There’s something magical about a Christmas tree. Blinking lights, cherished ornaments, and handmade decorations from baby hands that are now grown big, all promising the anticipation of Christmas future.
“Future” being the operative word.
Because while there’s magic in a Christmas tree on say, Dec. 23, there’s something all wrong with that same tree on Jan. 2, like half-empty champagne glasses littered on the coffee table the morning after the ball drops in Times Square.
This is the Ghost of Christmas Chores: holiday revelry ends, only to be followed by the mother of all clean up projects. We all know people who take their tree down by noon on Christmas Day, jacked up on coffee and organization. We all know the people who are waiting for the Feast of the Epiphany, which is the true end of the season. Others are waiting for the Epiphany that includes the Fourth Wise Man carrying the gift of motivation to sweep up tinsel. Deep down inside, we fear we’ll turn into one of THOSE people, the ones who still have their tree up in March because they just haven’t gotten around to it.
So here I sit, looking at my past-due tree, trying to work up the whatever to just get on with it.
We should remember that this includes taking all the coats and vacuum cleaners and whatnot out of the hall closet, dragging out the decoration boxes, and de-ornamenting the tree, which involves re-packaging no fewer than 25 Star Trek ornaments, removing 1,000 twinkling lights, eating roughly 45 candy canes, and then packing the tree itself into the garage.
Next comes the task of marching through the house on a seek-and-pack mission for various holiday-themed towels, silk plants, more lights, Nativity scene pieces, wreaths, stockings and Santa Claus pet toys.
Then everything has to be shoved back into the back of the closet, followed by the coats and vacuum cleaners and whatnot. The entire event is capped off with a final closing of that closet door; precisely at that moment, we will inevitably spy Sheep No. 1 from the Nativity and a stray poinsettia wreath that managed to escape our tossing of the rest of the house.
I woke up on New Year’s Day with the best of intentions. Unlike Hercules, I wasn’t going to try this Herculean task alone. I enlisted the two strapping young men consuming everything in our refrigerator, outlining a project that shouldn’t take more than a few hours.
They considered, and made me a counter offer: they would take down the tree and all its trimmings this Saturday, after I depart on a business trip. When I return next Tuesday, it will be to a secular home, devoid of mangers, Santas, and stuffed moose.
The only downside is that I’ll have to endure our 2012 tree for a few more days, doing its holiday Walk of Shame, desperately trying not to look out of place next to the pool table.
I’d like to propose a new holiday tradition: the Progressive Undecorating Party. The weekend after New Year’s, we move from house to house, packing and stowing and sweeping with our neighbors and friends. We’ll have a nosh at each house, and maybe toast the coming year.
The Magic of Christmas, if you will, replaced by the Magic of Friendship.
• Ahwatukee Foothills resident Elizabeth Evans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.