… well past what would be considered normal or even healthy in most other households.
When I was a child, we left the tree up until January 6th, which is the Epiphany in Catholicism celebrating Jesus as the human Son of God. It also follows the twelfth day of Christmas (January 5th) when your true love gives you “12 drummers drumming” and all the other stuff promised in the song and who wants to miss out on that.
On January 6th, my mother and I would exchange one last, small gift and then that was the end of the Christmas season and the tree would come down in what anyone would agree was a reasonable time frame.
But then we didn’t have eight-foot trees with the number of lights well past all fire safety warnings and hundreds of ornaments collected over my rather substantial lifetime as I do now. Add to that the fact that the tree costs an entire week’s budget of groceries and gasoline and you can bet I want my money’s worth, so my trees have sometimes been known to shine brightly damn near till Valentine’s Day.
Lest you worry about the fire hazards associated with such a lengthy stay, let me just assure you that due to the high cost of heating and the subsequent temperatures approaching meat locker status in my home, my tree stays fresh as the day it first arrived. Another thing that makes it so hard to part with. It feels like pulling the plug on a friend who still looks great in a coma.
This year will be different, however. My tree is only three feet high and the task of taking it down not nearly so daunting. So even though it shows no signs of drooping, come January 6th I’ll have one last eggnog and brandy, raise my glass to season well celebrated and begin the detrim with only a trace of sadness. Once naked, I’ll put the tiny pine outside my front door with plenty of water and enjoy it there until it chooses the date of its own demise. Then, as I would want done with me, I’ll toss it onto the farm burn pile and watch its ashes rise to meet the sky.
It seems like a fitting good-bye.
How do you end the Christmas season?