Is it too soon to do it now?

What about now?

How about … now?

Still no?

But …

OK.

But now though?

These are the only thoughts I have in my brain once Christmas is over and all the decorations are still up.

Right now, in fact, I am sitting at the dining room table staring at this wooden German arch intended to hold tiny candles and light up the table on Christmas eve. Underneath the arch, there is a carved wooden scene involving pine trees and woodland animals and Santa and his present-laden sleigh. But looking at it in the clear light of late December, Santa is looking a little hunched and stodgy. And why does he have beady blue eyes? And why does the snowman’s hat look like a World War I helmet? I was so excited to bring it out after Thanksgiving. But now it just seems, well, strange. And, actually, like Santa might have some homicidal tendencies.

I know there is not, after all, anything wrong with this decoration. I know that I am the only thing wrong in this equation. And it prompts me to wonder if I’m the only one who is like this. And what it says about me that I can’t relax enough to continue enjoying something as festive as Christmas decorations. I mean, don’t they, themselves, embody the word “festive?” What is wrong with waiting to put these things away and watching another episode of the Great British Baking Show instead?

Partly, I blame the tree. We always get a real one (this year, two real ones), and by now, no matter how fastidious we were about watering, they look defeated. Their limbs have fallen and their green has faded and the ornaments look like they’re holding on for dear life because, any minute now, their perch could collapse.

So then I think that, really, taking down those ornaments is just for their own good. For their safety, one, and for their mental wellbeing, two. I mean, Mr. Abominable Snowman is tired. Mrs. Gingerbread House is exhausted. Mr. Wooden Violin, well, he’s always high-strung, but he’s on the verge of a mental breakdown. They are begging for a bubble-wrap bed for their long winter’s nap.

Right?

And the stockings. I mean, come on. How must they feel now? Their purpose was noble, but now they don’t even have the hope of holding anything for nearly an entire year. They are physically and mentally deflated. Irrelevant, frankly. I can’t let that go on, can I?

I’m also imagining the house without all of this red. Again, love the color at the end of November, but now, it’s making me feel claustrophobic. I’m longing for snowy whites and icy blues, some nice cool tones to usher in deep winter.

Of course, I say “I’m imagining,” but, if we’re really going to get honest, I’ve been bringing up totes and boxes after I write each of these paragraphs. Even as I’m beating myself up for not being more laid back, I am proving that I am not and never will be. I need to de-decorate with every fiber of my being. Poor Gabrielle isn’t even awake yet, and how will she feel waking up to a Spartan house? But she’ll forgive me. She’ll see the darty look on my face and she’ll know, yeah, stepmum’s losing it again, it’s time to stay out of her way. Actually, she might even say “outta’ because, in witnessing my frenzy, she won’t have time to say, “out of.”

So I’m going to start. God knows all the totes and boxes are now upstairs and just waiting to be filled. I’m not proud of it, I’m not advocating it, but it’s time to strip this house clean of Christmas. It was a good one, merry, even, and I’m thankful, but I’ve got to move on. And welcome winter in all its crisp, white glory.

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