Spreading Christmas cheer into January

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It’s the middle of January, but Christmas is alive and well at my house. The Christmas trees — one for the living room, another for the basement and one in each bedroom — are fully decorated and aglow with lights. The Nativity remains a fixture in our home, while Christmas villages add a special coziness to the living and dining rooms. The outside of our house is equally festive so that anyone driving by at night will find it glowing with Christmas cheer.

I know we are the exception. I see occasional trees lit up in windows I pass by, but for the most part, Christmas trees have been stripped of their lights and decorations and now line the city boulevards waiting to be taken away. I always feel sad for those trees. Some have the misfortune of being tossed out the day after Christmas, while others might be lucky enough to hang on until New Year’s Day.

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a Christmas song on the radio once the clock strikes mid-night, signifying the end of Christmas Day. In so many areas, Christmas is gone once a new calendar year begins. Of course, retailers are already on to Valentine’s Day and Easter and have been since Dec. 26. Actually, in one store, I saw these holidays competing with Christmas.

I have never understood the urgency of dismantling Christmas so soon after the 25th of December. What’s the hurry, people? Is January that glamorous on its own that it doesn’t need twinkling lights to brighten gray days? Maybe in more tropical areas it is, but not here in the Midwest. Nightfall comes early during this month, begging for a little extra light. Add some snow, and the Christmas lights dazzle even more.

Decorating for Christmas can be a lot of work. For me, it often takes weeks to complete, so I’m certainly not going to turn around and take it all down a few weeks later. Because our trees are artificial, perhaps we can leave them up a little longer than most. I realize a real tree becomes a fire hazard after a while, but even if the tree has to come down, can’t some of the other decor and lights stay up?

I often have more time to sit and appreciate all the decorations after the busyness of the holiday season is behind me. Once the cards are mailed, the gifts are gifted, the cookies are baked and the celebrations are in the past, I have more moments to soak up the beauty of the season. The lights of Christmas can lift a person out of those post-holiday blues.

 Christmas is a season — it’s not just one day — which means saying “Merry Christmas” in January is perfectly acceptable. The Feast of the Three Kings, also known as the Epiphany, is celebrated Jan. 6 on the 12th day of Christmas. The 12 days of Christmas actually begin Dec. 25. Therefore, in the popular carol with the same name, the 12 drummers are drumming in January rather than in December.

I am happy to report that I have noticed Christmas lights lingering longer in recent years. I love looking at people’s light displays. It makes me smile and fills my heart with gladness. Something as simple as Christmas lights can do that. When you hang lights, think of the joy you’re bringing not only to your own family but to others who pass by.

During my Dairy Star travels the first week of January, I was delighted to see beautiful displays of Christmas lights. It’s clear I’m not the only one spreading Christmas cheer into January. While it may be hard to beat the anticipation of the holidays, there is a lot to be loved about what comes after as well.

If Christmas really is the best time of the year, why not make it last a little bit longer?

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