By December 26, I was itching to take down the Christmas tree and pack up the garlands and bows. I have always been amazed when I talk with someone who chooses to keep their Christmas decorations up into January as a way to brighten the dreary, dark days of winter. For me, what seemed cheery on December 1st now seems depressing. The branches on the Christmas tree are drooping so badly that every so often I hear another ornament slide off and hit the floor. Instead of seeing the white lights and ornaments on the branches, what jumps out at me are the cords. I find myself picking pine needles out of the cushions – how they got there I have no idea. Everything looks they way I feel…tired.

Plus, with five adults in a condo meant for three people, one of us was always bumping into the Christmas tree; we need every square inch of floor space in the living room to accommodate the 26 pairs of shoes that are spilling out from the postage stamp-sized entry way.

Another reason I was eager to see the boxes labeled “Xmas nutcrackers and candles” back on the top shelf in the garage was because as much as the holidays represent time to spend with our family, this year some of the glow was taken off the Christmas decorations by the Sandy Hook tragedy and relentless media messages about the seemingly inevitable fiscal cliff. Couldn’t I just put that all that bad news in a box, tape it shut, and set it high on a shelf where I could forget about all of it?

So on Friday morning, I was up before daylight, dismantling the mantel and wrapping up the ornaments in layers of tissue paper.  The news wasn’t getting any better but at least by putting the decorations away, vacuuming up the pine needles, and giving the room some breathing room, it felt like the new year was off to a fresh start. Like the Bible says, God’s mercies are new every morning. I’m ready for a new morning and new year.