,” Griffin says. “They want to be transported to a simpler time.”

There’s a reason the same songs stick around season after holiday season. The magic of the holidays lies in the nostalgia of those traditions that are carried on year after year—trendy or not. So hang the tinsel, put on the jazz music and maybe even make a Jell-O mold. Traditions are meant to be treasured, and you never know what will be trending on TikTok next.