the tree still looks lovely, even on december 29. but it's not the same, is it?
all of the anticipation is gone. the gifts are open. the gatherings are done. the decorations that took a whole day to lovingly place in just the right spot take less than 30 minutes to pile onto the table, wrap up, and pack away. (this makes me inexplicably sad.)
the very last christmas cookie gets eaten. peace on earth and goodwill toward men fades into the background of many peoples' minds. things go "back to normal."
but i'm not a big fan of normal. and i have a hard time when christmas magic disappears into the ether. i have to baby-step my way out of the holidays. the decor gets packed away well before the tree. and then snowmen and snowflakes take the place of the santas and reindeer. just to keep things festive a little bit longer. as if maybe there could be such a thing as winter magic, too.
when i was small, i had a sesame street christmas record. the record is long gone, but one song stays with me. it advised listeners to "keep christmas with you, all through the year. when christmas is over, save some christmas cheer." it's not too difficult right now, while some christmas spirit lingers. but it can get pretty tough as the year moves on, the seasons change, and christmas becomes both a distant memory and not even a dot on the horizon.
but i try. i stay on the look-out for the perfect christmas gifts, because you never know when you'll find them (and sometimes they show up in july). i try to remember the "code of the elves." i try to remember what's truly important, even though those things might only come to the forefront during the month of december. and for those times i'll struggle and forget, i keep a few reminders around the house, all year long (even though they're really christmas decorations).
peace on earth. good will toward men. today. and every day.