Merry Christmas!! Is it still appropriate to say that on the 12th day? In many countries, children look forward to celebrating Three Kings Day, when they will receive presents and treats from the Kings. Feasts and festivals surround the occasion and often involve the communal packing away of Christmas nativities and decorations. And in some parts of the world, Christmas will be celebrated tomorrow, January 7th. Our Orthodox Christian brethren in Ukraine, Russia, Serbia, and elsewhere follow the old Julian calendar, which is 12 days behind the modern calendar. Thus, their Feast of the Nativity falls on January 7th.
How strange it must be for those Orthodox Christians in the United States, and there are some. I once worked with a guy who took his Christmas vacation just as everyone else in the office was returning from theirs. I suppose one would have to become a really early shopper to plan a successful Orthodox Christmas celebration. Imagine going to Target or Wal-Mart today in search of Christmas gift wrap or ornaments! You might be able to score something at 75% off, but it would be the leftovers. My Target, for example, had only hot pink Christmas lights left. And what about a tree?! The only way to have a real tree would be to put it up at least 2 weeks early, when the tree lots are trying to unload the last of their stock. You could only hope it would last this long without shedding every last needle or bursting into flame.
I’m proud to say that my Christmas tree still stands today. My outdoor Nativity remains lit. In fact, we are the last house on the block with Christmas decorations still fired up, although my cedar garland didn’t make it this long. We got lucky this year. With Christmas and New Year’s Day falling on Sundays, the municipal trash collection schedule permits us to keep our tree these last days of Christmas. Sad as it sounds, we are dictated to by the city waste management, which will only collect discarded Christmas trees on the 2 regular trash pick-up days after Christmas. Miss those and your alternatives are hauling the tree to the landfill yourself or chopping it up into a 4 x 4 pile for pick up with other yard debris. Tyranny, I say!!
That’s the price we pay for living in suburbia. In past years, when we lived on the edge of woods, we would drag our tree into the woods, where it would become part of the natural habitat. We could go the extreme route our neighbors took one year. They held a tree-burning party in the middle of the cul-de-sac. Of course, they were lucky no one called the police of the fire department. You need a permit for that sort of thing, after all.
To any other die-hards out there, a very merry Twelfth Day of Christmas to you and yours!