I know a lot of people enjoy clearing out Christmas on December 26th, but as much as I too long for a clean slate, that’s just not for me. For starters, we travel to see family for the holidays, so inevitably we are spending our days between Christmas and New Year’s Day opening presents, baking cookies, and eating hearty meals. Additionally, December always feels like a flurry. I try to embrace the slower, reflective season of Advent, but with the way schools and activities amp up during this time, it doesn’t ever feel like the calm, peaceful time that I crave. This year especially, we had multiple end of year recitals and performances, Christmas parties and gift exchanges. Plus I wanted to do things like go see Christmas lights in town and make things magical for our kids. After gathering all the gifts for extended family, packing my own family of five to be out of town for two weeks, and attempting to leave our house tidied and clean, I arrived at my parents’ house in Texas for Christmas exhausted and with a massive headache.
When we got back home New Year’s Day, our Christmas tree had died, so we did indeed take it down. And of course, that led to the desire to pack up all Christmas decorations in our house and I will say, I’m enjoying how tidy our house is after doing some organizing. But, there are a few ways I still want to extend the Christmas season this week.
First of all, in the liturgical church calendar, Christmas starts on Christmas Day. So the “twelve days of Christmas” are those days following. For me, I’m enjoying a daily devotional that starts on the first day of Advent and ends the first Sunday of Lent. Epiphany is January 6th which marks the end of the Christmas season. This week I plan to talk about the Wise Men visiting Jesus with my kids. We still have tons of Christmas books checked out from the library that we didn’t get around to reading, so I plan to read those to the kids this week over mugs of hot chocolate or peppermint tea.
One of the main things I wanted to do in December was to walk through the Roosevelt in the French Quarter to see the Christmas lights in the lobby. We weren’t able to squeeze this in, but a friend found out that the lights stay up until the 4th and the crowds are way more manageable. Post-Christmas win!
I have other thoughts for next year, like saving cookie decorating for after Christmas and keeping the lights on our house up until January, delivering gifts to our neighbors, and maybe even advocating for our homeschool co-op Christmas party to take place during this slower week. I’m also still planning to send out holiday cards, although at this point they’ll have to be Mardi Gras themed. I think small changes like this will keep the magic alive for a little longer and slow things down so we can really embrace the Christmas season. Even though my kids were indeed playing in the backyard in their swimsuits today, (eye roll, Louisiana), I want to hang on a little longer. And of course, we look forward to January 6th when we can eat King Cake and embrace all things Mardi Gras!