Did you know the date when you decide to take your holiday decorations down says a lot about you? I sure didn’t. I just assumed that folks eventually got around to it. Of course, I’ve been known to make snide comments about people who still have a Christmas tree in their living room and outdoor inflatables littering their yard on Valentine’s Day.
But I had no idea there is what amounts to a de-Christmasing personality profile. Last week, right before New Year’s Eve, I was talking to a group of women and I mentioned that I couldn’t wait to take down all my decorations and was counting the minutes until I could put my Christmas tree out of its misery. (At this point it was jettisoning needles with a vengeance.)
Our family tradition is to keep the tree up until Jan. 1 and then it’s a full-scale purge of Christmas. It can’t just be me who thinks that your house looks twice as big after the Santas, the Snow Villages, the stockings, the extensive collection of vintage pine cones (don’t ask, just feel sorry for me) and North Pole snow globe city is returned to the basement.
Well, as I was expressing my joy of de-Christmasing, I got a stern look from one of the women. Correction on that look. It was stern with a mix of superiority and a wee bit of pious. Yes, her chin was most definitely doing the pious thing. You know, kind of cocked to the side with a tilt. She asked me if I was a Christian. I give her a look that said, “Hey, there idiot” and replied, “Umm, yes, of course, since I’m talking about taking down C-h-r-i-s-t-m-a-s decorations.”
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She snorted back, “Well, I always have to ask because you know a lot of people do the Santa thing, but really aren’t what I would call Christians.”
I rolled my eyes and waited. I knew there was more and indeed there was. I got a lecture about how Christmas lasts until Jan. 6 with the Feast of Epiphany and how all her decorations stay up until then. I joked that at my house the Feast of Epiphany is when my kids go back to school. No one laughed. (Come on, that’s funny? Right?) Instead, Pious Chin gave me a look that one would usually reserve for heretics or people who write checks at the grocery store.
Before I had a chance to defend myself, another woman, with some hipster glasses, butted in with her tale of how she keeps her decorations up until at least the third Sunday after Christmas because of the “historical vagaries” of the birth of Christ.
Oh my, was that a religious throwdown I just heard? On the off chance it was, I was staying put and settling in. This could be getting good. The first couple of seconds it seemed as if nothing was going to happen. I felt duty bound, in the name of theological study, to help the discussion along so I directed a question toward Pious Chin: “So, like does that mean she’s more devout because she keeps her tree up longer?”
Ladies and gentlemen, we have lift-off. Pious Chin informed Hipster Glasses that she didn’t know what she was talking about with the whole “vagaries” comment. Hipster began to give Chin a discourse about Dec. 25. She had me through the winter solstice, but lost me at Gregorian calendar. It was good for a while, the whole tit-for-tat thing. It was like watching a version of Bible Jeopardy. “I’ll take Luke 2:8 for 100 Alex.”
Because I started this chitchat/feud, I wanted to end it before it got any more heated. I figured the best way to do this was to call a truce by complimenting both women on their outstanding biblical knowledge. This did nothing to deter the “conversation.” I was going to have to pull out the heavy artillery.
I went big. I asked about their kids. Specifically, if their children were going to take part in the Duke Talent Identification Program for gifted elementary school students. I didn’t even have a chance to fully enunciate the word gifted before these two were off the Bible and on to test scores. It was a like a WWF cage match. You know, if the wrestlers wore J. Crew and carried iPhones in Lilly Pulitzer floral cases.
I slowly backed away and thanked Jesus (birthday undetermined) that I’m a little bit of an idiot. OK, maybe not an idiot, but let’s just say not much of a deep thinker. That for me it’s just holiday decor, not a treatise on my faith, and this girl can only look at a creepy pine cone collection for so long before it’s got to be boxed up and banished to the basement.