Now that Epiphany (January 6) has come, it’s time for me to begin one of my least favorite jobs: putting away all my Christmas decorations. Since I put up two big trees, one small ornament tree, and cover almost every horizontal space in my house with Christmas-related knick knacks, packing it all away for next year is no small chore. It takes me a few days, doing a little bit at a time, carefully wrapping all the breakable ornaments and decorations in tissue paper before placing them in one of the many plastic bins I use to store all my Christmas stuff.
I usually have a hard time getting started, because I really like the way my house looks when it’s decorated for Christmas. I like the way my upstairs tree casts a warm glow over the living room when I turn on its lights. I like the way the vintage glass ornaments shimmer on the tree, and the way almost every household decoration holds a special meaning or memory. I have a lovely nativity set that was a joint effort of my father (he made the stable) and my mother-in-law (she made the ceramic figurines). Both my father and my mother-in-law have been gone for several years, but every time I look at that nativity set, I’m reminded of them.
And I really, really, like the way the outdoor Christmas lights make the long, dark winter nights bright and beautiful. If I had my way, we’d all come to an agreement to leave the outdoor lights up through the end of February, and everyone would put up a few extra lights, whether they celebrate Christmas or not.
Eventually, I suck it up and get started taking down the decorations, and it always gets easier as I go along. With each full bin I carry downstairs and place on a basement shelf, I let go of my Christmas nostalgia just a little bit more, and discover that my house doesn’t really look so plain, even without all the extra holiday decorations. By the time I’ve packed the last of the decorations away, I realize that I’ve finally let go of this Christmas season, and am ready to plunge into the year ahead, with all the possibilities that a new year brings.
I make my usual vows to live a bit healthier this year, to try to be a little kinder and more tolerant towards others, and to find the courage to chase my dreams a little harder. I look forward to a few nice snowfalls, and then to the warmth of spring and summer that I know will follow. And because I’m me, a true Christmas nut, I also know that in a mere eleven months, I’ll get to haul all of my Christmas treasures back out and decorate everything all over again….