Wednesday, January 8, 2014


I'm taking the Christmas tree down today, along with all the decorations. 

We left it up longer than usual—we always have it up for our New Year's Eve party, but typically have it down by the second or third. Despite the fact that we were all polar vortex shut-ins for the past week, and had the crates in which we store all our ornaments pulled up from our storage unit four stories down, I didn't lift a finger to put things away. I convinced myself I'd do it on Three Kings Day, the "official" end of the season, then watched that day float by, making soup and homemade bread instead.

Our home's living room, with its substantial 1915 mantel, pale green walls, and dark red rug and accents, screams to be decorated for Christmas. Snow outside, warm radiator heat inside, and the glow of lights and the sparkle of crystal ornaments—it is all kinds of pretty in December in our house.

After the new year, though, even decorations in their perfect domain start to look like they are out of place, like we just stuck a towel rack up next to the television, or have decided to eat dinner in our bedrooms and sleep on the table. I haven't left the tree up because I want to hold on to the feeling of Christmas any longer, I've left the tree up because taking down the tree is an annoying job.

I remember being a kid and ditching my mom about a quarter of the way through the task. She'd yell to all three of us kids, "Come on, get in here and help!" probably as she heard us fire up the Atari in the family room, and we'd whine and drag ourselves in and generally just be unhelpful enough to be allowed to leave for her own sanity's sake. We were real punks. When I think back, we weren't much better with decorating the tree before Christmas, either—it held our interest for about half the process, at best, or only until our favorite ornaments were up, having likely fought each other for prime branch position of our macaroni art.

 I received this beautiful oboe ornament for my birthday this year from my friend, Christina,
and I hung it up on our tree, front and center. My ornament is the winner! Ha, ha, ha!
I feel like an eleven-year old, who won the fight for ornament pole position.

The thing that no one tells you, but you learn as a parent, is that a lot of the time—most of the time—the stuff you didn't want to do as a kid, but can cajole your way out of through annoying behavior, is still stuff you don't want to do as an adult. The problem? You're the one holding the baton, and there are no other runners in the relay. You have to bring that thing over the finish line, while the rest of the team is already stretching out, drinking Gatorade, and getting ready for their next event. Sometimes they are cheering you on, but sometimes they have left the stadium.

If I were to put on a process engineering cap for holiday decorating, I'd have to say that 100% of respondents in our home find both putting up and taking down these decorations tedious. The fun factor for this activity, which could be exploited to make it more efficient and or more effective, is really only 20%, and is exhausted within the first 15-20 minutes of the task. That means that, before even one-third of the ornaments are placed, no one really wants to participate anymore—we all want the joy of completion, of course, we just don't want to have to keep untangling hooks from each other, or finding a sturdy enough branch for the heavy things. For my husband, who has to deal with me yammering about the straightness of the tree, the placement of the garland (that I can't reach, and rely on him to swing around the top), the symmetry of everything, I'm sure the fun factor is exhausted about 5 minutes in. Wait...he has to haul everything up from the basement three stories down. Scratch that: he has no fun factor. I guess I should feel lucky for my 20%.

"O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree, how lovely are your branches…" when they are totally decorated, and it is December 24th, and we've just had a nice meal and a sweet bedtime story with our kid, and we are waiting for Santa to come, sitting near your glow, drinking something boozy. Putting you up and taking you down is not really fun. There, I said it. Where's the carol for that one?

Hey, dog, want to help me take down some ornaments?
Yeah, I didn't think so.


  1. If it makes you feel better, my tree and decorations are still up also. I usually have mine down by January 1st because of my youngest's birthday being on the 4th. Not this year. The weather and my husband's surgery have prevented him from taking down the bins from the garage rafters yet. I'm hoping to get it all down this weekend, but we'll see. I'm just trying to continue enjoying the glow each night in our living room.

  2. In our house, what you said rang very true. The only reason I persevere each year is because…um…I have no idea!!!! LOL

  3. Ours is still up and usually is through most of January. Keeping it up makes this month feel less hangovery. Our little tree is so pretty and twinkly. I love being in the living room at night when the kid's asleep with only the Christmas lights on. Ahhhh . . . I never want to take them down. But that would get to be a fire hazard eventually. Real tree, of course. If we had an artificial one, it would probably be up for months. ;)

  4. Oh, and I'm glad you like the ornament so much! I considered it quite a coup to happen upon something particular to you that would not take up any additional space to speak of in your newly decluttered and organized home.