Thursday, December 15, 2011

Out of sync with the season

Call me old fashioned, but I like to celebrate Christmas at Christmastime, leaving Advent as a season of preparation and waiting.

During my childhood, we put up our tree just a few days before Christmas, often on Christmas Eve. Because, my mother always noted, the 12 Days of Christmas begin on Christmas Day, and end on Epiphany, Jan. 6, the feast honoring the arrival of the Wise Men from the East in Bethlehem. This is the day that the tree is traditionally taken down. This is the English custom, or it used to be, though increasingly things are changing in Britain.

In America, many people put up their trees just after Thanksgiving -- or at least in early December. The trees remain in place until Christmas Day, and are usually taken down soon after. They're either shedding by then or people are ready to move on. Or both.

But I'm just getting started...

And I like doing it my way. I like the anticipation, the building excitement. I like tapping into those Christmas Eve memories from my childhood -- struggling to prop up the tree, rediscovering the angels and the carefully wrapped egg-box bells and the glittery pinecones -- and having it all be fresh and magical and piney-smelling on Christmas morning.

But I've started to wonder lately if it might be time to change. I'm so out of sync with the season. By the time I get ready to enjoy my decorations, everyone else has taken theirs down. My son sees trees in other people's windows and wants us to put up ours, too. And I wonder if I'm selfish to keep to my traditions.

I get tired of being different, it's true. But I don't get tired of being true to myself.

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