Bet you are thinking this is going to be about what to do with leftover turkey, ham, sweet potatoes and that oh so smooth chiffon punkin’ cheese cake. But although we could create a pile of talk about the mountains of extra luscious holiday green bean casserole and the stuffing we have stuffed ourselves with, my brain is taking another route. It’s still about Christmas though…

I’m thinking about when to take the tree down?

While sleigh bells and the silence of the night are still echoing in my brain, i.e. December 26th, I start to eye the tree as something that has worn out its welcome in my living space. I have, I admit, taken down a tree or two on the afternoon of the 25th. Yes, yes I know that’s pushing it just a bit. But to my favor, I once placed our de-Christmas-ized tree in the stand out on the front lawn because it was still green and it stood sentry in front of our home for like three weeks past Christmas. Of course it was a really snowy winter and at the first sight of a January thaw the tree of Christmas past made its way to the tree graveyard.

Now, maybe the timing of taking down the tree might have a lot to do with when it goes up. Several people I know put up the tree at Thanksgiving. They might have family and friends coming for that holiday and a tree in the middle of living room would add such flare to 16 people in an 8 person front room that is also fitted with a big piece of plywood covering a make shift dining room table to accommodate everyone at once. What fun!

I do not put up our tree until I can see the end of December looming in the foreground. Which usually is around the 18th. When we did put up a live tree, around the 18th was just enough time for the water in the stand to dry up so I could get it all back out of the house without spilling water and pitch and needles on the carpet.

But now we have the nicest evergreen “tree in a box” that goes up in a flash without so much as a whiff of chainsaw oil in the house to cut about ten inches off the darn thing that didn’t look that big out in the wilds! Been there, done that! No, we have succumbed to a plastic—but realistic looking tree—lights included. I do hum about the little drummer boy and his journey as I plug in our instant tree. Hey, I am all about traditions and the true reason for the season.

It seems that when I was younger trees would stay up in a few homes until after the New Year was ushered in. I remember babysitting for a couple who covered their entire tree with angel hair. But by the time I sat with their off spring while the parents rang in the New Year the hair of the angels was a bit tattered and torn. So if you are keeping a tree up until after the New Year remember to freshen it up a bit—like you would if it were an old aunt who couldn’t take care of herself. Fluff her up and freshen up her make-up—uh ornamentation.

Those families where both parents work usually have all holiday decorations put away before the kids go back to school. The bloom, as it were, is off the rose and although not spoken out loud, the countdown to summer has begun so any wintertime celebration is but a far memory. Even though it was just a matter of a few hours ago that the tree was the main focus for the family.

But the tree must come down. Baby Jesus is put back in the box along with garland and candles with cute little wax Santas climbing up (or is he sliding down?) the smooth cool sides. I just love those candles. I really should light them huh? Nope, back in the box ‘till next year.

And finally the tree is unplugged and dismantled. Taken to the curbside, put in the box or cut up for future firewood. Christmas treasured ornaments boxed in the Christmas decoration boxes and put back in the assigned Christmas box spot in the attic or garage or wherever your designated Christmas decoration box place is. Vacuum cleaner comes out and the last of Christmas is sucked up into a bag and disposed of. Finally the furniture is rearranged back into its comfortable places and all is right with the world again.

But trust me on this, even though Christmas is out of sight and the January bills come due faster than anticipated, there is still a glow glowing in us. Memories of colored lights, pine scent, baby’s first Christmas ornament and the Christmas tree. And those are the best leftovers of the Christmas season.

Trina lives in Eureka. Her book ITY BITS is on Kindle. Share with her at itybytrina@yahoo.com