It’s Still Christmas

At Spy Garden we follow the commandment of,

Thou shalt keep thine Christmas decorations up until the new year.

bahaHaha just kidding. I realize decorating traditions are an entirely personal preference and just because the lights are still twinkling at the church altar doesn’t mean yours can’t already be packed away. But we do like to enjoy ours until January first. Though this year I did put most of it away the day after Christmas. I took all the ornaments off the tree and removed the red tree skirt. I left the gold star on top and the white lights on and put a gold tablecloth around the bottom as a replacement tree skirt and declared it was:

The New Year’s Tree

The New Year’s Tree

And everyone was thrilled with this proclamation. The mantle was cleaned and dusted and freed of Christmas village-dom and no one seems to miss it. We left enough sparkle and light to welcome the new year (you’ve got to have at least some sparkle and light for New Year’s Eve!) The snowflakes fluttering in the dining room can stay until…February? Because they are pure winter perfection! How you chose to “de-Christmatize” (Spy Garden neologism #53) your decor, it’s just stuff that doesn’t really matter, my real point is that:

Advent is over, but it is still the season of Christmas on the church calendar until January 5th! The moment Christ was born was warm and happy and wonderful (i.e. much like Christmas morning) and a moment of perfect peace. The days that followed Christ’s birth were not so wonderful.

“Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt…for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” Excerpt from Matthew 2:13

Yikes! Can you imagine fleeing with your newborn the day after Christmas?! Similarly (though hopefully to a MUCH lesser degree in your lives), the feeling of going back to “reality” after Christmas coziness and joy (back to work, leaving friends/family, needing to lose the 5lbs you gained in…

eating gingerbread

eating gingerbread



etc., etc.) can be a bummer and/or shocking to the system. Looking to the church calendar eases the “end” of Christmas in a much more graceful way than the “end” being when the garbage guy picks up the overloaded trash bins.

On the first Christmas, Christ would only be five days old today. And Mary and Joseph were rushing the tiny baby to a safe hideout while King Herod ordered the slaughter of male children in Bethlehem. Now THAT’S DEPRESSING, jeez! Trudging back to the old 9-5 after gorging yourself for days doesn’t sound so bad in comparison. But seriously, Christ was born to a harsh world that today is still full of sin. Focusing on the cruel realities of this world can be depressing. Look instead to the hope Christ brought to this world. The celebration and contemplation of the birth of Christ is not over when your kids are beaming over a pile of toys or when you’ve sealed up a box of sparkling glass and ribbon. Grace, peace, mercy, forgiveness, love; these things are what came with the birth of Christ. And you don’t need to clean them up, put them away, pay them off, or move on from them. Christmas isn’t over yet!

(This post was originally published December 29, 2013.)

16 thoughts on “It’s Still Christmas

  1. gardenengineer

    We take down our Christmas decorations incrementally over a week or two so as not to induce symptoms of withdrawal. (Ever walk into a store that was in the process of removing its Christmas stock—before Christmas? Very depressing.) Some of the lights stay up all winter, though. They are the perfect antidote for this darkest (literally) time of year.

  2. Pingback: Winter Greens | Spy Garden

  3. Mominthegarden

    In Ireland, many people wait until the 6th (like Maria @ Sweet Domesticity mentioned) when the 3 Wise Men arrive, to take down the decorations. I have to say that this year I am going to take them down on the 4th when I have still have children around to help! Maybe just a prayer at dinner on the 6th to keep the Epiphany in our minds and hearts. Happy New Year to you and your family! Dana

  4. Eliza Waters

    Great post! I like the idea of “keeping Christmas” as Dickens put it, the whole year through. With the amount effort one goes through to put up decorations, one may as well get the most enjoyment out of them as one can. I hold off until New Year or until the needles become too numerous beneath the tree to justify keeping it up! This year it’s still lookin’ good!

    1. Spy Garden Post author

      Thanks ;) We have a fake tree (actually TWO!) so it’s a bit easier to keep them up! Though next year I am bound and determined to start a tradition of buying a LIVE tree every year, then plant it after Christmas. Maybe just a smallish one, and still keep the 2 fakes. I’m all for an indoor forest haha

      1. Eliza Waters

        I live next door to a tree farm, so procurement is very easy! :-) I love the smell of fresh balsam fir – it is THE smell of Christmas to me! Scented candles just won’t do it. Some years I collect the needles to put in a bowl to crush and smell for months afterward to enjoy that pungent scent. Every gift store in Maine (where millions of balsam trees grow) sells balsam pillows for folks like me who love that smell. :-)

  5. narf77

    We still have enormous Christmas decorations over our gate at the front of the property that we just never got around to taking down…good to see that they are at least relevant once a year. We take our decorations down on January 6th as well…or sometimes later if we are lazy (which sadly, seems to be the case most years). No winter wait here, it’s straight back to action. We are prepping and painting our deck, deckrailings and part of the house so we don’t have time to take those decorations down quite yet…

    1. Spy Garden Post author

      I’ve always wanted to make some sort of frames (maybe a cylinder shape? out of chicken wire or wood or something) for which to wrap the Christmas lights around so you could use them all seasons. Christmas lights just make the BEST indoor lighting! And maybe for outdoors: a replica of the Eiffel tower that is lighted at night? Spy Garden needs that. Methinks. ;)

      1. narf77

        Sounds right on the money ma’am. We noticed some HUGE round strangely 70’s plastic light shades that were thrown into a skip right next to where we went to college a few years ago. I had no idea what I wanted them for but I did. I asked the skippies (people loitering around the skip in work gear that appeared to have something to do with the process of garbage…) and they said “knock yourself out lady!” so I did (almost literally but that is another story…) and for a year they languished in one of our sheds taking up too much room and making Stevie-boy twitch. We decided to paint them like HUGE Christmas baubles last year and strung them over the entry gate to the property. We spray painted them in stripes and sprinkled glitter on them and they survived a particularly windy and wet winter where lots of trees fell down on the property so we figure they earned their “stay up for another year” stripes (and we are too lazy to take them down…they are probably landmarks now! “just past the crazy people’s gate…that’s where the church is…” ;) )

  6. Maria @ Sweet Domesticity

    We always leave our Christmas decorations up until at least the 6th/Epiphany – sometimes even a week or two longer! There’s still a lot of winter ahead of us, so I try to hang onto the warmth of the holidays as long as possible. Otherwise, it’s an even longer wait to get into the garden!


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