Our Christmas tree slumped next to the trash can, waiting to be mulched, feels like a little victory. That used up evergreen screams, “It’s done, I made it!”
I’m a believer that when Christmas is over, it’s over. I want everything pulled down, put away and dragged to the curb by December 28th. Any later and I get panicky and claustrophobic in the same way I feel when stuck in a too small shirt, arms trapped over head, in the dressing room at Nordstrom Rack.
My family’s holiday season is a three months long event gauntlet that includes six birthdays, Halloween, our anniversary, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s.
I promised myself I would be more celebratory this year. I lightheartedly blew through the three October birthdays, one including a team sleepover and another a weekend trip to Miami. I even sailed through hosting Thanksgiving for twenty-seven.
But as the girls opened the first day on their advent calendars, the bah humbugs took hold. I do not have a history of tortured childhood Christmases. My mom had Christmas down. The beauty she created for us was nurturing and serene.
When the kids arrived, Christmas became the vehicle for the mean girl in my head. She speaks in oughts and shoulds, through a perfectly lip-glossed mouth. Her cheerfully condescending tone swirls doubt around my resolve for a simple celebration.
I stayed the course with my holiday convictions, but it wasn’t comfortable nor relaxing. The 26th felt like one long, lovely, liberating exhale. With the tree to the street and the mean girl silenced, I can finally plan for my favorite day of the year, January 1st.
To Love January by Davi Walders
I clasp January to me giddy
with hope for its newborn
cry that clears away the worn
out year like so much tinsel
carted off to storage. I love
January’s uncluttered room, its
freshly laundered calendar innocent
and white beneath a pure blue sky
grazed by bone-clean trees. To love
January is an acquired taste,
like learning to let the tongue
curl around the slow, sweet burn
Of Tuaca’s golden fire.
I do not want to wait for April
to fall in love, July to run with
a salty sea, October to be crowned
in color. I want to drink it all
in now when everything is possible
and I and the world are infants again
babbling, listening for birdsong.