Putting away the holiday
By Jennifer M. Latzke
It seems like I just got the tree up this year and now it’s already time to take it down again.
How is it that the month of December can just zoom by when we’ve had Christmas advertising and holiday sales jammed down our throats since September? I barely had time to get the tree and trimmings up that weekend after Thanksgiving, and now in a blink it’s time to take them down again and put them away.
You think I’d be used to it by now. You see, as an ag journalist my work picks up during the month of December with state commodity group meetings, farm shows and the like. It flows on into January and right through March with travel for Journal special events and then the national meetings. Oh, I don’t mind the travel. And it’s always nice to see friends in the business. But it does mean I miss out on some aspects of the Christmas season here at home.
Often it also means that my Christmas dÃ©cor stays on display far past the accepted time period. Yes, I’m often that neighbor who still has her porch lights up in late January. One year, I finally had time to take down the Christmas tree in late February. And that was just because I needed to decorate for St. Patrick’s Day in March.
But being busy is just one excuse for keeping the holiday lights up past their prime. For me, packing it all away means packing away some of the anticipation and joy of the season.
You see, by January, the presents have been unwrapped and enjoyed and now the credit card statements come to remind you just how much you celebrated the holiday. January snow is just plain January snow and not magical Christmas snow, and that cold, blustery day in January somehow is worse than the same one in December. Visiting family and friends are now back in their own homes and routines and yours seems a little bit emptier because you no longer have a houseful of noise.
And somehow, in January, the peace and goodwill that flowed just a month before seems to vanish into thin air. People are ruder in the stores and on the roads. You see grumpier posts from your friends on social media. There are fewer feel-good stories on the news.
Even in my personal life I find myself more irritable and short-tempered in January.
This past weekend, I thought about all of this while I was grudgingly pulling out the storage boxes and taking down my tree full of ornaments. And I had a thought.
Maybe what I need to keep Christmas in my heart throughout the year is a reminder of the holiday.
So this year I’m keeping one ornament on display in my house. Just one. It’s a lovely old glass ornament that reminds me of family and home and all the good things about Christmas.
Sure, it’ll get stares and questions—especially as the year progresses. Yes, it’ll stand out like a sore thumb in the middle of July when it’s 110 degrees outside.
But that’s the point. I can look at that ornament and remind myself that the spirit and message of Christmas isn’t meant to just last a month, but all year long.
And I don’t have to really put the holiday away after all.
Jennifer M. Latzke can be reached at 620-227-1807 or firstname.lastname@example.org.