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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PSA: Keep Your Body-Negative Opinions Away From Little Girls This Summer

But our own baggage shouldn't be shoved on to those we surround ourselves with.

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It's officially swimsuit season, y'all.

The temperature is rising, the sun is bright and shining, and a trip to the beach couldn't look more appealing than it does right now. This is the time of year that many of us have been rather impatiently waiting for. It's also the time of year that a lot of us feel our most self-conscious.

I could take the time to remind you that every body is a bikini body. I could type out how everyone is stunning in their own unique way and that no one should feel the need to conform to a certain standard of beauty to feel beautiful, male or female. I could sit here and tell you that the measurement of your waistline is not a reflection of your worth. I completely believe every single one of these things.

Hell, I've shared these exact thoughts more times than I can count. This time around, however, I'm not going to say all these things. Instead, I'm begging you to push your insecurities to the side and fake some confidence in yourself when you're in front of others.

Why?

Because our negative self-image is toxic and contagious and we're spreading this negative thinking on to others.

We're all guilty of this, we're with family or a friend and we make a nasty comment about some aspect of our appearance, not even giving a single thought to the impact our words have on the person with us. You might think that it shouldn't bother them- after all, we're not saying anything bad about them! We're just expressing our feelings about something we dislike about ourselves. While I agree that having conversations about our insecurities and feelings are important for our mental and emotional health, there is a proper and improper way of doing it. An open conversation can leave room for growth, acceptance, understanding, and healing. Making a rude or disheartening remark about yourself is destructive not only to yourself, but it will make the person you are saying these things around question their own self worth or body image by comparing themselves to you.

My little sister thinks she's "fat." She doesn't like how she looks. To use her own words, she thinks she's "too chubby" and that she "looks bad in everything."

She's 12 years old.

Do you want to know why she has this mindset? As her older sister, I failed in leading her by example. There were plenty of times when I was slightly younger, less sure of myself, and far more self-conscious than I am now, that I would look in the mirror and say that I looked too chubby, that my body didn't look good enough, that I wished I could change the size of my legs or stomach.

My little sister had to see the older sibling she looks up to, the big sis she thinks always looks beautiful, say awful and untrue things about herself because her own sense of body image was warped by media, puberty, and comparing herself to others.

My negativity rubbed off onto her and shaped how she looks at herself. I can just imagine her watching me fret over how I look thinking, "If she thinks she's too big, what does that make me?"

It makes me feel sick.

All of us are dealing with our own insecurities. It takes some of us longer than others to view ourselves in a positive, loving light. We're all working on ourselves every day, whether it be mentally, physically, or emotionally. But our own baggage shouldn't be shoved on to those we surround ourselves with, our struggles and insecurities should not form into their own burdens.

Work on yourself in private. Speak kindly of yourself in front of others. Let your positivity, real or not, spread to others instead of the bad feelings we have a bad habit of letting loose.

The little girls of the world don't need your or my negative self-image this summer. Another kid doesn't need to feel worthless because we couldn't be a little more loving to ourselves and a lot more conscious of what we say out loud.

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I'm Keeping My Christmas Tree Up All Winter And There's Nothing You Can Do About It

It's the WINTER Season... ;-)

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I think that my tree would not be considered Christmas-y if the ornaments are taken off and the lights are kept on. I think to just looks wintry. I am also keeping up decorations that say "let it snow", and I am keeping up any snowman without holly berries or presents in their hands.

The tree looks wintry in my opinion. It looks pretty with the lights and brings the room together. It gives off a warm ambiance, unlike that of fluorescent lighting.

I've taken all ornaments off except for gold snowflakes and I've left the silver tinsel garland on as well as the lights. It looks wintry to me still. I will probably be taking the whole tree down by the end of this month to prepare for Valentine's Day decorating. (Yes, I pretty much decorate my apartment for every holiday—sue me).

There's nothing like coming downstairs and seeing those lights sparkling.

Or coming inside from a dreary, rainy day outside and seeing them light up the room in a calm, warm, and comforting glow.

Or having a bad day, looking up, and seeing them shine.

It sort of makes me upset when I come downstairs and see that someone has unplugged them, to be honest.

I guess they don't see it as I do.

Pretty, twinkling lights forever!

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