Christmas still shines in January

Sunday, January 5, 2003

Christmas has a way of lingering in our house.

Things are so busy during the holidays that I barely have time to enjoy the stuffed Santa doll atop our water cooler or the Victorian village with fiber optic lights glowing in the dining room.

But after New Year's Day, life slows down a little.

That's when I can truly enjoy all those holiday decorations that spend most of the year stashed in our attic.

We spend a lot of energy getting our homes all decorated for the holidays. Just getting all those ornaments, lights, reindeer, snowmen and Santa dolls out of storage is hard work. The decorations seem to multiply every year like mysterious aliens, so much so that we're going to need a new attic soon.

No sooner than you get things looking like a dream home for Santa's elves, the season is over. It's time to take down all those lights and ornaments and put the artificial tree back in the box for another year.

I'm reluctant to do so.

Maybe it's because my birthday is in early January. It seems like a more joyous occasion when the Christmas tree is still up and the Christmas clock is still hanging on the wall, electronically chiming out holiday tunes.

When you are middle-aged like I am, you need to grab every advantage you can so you don't feel crushed by another birthday. You want to age gracefully. That's easier done with "Jingle Bells" than "Auld Lang Syne." It's better to light up your Christmas tree with sparkling lights than to ignite all those birthday candles. At my age, birthday cakes can be fire hazards. It's wise to keep the fire extinguisher handy just in case a birthday blaze breaks out.

Growing up, my birthday was sort of an extension of Christmas. It meant another present under the Christmas tree.

I no longer get added presents under the Christmas tree. I'm not sure I could find it amid all those presents that my children receive.

More than a week after Christmas, our living room still looks like Santa's warehouse with a purring toy cat, a globe and other presents piled around the tree. There's even a stack of extra batteries to keep Becca's and Bailey's games powered up well into the year.

Our puppy, Cassie, doesn't seem interested in the toy cat. She knows it's not on the prowl. As long as she has a spot to nap on the couch, she doesn't care about the shiny ornaments or the manger angels that stand guard over the entertainment center.

We were so behind in getting our holiday decorations up this year that we skipped putting up our outside lights entirely. Even our 8-foot-tall Santa didn't make it out of the box. It's kind of sad.

January doesn't seem the same when you're not outside in a blizzard trying to take down the Christmas lights and avoid slipping off the ladder or freezing to death.

I'm sure the utility company felt a little less holiday cheer too since we didn't power up the front yard like we did in past years.

But I've no doubt we'll make up for it next year.

I'm beginning to think that merchandisers have it right after all. Maybe we should put all our Christmas decorations up right after Labor Day. That way we could enjoy the decorations before we get to the hurried holiday season.

Utility companies would get a charge out of it too.

That would certainly light up the economy if not my birthday cake.

Mark Bliss is a staff writer for the Southeast Missourian.

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