A few days ago, on January first, I took down my Christmas decorations. I did this for a few reasons. First, as much as I love the holiday season, after six weeks of it, I do get tired. And it really is six weeks at our house. We decorate the day after Thanksgiving, more or less without fail and remain decorated until at least the new year.
If you’ve been reading this blog for a long time, then you may recall that our version of decorating is no small task. It involves nine feet of Christmas tree, snowflake throw pillows, much garland wrapping, and lighted geese in the front yard. This is nowhere near an exhaustive list, but it gives you an idea. As it says on our seasonal welcome mat, we’re like really into Christmas.
Second, after a Christmas spent with the deep freezer working overtime, the Midwest offered up a miraculous sixty-degree, sunny day perfect for pulling up lantern stakes from the yard and removing light strings from the roof. If I could ignore the coming two-and-a-half months of cold that remain this winter, it felt a bit like a spring cleaning kind of day.
I’m talking about the kind of day in which one might take a minute organize the Christmas storage boxes in the basement instead of continuing to shove the reindeer salt and pepper shakers into the same box as that string of broken lights that may offer up some replacement bulbs for the ones we used to use that looked kind of similar, except they included purple bulbs in addition to red, green, blue, and yellow.* That’s right. Not only did I put away our cherished Christmas decorations. I threw away a bunch of old, broken ones we no longer use. I was basically on fire.
And obviously the third reason I took down the Christmas decorations promptly on January first is because I didn’t want to risk, depending on who you ask, a case of bad luck, a possible goblin invasion, or the shock of hosting twelve drummers drumming in my home.
Because evidently Christian tradition dating back to the sixth century suggests that holiday decorations are perfectly acceptable at least until Epiphany, the day the wise men arrive on scene and twelfth and final day of Christmas. To leave them up any longer is, for many, a holiday faux pas that might just bring you bad luck or goblins or at the very least a disgruntled homeowners association.
I’m not sure I fully understand. Outside of singing the song about giving someone an alarming number of birds, I have never observed the twelve days of Christmas. Most of the traditions I grew up with and have continued in my own home occur in the lead up to and on the day of Christmas itself, which is why by the twelfth day of Christmas, on January 5th or 6th (depending on particular brand of Christianity or perhaps counting habits), I’m plum tired out.
Right now, I’m looking around my bland, non-Christmas-decorated house on a day that is neither sixty degrees nor sunny, and I’m grateful to have gotten all the work out of the way several days ago. I’m also happy to report that there doesn’t seem to be a penalty for taking the decorations down early.
But if yours are still up, then today might just be the day. I tell you this because I care and because I don’t want to see your home invaded by goblins. Or drummers.
*I wish I could honestly claim this isn’t a real example from my life, but it is.