As the old Whoville song goes:
Welcome Christmas, come this way
Welcome Christmas, Christmas day
Christmas Day is in our grasp
So long as we have hands to clasp
Christmas Day will always be
Just so long as we have we
Welcome Christmas, bring your light ...
Well, it’s here. The season that began so long ago, with an earlier-than-usual Thanksgiving, is almost over. That which I toiled to wrap late into the evening last night – having forgotten to buy more tape, 57 trips to Target notwithstanding – is now unwrapped and scattered across the floor. The children, nibbling on our traditional coffee cake breakfast, are mostly content with Santa’s offerings. The allowance of eggnog with the coffee cake helps to soften any detectable disappointments.
As I sit back and take it all in, my thoughts drift to a familiar Christmas morning thought: how soon can I take down the Christmas tree, pack up the decorations, and unclutter these 1,200 square feet that we call home? Is this afternoon too soon? How about tomorrow?
This has been a straining Christmas season for obvious reasons: an untimely death, and the bloodshed of babies, of course, but also the recent invasion of illness into the life of someone I love very, very much. Yet none of this awfulness is really an excuse. Christmas afternoon any year typically finds me plotting to take it all down and pack it all away – as soon as possible.
My family, understandably, will have none of my holiday-put-away machinations. The tree and decorations must remain up until New Year’s Day. I reluctantly admit that this is probably as it should be.
Did you happen to catch the essay in this Sunday’s Parade magazine about the women who puts up three Christmas trees and could not bear to take down the small one in her kitchen? The spirit of Christmas, she offered by way of an anemic explanation to this madness, should be with us all year. Her kitchen Christmas tree, she posited, would serve as a reminder of the season as the new year unfolds into spring, then summer, then fall.
There’s something about this mindset that just does not work for me. It reminds me of the Elmo story (Elmo Saves Christmas) when Elmo, having rescued Santa from an unfortunate chimney debacle, received three wishes. He used one of his precious wishes to wish that every day would be Christmas day. By mid-January, the kindhearted folks on Sesame Street are going out of their minds: the decorations are becoming dusty and dilapidated, carolers lose their voices from constant singing, the sight of a frosted cookie sends people gagging, and “It’s a Wonderful Life” is the only show on television.
In the end, things return to normal on Sesame Street and the show’s big finish features a song that advises us to keep the spirit of Christmas in our hearts every day.
I guess that pretty much sums it up: keep the spirit going, but get the darn tree down and out of sight as soon as possible.
So, now, if I can make my way to the kitchen, I’ll enjoy a small slice of coffee cake with a big cup of strong coffee.
For today, and every day in the coming year, I wish you all good things, especially: peace, joy and health.