It's January 26th of 2011 and I packed up our Christmas decorations today.
Tree and all.
My reasons for not packing up Christmas around New Year's, like most families were three fold.
1. I love the sparkly lights and they bring me much more joy than the average person. I turn them on as soon as I get up and just sit and stare while I eat my breakfast.
2. Language school and pregnancy was kicking my butt for the first three weeks of the new year. I prioritized and decided that having enough energy to, you know, walk was more important than looking insanely tacky by leaving my tree up.
Well, 3 is the real reason.
And the most important.
3. We've decided to "Extend Christmas," as part of our family tradition. Meaning the tree and decoratations will go up about a month before Christmas and stay up until about a month after Christmas.
It comes down to two things.
#1- We want Grace and any subsequent children to truly understand the meaning behind Christmas. I always marvelled at the fact that adults and teachers would ask "What is the real meaning of Christmas? Not presents, not decorations?" and we'd all say "Jesus!"
But then, on Christmas day, the moment the presents are opened and the tree looks all lonely and deserted, you just know Christmas is over. Even if you still have a family dinner or other traditions in the next day or so.
Why then do we rush to put all of our Christmas decor away right after the presents are done?
Why not make it so the emphasis isn't on the presents and show that Christmas still happens even when the suspense and excitement of presents are over?
We haven't figured out what the details will look like, but we plan on studying and focusing on Jesus' birth in the month before Christmas, and His infancy and childhood in the month that follows. We're even reading up on the celebration of Epiphany, since neither of us even know what that is.
Perhaps we'll do an Advent calendar in December and a Jesse Tree in January. Maybe we'll have an increase of family devotions. Maybe we'll figure out and write our own "Post Christmas," tradition. We definitely want to have a distinction of before Christmas day and after, so that it won't feel like just a long drawn out Christmas season. We want it to have meaning and to be special. We aren't too rushed to figure it out, seeing as Grace won't really be comprehending Christmas for at least 2-3 more years.
#2- Lesser of the two reasons, of course, but still very important, will be an increase of family time during these two months. With everyone else only celebrating Christmas in the 3-4 weeks leading up to Christmas day, the holiday season can seem rushed and frenetic. There's a company party and a school party, a Sunday school party and a cookie exchange! All wonderful things but can leave you feeling pulled in a million different directions, helping you to further forget the purpose and meaning of Christmas to begin with!
We'll have 3-4 extra weeks where we can establish family traditions together, at a slower pace! A walk in the desert, a bonfire, making cards as a family, or finally having time to actually decorate those elusive Christmas cut out cookies! I don't know what this part will look like, as I'm sure the traditions will establish themselves over the years, but I look forward to it greatly.
So, that's it. That's why our tree was up through January 25th. I'm proud and excited about our decision to step outside of the norm (as if moving to the other side of the world wasn't crazy enough,) and dare to be different in order to remember the meaning of the season!
So, what do you think? Is it crazy? Do you feel like it will be stretched out too long? What would be something you implement to help your family remember the reason for the season?