Putting Away Christmas

Putting Away Christmas

It sometimes feels like the end, but it's not.
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It's probably the worst time of the year for those of us who love Christmastime. At least in the days immediately following December 25th, it's still socially acceptable to listen to your favorite Christmas carols, keep your Christmas lights plugged in, and enjoy your tree and decorations.

But, sometime after New Years, the day inevitably comes when the celebration of the Christmas season must give way to the next one. Whether you throw your tree out promptly on January 1st, wait for the official changing of the Christian liturgical season at Epiphany (January 6th), or just take everything down when you have time, there's a definite sadness that accompanies the un-decorating process.

First, there's the sheer amount of work involved in taking everything down and packing it away for next year. It takes time and effort to locate every tiny ornament hidden in the boughs of your Christmas tree, tenderly wrap each fragile figurine in a Nativity set, and untangle the many strands of lights that illuminated your yard all December. We spend hours putting everything away, not to mention vacuuming tree needles and glitter off of the rug.

Once everything is safely stored in the basement or garage, of course, it's guaranteed that we'll find one last decoration that we completely forgot about, meaning that we have to somehow make space for it in one of the already-overstuffed boxes of ornaments and tinsel and lights. It can all be pretty overwhelming.

Christmas teardown is also a reminder of just how much stuff we accumulate, and just how little of it we really need or care about. Now is probably a good time to get rid of some of it so that we'll have less to store, put up, and take down next year, but often in our mourning for the ending of the Christmas season, we find it difficult to part with almost anything. We make mental pacts with ourselves not to buy any more decorations next year, but then immediately break our resolutions when we see the cute little nutcracker ornaments on a great sale a week after Christmas, or when all the new decor begins to appear in stores the following October.

And of course, there's the essential fact that putting away Christmas decorations means the ending of one of the most beautiful, festive, and happy times of the entire year. The decorations in the stores and around town gradually disappear, the number of family gatherings and parties on our calendars begins to dwindle, school and work resume as vacations end. Everyone and everything just seems a bit less jolly as the bleak wintry weather of January sets in.

But even in the face of a long winter devoid of Christmas cheer, there's still hope. There's hope for exciting holidays ahead, like sweet, romantic Valentine's Day or joyous Easter Sunday. There's hope for changes in weather, like potential snowfall and the eventual coming of spring, when the earth will finally come back to life in flowers and birds and trees and EVERYTHING. And for those who celebrate the coming of Christ at Christmas, there's the promise that Immanuel, the presence of God With Us, doesn't go away even when we've put away our manger scenes and stopped listening to O Holy Night.

Before we know it, Christmas will be just around the corner once again, and we'll get to enjoy our favorite holiday traditions and celebrations sooner than we think. Even though lovers of Christmas will never not struggle when Christmastime comes to an end, we can take comfort in the fact that the cycle of the seasons continues, bringing so many other things to enjoy until Christmas comes again.

Cover Image Credit: Olivia Corso

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33 Basic Summer Bucket List Ideas For College Girls That Don't SUCK

27. Stay up all night and watch the sun come up
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The weather is finally getting warmer and summer is just two short months away.

The other day I got my first whiff of food being cooked on the way home and it made me think of all the stuff I want to do this summer and what I want to accomplish in the upcoming months. It also made me think about how I make the same promises to myself every year and don't accomplish half of the things I want. So, this year, I decided to make a summer bucket list. I've heard of people doing this and I always thought it was kind of stupid, but I figure writing it down would motivate me more than just thinking, "That would be a nice thing to do."

So here are some things on my summer bucket list and hopefully they inspire you to go out and have the best summer of your life.

1. Find and do a summer exercise challenge

2. Go on a road trip

3. Visit a water park

4. Make fresh-squeezed lemonade

5. Have a water fight

6. Attend at least one outdoor concert

7. Research and apply to internships

8. Start journaling

9. Sign up for a class

10. Spend an afternoon on a boat

11. Read a new book every month of the summer

12. Eat fried dough

13. Attend a fair

14. Spend the day at a beach

15. Roast a marshmallow and make s’mores

16. Host an awesome summer party

17. Go to a drive-in movie

18. Cook something you never cooked before

19. Have an epic movie marathon with friends

20. Go river tubing

21. Reconnect with friends you haven’t seen in a while

22. Eat lunch on a dock

23. Order a new flavor of ice cream

24. Go bowling

25. Take pictures in a photo booth

26. Go shopping on a boardwalk

27. Stay up all night and watch the sun come up

28. Eat pizza by a pool

29. Do a Pinterest craft

30. Ride a four wheeler

31. Big an epic blanket fort

32. Go to an aquarium

33. Lay in the back of a pickup truck

Cover Image Credit: footsloggers_outdoors//Instagram

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Home For The Holiday: A Short Story (Part 2)

Chloe's story continues.
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She heard the door open and shut and hoped it was her mother coming to apologize

“It's cold out… you might need this” No such luck. Behind her, Ryan stood holding out her coat. It was freezing. Something Chloe hadn't thought about when she stormed out of the house but a thought that hit her as soon as the wind did. She had on a thin tee shirt, a pair of jeans and sneakers. But then again when she dressed to come downstairs she hadn't thought she would be storming out into the cold.

“Look just take the coat okay?” She hoped if she didn't respond the first time he spoke, he’d go away. That way she could follow behind and hide in her room until he left, but when he spoke the second time she knew he wasn't going anywhere. She should just take the coat. Or even turn around and go inside. Either way, she had to turn around and look at him.

And she did slowly. In the short amount of time between her leaving and him following, he had managed to put on a hat, gloves, and a coat. He had a concerned but amused expression on his face that annoyed her. He was probably laughing at her. He would no doubt try to make a joke or small talk. Both of which, she did not want. But because the wind seemed to be pushing her towards him, she found herself heading in his direction and taking the coat from him. She put it on and felt relief, it was fleeting and they really should go inside but she was happy for the shallow warmth.

He watched her the whole time, something she wished he hadn't done. She always left like his eyes could see right through her. Like he knew exactly what she was thinking at all times. She on the other hand never had the slightest clue as to what he was thinking. Especially now.

“You can go back in now.” She said. He seemed surprised she had actually spoken to him

“Aren't you coming?” He replied.

“Yes… I'm just giving you a head start.” This time he laughed.

“You haven't changed a bit... Well, I mean not completely…” Chloe rolled her eyes. Was he seriously trying to flirt with her? “I just meant you look older, not old, just mature.”

“Thank you.”

“But it also proves looks can be deceiving,” he said with a smile. A smile she wanted to slap right off.

“What's that supposed to mean?”

“When a mature adult sees someone they weren't expecting to see they might take a second but then they extend their hand and greet the other adult. Instead, you saw me and hightailed out of the house into the freezing cold like a teenager would have. Seeing as I haven't seen you since we were teenagers naturally I thought you would have had a different response.”

“I'm sorry, I don't remember asking you to follow me.”

“You didn't. Your mom was going to but seeing how it's 17 degrees out here, I insisted.”

“Why are you even here?”

“When it's warmer I'm going to be doing some work around your mother's house and I started shopping for things. I just wanted her input.”

“And it had to be today, huh?”

“You haven't been home in I don't know how long and I was supposed to know that you would choose now to come back? I can't read your mind Chloe. You've always been the biggest mystery to me. All I know is I'm not standing out here begging you to come inside. It's cold and I have to be home in an hour.” He turned to walk away, stopped and looked at her. “It's good to see you by the way.


Chloe was angry. Angry that her mother hadn't immediately warned her that she might see Ryan. Angry that her father had brought him around the corner in the first place. Angry that Ryan could have such a casual conversation with her and could find the nerve to say it was “good to see her”. But more than anything she was mad that she was glad to see him too. That she had replayed the conversation in her brain several times over the past two days. Angry that it was Christmas morning and she couldn't even enjoy it because she was thinking about Ryan.

And his stupid face.

She was standing in the kitchen, sipping a cup of coffee while Christmas music played in the background. Amanda was dancing around the kitchen preparing for the dinner that would happen later that evening and her father was setting up on of the many gadgets he had received for Christmas. She hadn't told her parents she was coming until she arrived on their doorstep just three nights prior. She hadn't planned on going home. She was supposed to be in Florida on a beach, drinking Martinis and enjoying warm weather. Carefree and happy. Instead, she was here, trying not to ruin her mother's cheerful mood. The day before Christmas Eve her mother went out to the store and bought her a few presents. Chloe opened each present not sure what to expect. She received a cookbook, a pair of slippers, and an exercise DVD. She smiled, at least her mother tried.

“I wasn't sure what you would want. When we visited you, you had a lot of exercise equipment and no slippers so I thought…”

“Thanks, mom.”

“I got you the cookbook for my future son-in-law and grandchildren’s sake.” Her father said with a proud expression. There was no point in picking a fight with him today. It was Christmas after all. Instead, Chloe thanked them both and handed them the gifts I had bought for them the day before. Her mother received a new apron and Kitchen Aid mixer and her father got a new cell phone and a FitBit for his walks around the neighborhood.

“Wow, these are some fancy gifts Chloe. They must pay you well.”

“Well, I only had you two to shop for.” Chloe mustered a smile and after they exchanged a look they both hugged and thanked her.

Clark was now connecting his FitBit to his phone and walking around the room, shouting out how many steps he had. Amanda would congratulate everyone as she blended and baked. She wore her new apron with pride and gave me a kiss on the cheek anytime she passed.

They were happy and life was simple. Chloe wondered why she missed that train. Just then her phone rang. She looked at it and immediately excused myself up to her room.

“What?” She answered.

“I wanted to know that you got home safely.”

“I'm fine. Goodbye.”

“Wait, please. Chloe, I know you're mad but you have to understand my predicament.”

“What I understand, Walter, is that you are a coward. I understand that you are a liar, and aside from the fact that we work together… For now anyway… I understand that I don't want to see you again.” she hung up then.

Feeling particularly proud of herself, she walked downstairs to rejoin in the Christmas cheer. Her phone rang again, but she didn't answer it this time. Instead, she turned it off and turned up the radio.

Cover Image Credit: cogdog / Flickr

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