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:
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…
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.)