How Long Is Too Long?

I don’t know who needs to hear this, but take down your decorations, like, yesterday

Jayde Atchison (She/her) // Opinions Editor
Jason Low // Illustrator

There are only three types of winter-holiday-celebrating people: those that allow their decorations to linger well into the new year, those that tear down the lights and tree with fervor the instant all the gifts are unwrapped on Christmas morning, and those that live in a rational, well-timed universe and have perfectly mastered the post-holiday clean up. 

I was exposed to the former two groups while I was growing up. One of my aunts kept her tree up all year round and it became a running joke in the family. Mind you, she took off the ornaments and lights so it was just a plain, plastic tree sitting pretty in the “good” living room. However, the most memorable Christmas I had was when my mother decided that the most convenient time to celebrate the festive cheer was through taking down the ornaments, deconstructing the tree and unplugging the lights the moment the last present was opened. The clock had barely struck ten in the morning and the only clue that Christmas had entered our house was through the nubs of candy canes hanging from our dropped jaws. 

Neither of these options feel like true Christmas spirit, and the middle ground must be found. There has to be some festive, but practical compromise. The line seems thin and quite gray — but the line most definitely exists. The formula is quite simple — all you need to do is find the perfect moment to not seem like a delayed Scrooge, nor a Christmas in July enthusiast. I love my mother and her no-nonsense cleanliness, but I want to live in a world where Dec. 25 is meant to soak in the coziness of everyone being off work for the day. We might not all live with our family or loved ones, so the days following “The Big Day” should be spent admiring the holiday cheer over beverages of your choice. 

The calendar year wraps up a short six days after Christmas, so it only makes sense to extend the vibes a touch longer and reuse the same lights and pretty decor for a New Year’s Party. Part of me wants to encourage taking down the Christmas decorations on New Year’s Day (while listening to Taylor Swift’s song with the same name) but I know that most people may not be in the best physical or mental state for that level of cleaning. If the late night/drinking folks understand anything, it’s that we may need the extra serotonin boost from the twinkly lights on Jan. 1. 

Once the hangover clears (depending on age, this can be anywhere from 1-5 business days), the decorations should make their way back into their storage units to collect dust for another ten or eleven months — but that’s based on when you feel the Holly Jolly spirit call out to you. 

If your decorations are still catching serious airtime, I think it’s time to throw on an old school anti-establishment playlist on Spotify and commit to removing the holidays from your home. If the lights spoke to you last month, invest in some fairy lights and say it’s for the chic aesthetic, instead of a Kris Kringle one. Trees, lights, cards, presents and fake snow on the windows should be taken down no later than Jan. 7. If you’re in denial about going back to work and missing the festivities for another year, take things down bit by bit instead of going completely cold turkey. Start with the disposing of the dying wreath and work your way up to feeling like a real adult, by storing the lights in a safe container that avoids tangles. Whatever you do, don’t fall into the trap of waiting so long you begin to justify keeping them up because “Christmas is just around the corner…”

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