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My second favourite time of the year…

…is when the Christmas season is over. And for me that happens January 1st, New Year’s Day.

For many years now it has been my tradition to take down the tree and restore my living room on the first of the year, much to my mother’s everlasting disappointment.

“Christmas isn’t over until the Feast of the Epiphany, when the wise men brought their gifts to the Baby Jesus, and that’s January 6th,” she would remind me when I’d mention I’d already packed the tree away.

“Yeah but I’m celebrating the feast of the even wiser wise men who found a shortcut to the manger, arrived New Year’s Day, dropped off the loot, shared a glass of nog with the happy family, then hitched up their dog team and hied themselves away!”

There’d be a long moment of silence on the other end of the phone. Then –

“I’m sorry, I must have the wrong number…”

Mama did try, she did.

Yesterday it took me two hours to strip the tree, disassemble it, and pack it in the trunks with all the other decorations. Then another hour to dust the living room and sweep, vacuum, and steam clean the living room floor. Not a year goes by that I don’t wash the living room floor.

Fess up. You just went back and read that last sentence again, didn’t cha?

OK, I DO wash the living room floor more than once a year, but actually move the furniture kind of washing, yeah, that happens once every 365 days. Don’t judge me. I’m sure if I came over to your place I’d find some skeletons in your neatly arranged, ever so pristine closets…even if I had to plant some there myself.

And I had a revelation (one might even say an ‘epiphany’) on this year’s cleaning spree. Last July there was a two week spate where it rained every day. Not all day long, mind you, but every, single, day. The result of all this moisture was a pretty nasty infestation of earwigs – of all insects the ones I hate the most! For two or three days, every time we went out the back door, the step was just covered with them. And a few did make it into the house (one even ending up in the washing machine – don’t ask me how), but I had thought I and The Mister had dispatched them all to their heavenly reward.

Until I moved the couch.

“Pa,” I said, turning off the vacuum, “you remember that earwig problem we had last summer?”


“Remember how we thought we’d killed all the little critters that got into the house?”


“Well, I think I found the place where some of them came to live out their final days.” And I pointed to the freshly uncovered floor.

“Mercy!” he said. “We’ve been sitting on that all this time?”

“Well, indirectly I guess.”

He turned to look at me.

“Kinda makes your butt itch, don’t it?”

“No it doesn’t! Well. It does now! Thanks Pa!”

“Don’t mention it.”

“Wish I hadn’t.”

And isn’t that what New Year’s Day is all about? No, not itchy butts. Rather a time to start over with everything fresh and new.

And steam cleaned.

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  1. Chris Bennett
    Posted January 7, 2014 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    Penny, I’ve had mom and the tree taking down event the day after Epiphany in my mind this week. I was explaining the whole process to Christopher the other day and his eyes just sort of glazed over. My other memory of that event, is that despite watering the tree every day, when dad would drag it out there were always more needles on the floor than left on the tree. That is why, I have always had an artifical tree. This year, because Christmas was such an non-event because I was sick, I am finding it very hard to take down the tree and decorations. Part of what I love about Christmas is the lights and decorations! So I’m taking my decorations down a room at a time but the tree and the decorations in the livingroom and dining room are still in place. Will get them put away eventually, but I’m in no hurry. A bit unsettling finding dead earwigs in your living room. There is a lot to be said for a big clean once a year! Gus

    • Penny-Anne
      Posted January 8, 2014 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

      Ah no, let the joys of the Christmas season live in your heart a while longer. I do remember the pine needles everywhere, but oh gosh! it smelled so good! Ghosts of Christmases past…

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