Jan. 6 is always a sad day.
It’s the day after the 12th day of Christmas.
It’s the day Christmas isn’t anymore.
In the days when Christmas started at Christmas, instead of some time in September, this was the day the decorations went back into their boxes, the tree came down, and the lights were turned off.
In my household, Christmas decorating usually begins early in December, instead of on Christmas Eve, as it was in my childhood.
But Christmas is still packed away on Jan. 6. It’s a tradition so deeply ingrained in me, that I have never broken it… not even bent it a little.
As much as I dislike the job of hanging up Christmas baubles, taming an unruly tree, and struggling with strings of miscreant lights, I hate taking them down even more.
Certainly, the tradition is always accompanied by an inner voice – the personification of my basic instinct for laziness – that makes a compelling case that, if I don’t take the stuff down and pack it away in boxes, it’ll save me a lot of time and effort next December.
And it’s not only my inner voice that wonders why I expend a whole bunch of time and effort in January, just so I can do it over and over again. A brother-in-law suggested leaving the Christmas tree in the corner of the living room: “Just throw a bed sheet over it and ignore it for a year – how hard can that be?”
He was kidding, right?
Ha! You don’t know him.
It’s not just the effort – the do-it… undo-it… do-it… undo-it… – that sends me into a funk every time I have to get out the stepladder and empty boxes when Jan. 6 rolls around.
I like the decorations. I like the stockings hanging near the fake fireplace and the garlands round the windows and the holly on the door. Allergies in the family have mandated fake Christmas trees, but I like them anyway. And I like those bright little lights along the veranda and the deck rail, outlining the garage roof and the wreath on the garage door, and the random strings thrown into the shrubs and bushes out front.
I like the neighbours’ blow-up Santas and sundry characters and the wire-frame reindeer and the cacophony of colours up and down the street.
They’re fun, and they make me feel good – what they’re supposed to do.
When they come down, it has the opposite effect.
And I hate that.