I’ve grown tired of the consumer Christmas season. I prefer after-Christmas, when the focus is no longer on buying things. Now, we focus on the feelings: Coziness. Restfulness. Gratitude.
Around our neighborhood, I see Dads and sons taking down decor. They probably figure it’s better to do it now, the weekend before the cold snap hits. They remove hooks from gutters and porch railings and fences, pulling off greenery, red bows, and the lights.
Leave the lights, I whisper-scream in my head. They don’t hear me. The dismantling continues.
Trees are lined up like fallen soldiers on the curbs in our neighborhood. Cherished Christmas trees, carefully chosen at a tree farm then decorated and cared for in a prominent corner of the living room, have been demoted. In one day, they've gone from centerpiece to junk, stripped of their sparkle and lights.
I spotted a life-sized Santa statue at the curb today, holding a banner that said, “Merry Christmas!” in his gloved hands. This Santa is a little worse for wear. I wonder if, in better days, he had a tiny motor in him that forced his arm into a friendly wave, or maybe made a mechanical “Ho Ho Ho!” echo down the street. Now, he lists a bit to the side. The cherry-red of his suit is faded to a dull, off-brand imitation. Instead of suffering the indignity of being laid flat, at least someone has leaned him casually, almost a little drunkenly, against a tree. He will wait there, his half-cocked smile strangely vacant, and await the garbage truck that will take him away on Wednesday morning.
The first snowfall of the year is a baptism of sorts: a clean slate, a sparkling beginning.
Soon, a numbing cold will follow. At least, that’s what the forecasts say. The snow, while beautiful, will become hardened and icy and dangerous.
So by all means, take down the mistletoe. Pack up the stockings until next year. Drag the tree, and any remaining needles, to the curb. Grinch and Santa, see you later.
But please, leave the lights. The lights are the hopeful part of Christmas that I’m not ready to give up quite yet.