Epiphany. The day we get free of Christmas.
What on earth do I mean by that?
I'm a hanger-on when it comes to Christmas. My tree stays up till mid-January, the lights in the backyard until a mild weekend whenever. The Fontanini nativity sometimes lingers on the bookcase till Ash Wednesday, probably because it's more fun to set it up than to put it away. Every figure belongs in its own separate, original box, and all those boxes, plus the asymmetric stable must then be puzzle-fitted into the larger box labeled "Manger Set."
It takes a long time. I've got 25 human and animal figures, a chicken coop, a couple palm trees, and a dozen pesky "Birds of Bethlehem."
There are shepherds young and old at my manger and musicians. And there are plenty of women--a tall woman shepherd, along with a pregnant midwife, a spinner with a fleece, and other women who are carrying food.
And yes, the three kings are there.
Today, of course, is their day, and they're supposed to enter a house in Bethlehem, not a stable. After a long journey from the east, they discover that the king they seek is not to be found at the court in Jerusalem. Their visit precipitates the killing of infants in Bethlehem, and the family they visit flees to far-off Egypt, living as refugees until it's possible to return to Galilee, if not Judea.
Time to face January, free of the sentimentality of Christmas.
Again, not really sure what I mean by that--or why I look forward to it. Maybe it's as simple as my favorite chair going back to its usual spot in the bay window after the Christmas tree comes down, next to a table where I can stack the books and notebooks and knitting that are currently scattered everywhere else. There's relief in not having to be in a gracious, jolly, holiday mood or seeming to be. Not that it's a bad thing to smile and greet people, to share a cozy fire or admire other people's grandchildren. But it's wearing, it's work. And there are things to be accomplished in 2016.
Happy New Year.