The most profound discussion to come out of our family’s Christmas last year was on the topic, “When does the Christmas season really end?” I maintained that the Christmas season was over on the twelfth day of Christmas, and that I had a song to prove it.

“How utterly fantastic!” said our oldest daughter. “Are you going to let a parade of leaping lords, milkmaids, and noisy birds make your decision for you? I vote for the day we take down the decorations and the tree. That is the official end of the Christmas season.”

“You people who live by sight and not by faith,” grumbled our married son who reads deep theological books. “What difference would decorations make? Suppose you were in the catacombs without any decorations? You need to look at these things existentially.”

My wife had patiently waited her turn. “I have two suggestions; take your pick. Christmas is over when the last bill is paid. Or, Christmas is over when you’ve eaten the last cookie and cleaned up all the leftover turkey.”

“Whose god is their belly,” muttered our theologian son under his breath. “Mother, how can you let such gross things as money and food govern your enjoyment of such a wonderful thing as Christmas? It’s almost pagan!”

“A lot you people know about Christmas,” retorted the youngest daughter. “Take it from an expert: when you get tired of your toys, or when they’re all broken, then Christmas is over. When the fun is gone, Christmas is gone.”

“And suppose you don’t get any toys, smarty!” argued her sister. “I haven’t received a toy for Christmas in years. I get adult gifts!”

About that time, we all started talking at once. It probably would have turned into a free-for-all, with everybody throwing tinsel and assorted decorations; but at that point, ...

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