We leave our tree up until the Epiphany. That’s the twelfth day of Christmas, in case you didn’t know. I actually didn’t use to know that. For years I used to think the twelve days of Christmas started on December 1st, which makes no sense because you’re gifting birds for 12 days, and then what? Also, I’m an idiot.
Technically the season doesn’t even end until Candlemas, which is February 2nd this year. Like Easter, Christmas is a 40 day celebration. If we left our tree up until then, it would be a festive piece of kindling that could potentially kick off our new year with a fire, a huge insurance headache, therapy for our kids, and promises of more remodeling.
We do not have the emotional capacity for another major remodel.
Somehow, the tree is still taking water, so it’s alive despite the hundreds of little needles falling off every time someone walks by. The fir smell is still strong if you sit close enough, which is pretty good considering we got the tree on November 28th. This is a better tree than the one we got three years ago that stopped taking water a week after we got it. It quit smelling and crinkled like tissue paper.
We had to get a new tree.
The last remnants of the season are wrapped up in the glow of those tree lights. They have brightened our home every evening for over a month. The smell of fresh cookies is gone, and stations have stopped playing Christmas music. We haven’t, because we still have four more days of Christmas left.
It goes so quickly now that I’m an adult. I wish it would slow down just a little so I could enjoy it more deeply. So I could marvel in the magical feeling like I did when I was a kid. It’s still there; I’m just too busy and tired to soak it in. Regardless of how much there is always left to get done, this is my favorite time of year. For me, nothing beats the tradition of Christmas.
Still, all good things must come to an end, and onto Easter, we go.
Into the boxes go the tiny village houses, and the garland, the polar express train that zipped around the Christmas tree for weeks, and the countertop lights that we used as nightlights. Into the bins go the ornaments, the angel, and the stockings. Back into the bins go the cozy warmth of the Christmas season, where it will sit and wait for eleven more months before we welcome it back out again.
All that’s left out is the nativity scene that we keep up year-round to remind ourselves that the true meaning of Advent and Christmas are continuous through every day that we’re alive. As Henry Nouwen once said, “Life is Advent; life is recognizing the coming of the Lord.”
That’s supposed to be celebrated every day.
Christmas isn’t really about the lights and decorations, but no other time of year offers the same cozy, warm feeling than it does. Not Easter, not summer, maybe a little in the fall until Halloween comes, and things get creepy.
So, I’ll enjoy the last evenings of the soft, glow of the lights before we put it all away. I’ll try and carry the spirit of that warmth into the rest of the year with the changing seasons. I may not be able to hang those beautifully multi-colored lights around my house year-round, and I probably will sneak in some Christmas music during off times when no one is around to know, but the nature of the season is always there with us. Because that’s what life is about.
And maybe that means something a little more than a feeling.
Even more than the tree, I really wish I could leave up year-round.
But I won’t.
I do not have the emotional capacity for another major remodel.