When to get rid of the Christmas tree? In recent years, the thing has contrived to hang around til at least mid January, and I’m pretty sure there was one year when I still hadn’t managed to take it down until around Valentines Day (there came a point, after the tenth of January, when it clearly didn’t matter: the time proper had already passed). Obviously, every single year we get impressed by the corpse of a Christmas tree (still complete with forlorn tinsel) that gets dumped in the gutter at a inconceivably late time in the year. I think I’ve seen trees chucked out in around June, and considering that I’ve also seen supermarkets put out the Christmas crackers and mince pies on display as early as August, it can only be a matter of time before the two time markers pass one another in opposite directions and that there’ll be Christmas products on the shelves long before we’ve managed to get rid of the previous year’s decorations.
What I always feel, every year, and never quite have the energy or heart for, is to get rid of the Christmas tree before New Year’s Eve. This makes a lot of sense: literally, you’re packing up the last of the old year before the new year kicks in. I certainly know of a good few people (mostly those with young kids) who have already packed away the tree just a few days after Christmas. However, there’s also a good argument in letting the tree hang on til at least just after New Year’s Day. After all, it’s still the holiday – even if, thanks to the variances of your job, it isn’t actually a holiday at all.
There is another major psychological reason for getting rid of the Christmas tree as soon as possible. It’s breathing out. It’s clearing the decks. It’s starting again. For about a month, the home has been filled with frippery, glitter, and an inordinate number of people watching Will Ferrell movies. But now it’s time to put away Elfish things, and start again. It’s obviously what New Year Resolutions are all about. Equally obviously, time itself is an entirely arbitrary thing: you could equally commit to some new year resolutions on March 25th, or June 30th, or November 1st (and in fact, there are a good number of arguments for doing exactly that), and I’ve already read enough people warning us to strap in tight, ‘cause 2017 is only going to get worse.
And while time is a construct, and tonight’s switching over to midnight (a whole second later than you may have been expecting) is an entirely arbitrary thing, such things do matter. There really is some sense in marking the end of the year, and hoping the best for the next 365 days (less one second).
Happy New Year. Do that thing. Take up swimming again. Have that coffee with that person you have been meaning to have that coffee with for eight months now. Put the Netflix down occasionally. Don’t feel guilty about binging on the Netflix. Tell that celebrity (or that person you actually know in real life) how important they are before they die. Kiss more. Do a drawing and stick it on the fridge. Read at least a page (of anything) a day. Make some soup. Give up your seat. Remember that you don’t have to give your opinion on someone’s worth on twitter. Let people disagree with you. Make sure you already know who might be a good candidate in four years time. Cheer on your friends. Support your rivals. Don’t interrupt. Take a breath of fresh air. Put something aside for the food bank. Ignore all the above, and do what the hell you want.
Manage to be selfish and generous all at once.
Happy New Year.