In our family we traditionally maintained our live Christmas tree until the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6, my brother’s birthday. Although we knew other Italian families who took down their tree either the day after Christmas, or on New Year’s Day, or the day after New Year’s, we tended our tree with loving care to prolong its indoor life through January 6. While this tradition has been eased by the use of artificial Christmas trees, the pang of dismantling the tree remains.
The past several years we have tried to be more liturgically correct: We do not tamper with the Christmas tree and the surrounding decorations until the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord. This takes us almost to mid-January. Usually I try to gradually take down the decorations, removing those that are readily at hand to pluck up and store in a plastic bins. Yesterday we carefully put away the outdoor lights. However, I insisted that the outdoor wreaths remain intact; they are festooned with big red bows that brighten the dreary gray landscape of northern Indiana. This is why I loathe unwinding the lighted garlands that cheer the dark winter nights. Gradually we will put the indoor garlands to bed for the winter. By next weekend I will have become reconciled, or nearly reconciled to actually storing the Christmas ornaments and full-like-so real Christmas tree.
Probably the last decoration to be put to slumber for some months will be the banister garland and lights. The white lights and faux cypress garland lift my spirits, as do the Christmas tree and crèche. While I know the days are gradually getting longer and the nights a bit shorter, the dreariness of seemingly endless gray skies saddens me. Like a moth drawn to the flame, so am I drawn to small white lights that lace their way through garlands.
Lately I have been contemplating purchasing pink lights to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Not because retail shops and Hallmark dictates it is time to turn attention to February 14, but because I have concluded that it is perfectly fine to have tiny lights that greet me throughout the Midwest winter.
Ciao for now.