Leave Up the Tree, Paint Some Eggs, or Carve a Pumpkin. It’s your joy!

It’s the season after Epiphany. We finally toted our Christmas tree down to the basement yesterday. It’s almost February and, I suppose, “past” time to put the Christmas trappings away but we were enjoying it and honestly didn’t have time and had even less energy for it before now.
Before Christmas we observed an annual tradition of going for dinner and a Christmas light tour with friends. They are a pastor-nurse couple with four kids, two in similar age to our own. We get them and they get us and our regular schedules are equally crazy so we make it a point to at least meet annually at Christmas for this outing.
We ended our night at their house for cookies and cocoa and the husband and I were lamenting Christmas number 2 in COVIDtide. We were standing next to their Christmas tree and he said they were considering keeping it up through Epiphany season, all the way to Ash Wednesday.
“It just makes us happy,” he said.
Of course it does. And why shouldn’t they?
I wrote a Christmas card this morning to go in the mail to friends. The number of people I send cards to every year is dwindling as it seems more and more an outdated way of keeping in touch since most of the people I send them to are on social media and “see” me all the time. But there are a handful of people with whom this still is our main contact. And I like it. I like that my list isn’t as long as it once was because I’ve given up on the “I should l send on to…” ideas and have held onto the ones who seem actually to enjoy this practice of bygone days.
These particular friends aren’t particularly religious so send New Years cards instead of Christmas or holiday ones. It’s a lovely thing to get their card in the awful dreariness of January. I couldn’t remember if I had sent them our card this year so picked one up and started to write. I admitted not remembering because…well…do we need such things as “reasons” anymore?
In a more objective mood I take a sociologist’s or anthropologist’s stanch and internally remark on how fascinating it is how people are managing these weird days so differently. There are those for whom COVID has become just an inconvenience and now is simply a part of the fabric of normal life. Then others are in the full throes of it all, feeling just as burdened and frightened as two years ago. Most others are muddling in the middle, struggling to thread between the two by reaching for the hope (or maybe delusion?) that there is such a thing as a “COVID normal” while internally feeling the continued strain of anything-but-normal and the regular stress of ongoing loss.
What I mean to say today, friends, is that maybe it would be better if we let go of it all and left up some Christmas lights or even the whole tree. Maybe we need to send Christmas cards in May and Easter bunnies in September. With everything else that’s off kilter and will stay such for a while, can we let go of the etiquette expectation of propriety when it comes to the things that bring us joy?
This is your invitation to surround yourself with the things that make you smile, the things that make you happy. If it’s the ceramic jack-o-lantern your great aunt Martha painted, then go for it! We need to be surrounded by the trappings and people who make us smile. Maybe I’ll plan an eggnog and caroling party for April and an egg hunt for August. If only I could host a day lounging by the pool today…now that would be real magic, but even my hoping can’t make the weather warmer. I guess for some things, waiting is absolutely necessary.

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