Taking down the decorations is my least favorite part of Christmas. When I was a child, we always took down our tree on New Year’s Day mostly because it was always a real tree and beginning to dry out by then. When I grew up and began decorating my own Christmas trees, I left them up a little bit longer, especially once we made the shift to putting an artificial Christmas tree in our living room. These days I don’t take my decorations down until after Epiphany (January 6), and sometimes not even then. The truth is, I’m never really ready to “undecorate” the house.
But eventually even I have to admit that it’s time to take everything down, and so I drag my boxes and cartons out of the basement and begin the long and tedious process of packing all my ornaments and decorations away for another year. Somewhere along the line, I quit feeling sorry for myself and focus much more on making sure everything is properly wrapped, in the correct box, and clearly labeled. (My obsessive need for neatness comes in handy sometimes.)
Even though our house always looks just a little bit naked those first few days without holiday decorations scattered so liberally about, there is always a part of me that likes what I see. The undecorated house reminds me of a blank canvas, and I start to think about different colored throw pillows, or perhaps a new set of shelves to store my ever-growing collection of photo albums. New things seem possible now that the clutter of Christmas has been cleared away, and I find it much easier to envision some positive changes for my home.
And once my Christmas decorations are put away, I know that the holiday season is officially over and that it is time to look forward into the new year. I’m not a person who easily embraces change, but I never want to be a person who fears it. The new year helps remind me that sometimes change is both necessary and good. The new year can be a symbol of a “clean slate” that allows me to leave behind the clutter in my life that isn’t doing me or anyone else any good, and gives me a chance to make some of the changes that will move me toward a life that is happier and more full of purpose.
And of course, it helps to remember that in only eleven short months I’ll be able to decorate my house for Christmas all over again….