Farewell to Christmas 2007

TreeMatt2I have to admit that I opened up the Washington Post snark section today and my little Christmas-loving heart took a leap. There I saw a news feature by reporter Monica Hesse that began like this:

Suddenly, there are Christmas trees lining 11th Street NW and the holidays are over. Yesterday afternoon there was just the one on this stretch in Columbia Heights, a Douglas fir in front of a brick rowhouse, upright in a metal tree stand, looking reproachful.

Now, 55 minutes before sunrise on a January morning, the dim sidewalk is lined with blue spruces, balsam firs, a Scotch pine or two, all lying on the ground in various states of undress.

The residents of the neighborhood might have taken their cues from the first house, looked outside at the Douglas wearing only its shoes and said, “Yep.” It might have been the weather, a sudden unseasonable warmth that made admiring the fire-cast glow of ornaments a silly — bizarre, even — pastime. The window for singing along to Burl Ives has passed; what was in that eggnog, anyway?

The whole point of the story was to ask the question: Why are so many people suddenly taking down their Christmas trees this week and hauling them out to the curb? It provides a list of reasons, some with snark and some without.

Here is the thesis statement:

We wonder where cheery, unified Christmas spirit comes from; the flip side is wondering where it goes to and why, and how we all know it’s time to throw out the trees.

Well, the Matts took down our Christmas tree on the night in question (see photo just taken at our darkened Ferndale curb) and I know why we took it down and I know why we had left it up until now. Faithful GetReligion readers also know that the Divine Mrs. MZ Hemingway knows why people might be taking down their trees right now.

The bottom line: Find Dec. 25 on a calendar. Add 12 days.

Think about it. Can you say “Epiphany” (or “Theophany” in the East)? I knew that you could.

Now, did I seriously think that the snark-masters at the Post Style section were actually going to do a story focusing on the 12 days of Christmas — as in the real 12 days of Christmas season? Am I that naive?

No, I am not. I thought the newspaper was going to publish a feature story about the real reasons — that would be the secular reasons, of course — for all of those trees on the curbs. Then I expected the Post to mention that all of this, of course, has nothing to do with the 12 days of Christmas, since no one observes the true holiday anyway. In other words, I expected cynicism.

What I did not expect was for the reporter to totally ignore the 12 days, since that was such an obvious implication of the timing for the story. Silly me.

Print Friendly

About tmatt

Terry Mattingly directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He writes a weekly column for the Universal Syndicate.

  • http://liturgical-eye.blogspot.com/ Charlie Clauss

    I would feel better about this post, except for the fact that our Christmas tree is STILL up (and we are not Old Calender Orthodox)!

  • http://markkelly.wordpress.com Mark Kelly

    if the reporter doesn’t understand Christmas itself, the chances she will understand the 12 days are abysmal indeed … “what’s that ‘partridge in a pear tree’ song got to do with it anyway?”

  • Martha

    It’s entirely possible they really don’t know, and that it struck the reporter as a great little angle for a post-holidays story: “hey, why *do* we take down the decorations now and not on the 27th? who decided we should do it this week in January?”

    Never underestimate genuine ignorance ;-)

  • Fr John R Blaker

    Actually, in the Catholic Church, the Christmas Season extends to the feast of the Baptism of the Lord (the Sunday after Epiphany). So all our decorations are still up until Sunday afternoon.

  • Chris

    There is another possible, practical, and, alas, non-religion related reason. It may be the “day” the trees are scheduled to be picked up for recycling!

  • Julia

    Along with Fr Blaker, we’ll be taking down our tree on Sunday afternoon.

    This may be a very young reporter who hasn’t even heard the “Twelve Days of Christmas” or thinks it refers to the 12 days BEFORE Christmas Day.

  • http://liturgical-eye.blogspot.com/ Charlie Clauss

    Actually, in the Catholic Church, the Christmas Season extends to the feast of the Baptism of the Lord (the Sunday after Epiphany). So all our decorations are still up until Sunday afternoon.

    That explains why there is a vigil for the first Sunday after Epiphany!

    My education continues…