The calendar tells me it’s closer to Valentine’s Day than it is to Christmas, and yet until yesterday the stockings were still hung by the chimney with care. There’s no room for Cupid’s arrows and heart-shaped chocolates when your home is still overrun with elves and 8 tiny reindeer.
Traditionally, the family commences de-decorating on the first day of the New Year. It takes all the 12 Days of Christmas and then some to get each turtle dove and leaping lord out of its box, but usually we’ve closed the book on Christmas by January 2nd.
Not this year.
It’s hard to let go of the holiday spirit when you’re buried under a snow drift. Plus, the 9 dancing ladies find the basement very dreary. My feet were dragging, but eager to begin the march towards robins, daffodils, and bunnies, I finally armed myself for de-Christmasing.
I stood in front of the table and assessed my supplies. It was all there:
A roll of bubble wrap, 4 feet in diameter
3 rolls of scotch tape
2 lbs of tissue paper (acquired for free from an unattended cash register in the menswear department at Bloomingdales)
Empty plastic boxes and large, brown department store bags
2 Sharpies– one red, one black
In the past, stowing away Christmas has been left to my father — which explains why more than one of the reindeer are missing feet. It’s also why I never realized how much more work it is to put away the holiday cheer than it is to spread it. A whole day spent wrapping wreaths in tissue paper and porcelain evergreens in bubble wrap. A whole day sorting gift wrap into drawers and bells into boxes. A whole day nagged by the question: does bubble wrap have a right side up? I guess I’ll find out in 11 months when I unwrap Mickey Santa.
One thing I refused to take down and store away are the outdoor lights. The city is swamped in slush. The sidewalks smothered in Mt. Everest-sized snow piles. Winter is growing dreary. Yet, the red, green, and blue lights bring a bit of joy. There’s something about looking out the window at the glow of LED lightblubs playing on the snow that cuts through the gray gloom — it’s a little carnival in ice crystals. The winter promises to be long. Will I be willing to put away the Christmas lights before July? Here’s hoping.