In my young growing up years I never really understood why the public schools and the protestant churches got all decked out and poinsettia clad in early December, but my Catholic church didn't deck out until Christmas day and then left up those trees and poinsettias well into January. I imagine I thought the priests were just slow to put things up and take them down. I don't remember Advent being much of a thing in my family.
But, then information, Catholic information, got out there. As an adult, raising a child, Advent became a real thing to me and I understood that Christmas didn't start until the day of, and then continued well into January ending with the Baptism of the Lord. I made a stab at Jesse trees and Advent candles. I grew up with a manger scene so that tradition continued. I remember leaving up the Christmas tree once until the very end of the Christmas season, and also, some years guiltily taking it down "early."
But, I grew up taking down the tree watching the Rose Parade after church on New Year's Day. This year, that is what we did. We took down the whole thing on January 1st. It felt right. Hubby and I are the only ones here most of the time. We had company Christmas Eve and the Sunday after Christmas, but that was it. We had already enjoyed the tree and we were ready to pack it up and clean up the mess.
I am glad that my church will keep up the decorations and sing Christmas carols well into January. It is the Christmas season. But, I have come to feel that a family must decide what works for them in terms of personal celebrations. The guilt of the perfect Christmas should not force anyone to practice customs that do not have resonance and meaning for them. If I want to pack up the tree before the sound of the last carol dies, then so be it. The prayers in my heart and my love of the Lord have much greater significance than a tree in the corner of the family room.