There are people who can't wait to take down their Christmas decorations.
The house feels so cluttered, they say. They're tired of greenery and twinkle lights. The tree is dead, or at least uninspiring, the poinsettias as leggy as Ichabod Crane. They can't wait to pack everything away in their red and green storage tubs and start the year fresh, clean, neat and orderly.
To these folks, I say grumble-grumble-grumble.
It took more than a month to decorate our house this year, and that's without any outdoor lights. I brought Christmas boxes up from the basement one at a time, in 20-minute increments, between ballet rehearsals and other commitments. I unpacked what I could and placed knickknacks or lights wherever they fit — garland and pinecones on the mantel, nutcrackers on a kitchen shelf, Snow Village buildings on the foyer table. When we ran out of extension cords, I bought a couple more.
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When we finally got around to buying a tree, the only ones left were prickly Scotch pines. We donned work gloves and oven mitts to hang the ornaments, as if decorating a cactus, and we laughed at the insanity of it all.
Our holiday home came together bit by bit, Advent calendar-style, each day another door and a happy surprise. "By Valentine's Day," my daughter joked, "this place will look great."
Well after Christmas, when an unseasonably warm day inspired my husband to clean out the garage, we discovered a few more Christmas things and found spots for them, too. Why not? I figured. Winter's cold and long, and in need of more smiling snowmen.
Now the children are back to school, looking forward to spring break, but I still don't feel like packing things away. I did dismantle our saguaro Christmas tree, fearing the thing might burst into flame, and I took the stockings off the mantel. But everything else remains, like the aftertaste of a delicious meal.
My super-organized, clean-slate friends don't understand, and I don't expect them to. To them, mid-January lights and greenery scream laziness or holiday hoarding, an obvious reluctance to let go. New years are about resolving to move on and then moving. On! And I get that. I do.
Just give me a few weeks to relish in the warmth and glow, I told my family. We'll put the stuff away eventually, I swear. But not now, with the smell of pine and gingerbread still fresh and the first flowers of spring such a distant dream.
Sometimes, I think, it's OK to just linger, to savor, to enjoy. Maybe that's what January should really be about. So I resolve to stay put.