My name is Scott Rochat and I have Decoration Postponement Disorder.
OK, that’s a convenient label to soften the fact that we’ve reached the Martin Luther King weekend and our Christmas tree is still standing tall in the front window in all its decorated, multi-colored glory. All kinds of wonderful excuses could be given – family emergencies, busy schedules, post-Bronco depression – but the fact remains that the First Noel has yet to say the Last Goodbye.
Looking around, though, I’m not exactly alone. Oh, the inflatable Santas in the front yard and reindeer on the roof have mostly gone, but I’ll still turn a corner to find homes proudly lighting the night with strings of color. This has made winter even more exciting for Missy, for whom holiday lights are a MAJOR passion to be pointed out at every turn and indulged in at every opportunity.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that (with apologies to Jerry Seinfeld). In fact, if you visit the right corners of social media, you’ll find a pretty active debate about just when the lights should be taken down and how long is Too Long. There are several distinct camps:
- Right Away – Come Dec.26, or at most, New Year’s Day, and boom, down they go. These are also the folks with immaculate garages and five years of carefully-stored receipts.
- Epiphany — Some of us remember that Christmas is 12 days long (yes, the 12 Days of Christmas starts on the 25th), and decide that the decorations don’t need to come down until Epiphany hits on Jan. 6. Normally our own intended goal, this was postponed this year by a cousin’s sudden Jan. 6 appendectomy. (Yes, sometimes the holidays just keep on giving!)
- Stock Show – In Denver, of course, there’s a grand old tradition that Christmas lights stay up until the end of the National Western Stock Show, which concludes this year on Jan. 21. This has since been enthusiastically adopted by a certain contingent of Coloradans in general. “I’m sorry, hon, but I have to show solidarity with the cowboys. Especially … you know … wossname.”
- Huh? And sometimes objects at rest just tend to remain at rest. When I was a kid, there was one notable year when the rooftop lights didn’t come down until Easter. Alternatively, this can be a conscious choice – I once knew a Kansas police department that kept its tree up year round, but changed the decorations each month to something appropriate, such as hearts for February, flags for July, or black crepe for another Chiefs playoff loss. (OK, maybe not that last one.)
As you might guess by now, I’m not exactly a zealot on the subject. In fact, in a time of dark nights and dark news, I’m not sure it’s a bad thing to keep light shining by any means possible. You could even argue that this time of year, when we remember King’s words and our nation’s struggles toward freedom and equality, is one of the most appropriate times of all:
“…when our nights become darker than a thousand midnights, let us remember that there is a creative force in this universe, working to pull down the gigantic mountains of evil, a power that is able to make a way out of no way and transform dark yesterdays into bright tomorrows.”
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.”
“Trouble is in the land. Confusion all around. … But I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough, can you see the stars.”
Maybe, just maybe, as we keep our rooftops alight, we can remember to do the same for our hearts, our hopes, and our passion for justice.
And if it means enabling my DPD for a few days longer, well, that’s a price I’m willing to pay.