We recently took down our Christmas tree. It was overdue, since it never held water well and had dried out even before the holidays. My husband and I took the ornaments and lights off one evening after our boys were in bed. My oldest son, James, came down the next morning and when he saw the empty tree he gasped, totally devastated.
This post-Christmas disappointment wasn’t new to him. On his first day back to school we passed by a house that all of December had a yard full of inflatable decorations that he absolutely adored. Even on non-school days he would request we drive that way just so he could see this house. But now the yard was empty and my little 4-year-old was as deflated as those lawn decorations. My heart wanted to break hearing him mutter, “I’m really gonna miss that big Santa in the helicopter.”
I vividly remember as a kid the weeks after Christmas feeling so anticlimactic. Even though we always had wonderful gifts and new toys to play with, there was just something sad about it all being over. But now, as a mommy, my instinct is to try and not let my kids feel that way. I’ve been so quick to say things like “Well yes, it’s sad Christmas is over but you should feel grateful for your new toys” and “don’t feel sad, all the lights will be back next year.” I’ve even tried to focus on the next holiday. I want so desperately for the magic to not end for them.
I realized the other day, as James was countering every excuse I was making for him not to be sad about Christmas ending, that I’m sad too. I’ve been putting off un-decorating because I absolutely love how my house looks when all decorated, so bright and cheerful. I’ve seen so many Facebook posts about the joy people get from putting all their decorations away and having their house “back to normal.” Being a bit of an OCD clean freak, I can empathize, mostly.
But I also understand why my kids are sad as they see the decorations disappear, and instead of trying to fix that, I’ve decided that sometimes misery loves company. I told them that it made me sad too, and that I wished it could be Christmas year round. They smiled, agreed with me, and then ran off to play with their new Thor and Ironman action figures. I wish I could move on as easily as they do. Then again, they don’t have to hike up and down to the attic six times to store away all that “magic” till next year.
Mandy Watts is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Crownsville with her husband, Justin, who runs their family business, and their two sons, 4-year-old James and 2-year-old Luke.