By Suzanne Sparrow Watson
We are a divided country. I’m not talking about politics, but over something much more important: when to take down the Christmas decorations. On one side there are the people who put up the decorations minutes after they finish Thanksgiving dinner and leave them up until the first week of January. On the other side, are people who wait until mid-December to decorate and then whisk everything away on December 26th. Like much else in our culture, there is no correct answer as to when Christmas decorations should be taken down, but there are a lot of firm opinions in both camps. But surely there is reasoning on both sides, so for our readers’ edification, I present both arguments.
The Christian calendar is the original source for dictating the putting up – and taking down – of holiday decor. According to religious experts, the beginning of Advent is the correct time to start trimming the tree. Advent starts on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, which coincidentally in the U.S., is usually around Thanksgiving. So, for those of you who scoff at people who put their tree up “early”, they are actually following centuries-old tradition. The Christian calendar also dictates that the decorations stay up until January 6th, or as it is known, the Epiphany. The day celebrates the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist and the arrival of the Three Wise Men. It is also known as “Twelfth Night”, counting the days between Christmas and Epiphany. Most of us recognize those twelve days because of the carol, The Twelve Days of Christmas, known for its milking maids and leaping lords and the annual newspaper article of that year’s financial tally for all those gifts. So, we can conclude that people who put up their tree early and take it down late are not being influenced by Target and Macy’s, but by long-held religious convictions. Or not.
On the other side of the equation are the “when it’s over, it’s over” group. Try as I might, I could not find one reputable article arguing for the early demise of Christmas decor. However, being a member of that camp, I am going to put forth my own reasoning. First, I was greatly influenced by an old neighbor, who I watched drag his Christmas tree to the end of the driveway for garbage pick-up the day after Christmas. He noticed my horrified reaction, and shouted, “Hey, when it’s over, it’s over.” I was appalled that he could be so cavalier about the sanctity of the Christmas tree. But as I came back into our house all of my decorations suddenly reminded me of the person who stays too long at the party. Right then I had, if you will, my own epiphany. Each year I took the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day off work. It is commonly known as “dead week” and for good reason – it’s a great time to relax. Each Christmas my mother-in-law would give me several books by my favorite authors, and “dead week” was my time to snuggle up on the couch and read to my heart’s content.
So that fateful morning of December 26th, I began to re-think how I wanted to spend my week. My personality is such that I could not relax on the couch and read, knowing that I had hours of work ahead of me taking down all the decorations. I looked around the room and felt as if the tree, the stockings, the garlands and the fifteen Santa Claus statues were mocking me. So, I began to take everything down and by the end of the day the house was back to normal. I spent the rest of the week blissfully reading and relaxing. Each year since then, my goal is to have all of the Christmas decor down by noon on December 26th. I have never regretted it and only smile a bit smugly as my friends lament the chore in front of them in the days after Christmas. Like a lot of things in life, it’s a lot more fun going up than it is coming down.
But there is another reason I move on so quickly after Christmas is over. I think that Christmas is a time for reflection and looking back with great sentiment. New Year’s Day, on the other hand, is a time to look forward and anticipate great things for the upcoming year. I have found that once I have put away the Christmas decor it allows me to focus on the future. I know that past couple of years have not panned out the way any of us would have wanted, but still, I have great hope for 2022. Maybe I’m naïve, or overly optimistic, but I think it will be a good year ahead.
My brother and I wish all of our readers the very best for the new year and once again, we thank you for continuing to read our blog.