Our Christmas season will soon draw to a close. It’s time to plan an exit strategy!
As I’ve mentioned before, we celebrate Christmas in a way that separates the Sacred from the Profane—the special from the every day. After six weeks of focusing on Christmas: Christmas music, Christmas foods, Christmas decorations, Christmas reading, Christmas movies, it will all end on Twelfth Night. We will pack away our Christmas decorations on that day, then enjoy seasonal snacks, drinks, and music until bedtime. We may watch a Christmas movie, but it must not be a musical, or the seasonal tunes will linger. When we arise on January 7th, we will return to the every day with mingled regret and relief.
As one who has suffered from Post-Christmas Letdown, I rely on this strategy. Our family generally packed away Christmas on New Year’s Day or the day after. After a previous night of revelry, and, as I grew older, enough drinking to make a New Year’s Day hangover a threat, being booted out of Christmas mode into the cold light of a new year was spiritually chilling. January, to me, became the “cold, icy front porch of winter.” Facing the New Year, with the metaphorical door slammed shut behind me on the Christmas season, seemed bleak and forbidding.
Extending Christmas a full week into January changes all this. By the time we emerge from our celebration to face January, it’s a quarter of the way through. Adjustment has occurred without our noticing it—we were too busy celebrating Christmas!
After six weeks, the everyday seems fresh and new. It’s never long enough to fully appreciate Christmas, but it’s long enough to make us look forward to the joys of non-seasonal life. By Twelfth Night, I always have a hankering to hear the Rolling Stones that another spin of Keith Richard’s cover of Run Rudolph, Run just can’t satisfy. I love my Santa Claus mug, but I’m anxious to return to my beloved “every day” stoneware mug. As much as I enjoy reading Christmas stories and poems, I’m perusing the “to be read” shelf, where some very interesting titles await my return from “the time-out-of-time.” Some of these were Christmas gifts, set aside to tempt me out of the season on the appropriate day.
It’s time, then, to plan our exit strategy, to assure a smooth transition from the Sacred to the Profane. Aly is lining up a queue of movies to watch. I’m preparing a folder of music to reprogram my MP3 player after this year’s Christmas tunes are cleared. Michelle has winter fabrics ready to replace the Christmas runners on the windowsills. Projects set aside for the season—planning the garden, planning a new sauna, adding bookshelves to Aly’s room—are recalled and considered. We’re discussing how to use the space vacated by the Christmas branches. With the increasing daylight, we’ll begin to move back outside to tend to chores that have been less urgent during the Christmas season, such as cutting firewood.
We have enjoyed a pleasant dream of Christmas; it will soon be time to awaken gently, and rise to greet the new dawn.