As I wrote last year, I mourn the commercialization and hype of Christmas less than I mourn its lopsided timeframe. Our culture treats December 25th as a culmination and grand finale, rather than as the beginning of a 12-day holiday. My heart breaks on the 26th when I see Christmas trees on the curb, can no longer find Christmas music on the radio, and malls and roadways and Starbucks are once again full of distracted, rushing people focused on to-do lists rather than continued celebration. I realize that many people have no choice but to return to work the day after Christmas, and also understand that most of us are feeling a little overfull of food, guests, and gifts by the 26th. But I wish we could sustain some of that sacred Christmas hush beyond midnight on the 25th.
Such sustaining is unlikely to happen in our wider culture, but I try to encourage it in my own household. It helps that my husband’s workplace essentially closes down from Christmas Eve through New Year’s. And we also have a tradition related to the nativity scene above, which my parents bought for us when they were living in Italy back in 2000. We keep an Italian tradition of having the three kings journey to the manger, starting on Christmas Day and getting there on the twelfth day of Christmas, or Epiphany (which is today). Some time on Christmas Day, the kings show up somewhere upstairs. For the next twelve days, they journey through the house, and the kids look for them each day. They might take up residence in the K-cup holder on our kitchen counter, or take a rest in our dollhouse. Finally, on January 6, they get to the holy family, where they linger for a few more days, our nativity the last Christmas decoration to be eventually packed away.
What do you do to carry your Christmas celebrations through the full twelve days?