Christmas is over - step away from the baubles

The cards. Picture: LJM

The cards. Picture: LJM - Credit: Archant

The Christmas decorations are supposed to be down on Twelfth Night (January 5... maybe 6) - an operation fraught with peril

The trimmings. PIc LJM

The trimmings. PIc LJM - Credit: Archant

Three weeks after the Christmas decorations went up, they’re down again.

It wasn’t always that way. There were times when (before glass baubles and lights) trimmings of mistletoe and greenery were left up for as long as possible to brighten up the dark winter days.

But now we have a cut-off date; Twelfth Night – just before the Christian festival of Epiphany. This is when, it is said, the Magi visited baby Jesus and thus the Christ child was revealed to people beyond the Jewish nation.

There are all sorts of mutterings about what you should do if you do not take the Christmas decorations down by January 6. One edict declares if you miss Twelfth Night you should leave them up until Candlemas Day, February 2. After that then... well, you’ve probably seen what happens in the film, Gremlins. It could lead, allegedly, to all sorts of domestic mayhem; mostly dust.

The wreath. Pic LJM

The wreath. Pic LJM - Credit: Archant

I like to think we are a Christmassy family and so we have the tree, decorated with lights, more than 200 baubles and assorted hanging things (the wooden snowman etc). Then there are the wreaths on doors and windows, the concertina-ed tissue-paper bells, the Nativity scene, the wind up Santa’s workshop that plays We Wish You a Merry Christmas, the garland over the fireplace, and the strings of fairy lights that I have to prevent my husband from attaching to every window frame.

Everything is stored in cardboard boxes in the attic and, at some point the empty boxes have to be brought back down to de-decorate the house.

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While my husband, who is has an element of control freakery about him: “They don’t go in there, Lynne!” etc, is left to do the precision work, I take the cards off the doors. This takes a couple of hours because each one has three blobs of Blu Tack on it. One to keep the card closed and two on the back, sticking it to the door. Once finished, I am left with a large lump of the sticky stuff, which is now slightly sparkly, having come into contact with glitter and a pile of cards.

In the past, some supermarkets have collected Christmas cards for recycling but as this facility diminishes, it is more often up to individuals to recycle. You can, of course, make gift tags for Christmas 2019... if you feel moved to do so.

The tree: Pic LJM

The tree: Pic LJM - Credit: Archant

The immutable laws of taking down decorations include:

n There will be at least one bauble or glass icicle left on the tree when all the other trimmings are put away.

n The string of lights will not go back in the plastic tub from which they emerged.

n Something of sentimental value will break

n Your partner will rearrange all the baubles you have already put away.

n There will be pine “needles” on the floor... even when you have an artificial tree (as I do after the time we bought a real tree and all the needles fell off before Christmas and the time the real tree smelt so awful we had to put it outside).

n A missing box that must be there somewhere.

n Having a pile of AA and AAA batteries removed from strings of lights and various ornaments.

n Sore hands as a result of folding in the branches of an artificial tree.

n Admiring the size of the room now the tree has gone.

n A lively debate about whether Twelfth Night is the 5th or 6th... do you start counting on Christmas Day or the following Day? It’s probably down to when the weekend falls.

What is next? Christmas is over, the crackers and wishbones have been pulled, the festive table linen is washed and put away, all that is left is chocolate, half a Christmas pudding and a lump of stilton.

Roll on pancake day.

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