We finally took down the lights and garland and I did a THOROUGH vacuuming. I don't know WHY I put that off for as long as I did (*blush* over a YEAR!). I also removed all stuff that was hanging over the rails as well as stuff on the stairs. NO MORE! I have reclaimed these stairs! I will NOT put boxes on them. I will not hang things over the railings, and I will set aside time at LEAST once a month to give them a good vacuuming.
I always put off doing things because I don't think I have the time. But more and more I am realizing that if I just set the timer and DO IT, it does not take the two hours I thought it would. It usually takes 15-20 minutes. And now I know that it takes 20 minutes to vacuum the stairs with a GOOOOOOOOOOD vacuuming. Just enough time for the girls to be preoccupied with a craft! :)