I did something for the first time last week. I took our tree down on the 1st of January. It may have had a wee bit to do with its miserably low needle-count (it seems we neglected to put it in water...), but I’m pretty sure the decision was driven mostly by a desire to beat the back-to-work blues.
With the living room relieved of its last pine needle (at least until the next back-of-the-sofa inspection reveals otherwise, but let’s face it, that’s some way off), I moved swiftly onto Christmas cards, plucking them off kitchen shelves and window sills in a state best described as a frenzy (the only way I know how to clean).
A few sparkly bits and pieces escaped my rampage during a brief moment of calm, my ruthlessness abated. The odd candle, some festive greenery, a string of fairy lights in the corner - these privileged few remained until 12th night, softening the blow, a nod to Christmas not being completely over.
In previous years, I would take down Christmas decorations with a heavy heart - the bare surfaces, ousted furniture reinstated, the glaring absence of twinkling lights, all of it signalling the end of the party, a return to the routine.
This year I felt no such remorse. The extra space was useful, the lack of clutter a thing of beauty! I can’t explain the difference. Is it the stuffocation effect perhaps? Or a need for a little efficiency after days of over indulgence and a general - joyful - lack of domestic chores. How tedious I’ve become! Or is it simply an attitude arguably common to my life stage, a slightly resigned it's-got-to-come-down-at-some-stage-so-it-might-as-well-be-now? (In which case, where does it end? Will I be madly taking stuff down before Christmas itself in another few years, a few more short years before not bothering to decorate at all? Let’s hope not.)
Whatever the reason, the mild yet familiar post-Christmas malaise has yet to surface (though I admit we’re a few days off this year’s official Blue Monday - ask me again next week). The tree will be coming down well before 12th night next Christmas, and it’ll have nothing to do with its inevitable lack of foliage.