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Zan Thompson

Thoughts on the 12th Day of Christmas

January 01, 1989|Zan Thompson

Jan. 6, the Feast of the Epiphany. Somehow, epiphany has become a yuppie-relished word, appearing in all sorts of terribly courant magazine and newspaper pieces. What it really is is just friendly old Jan. 6, the day the Wise Men finally made it to Bethlehem with their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh for the Christmas child or the day Mary and Joseph took the baby to the temple to be christened. Depends on which reference book you're using.

The house, everyone's house, looks so pretty with all the Christmas decorations up, I hate to take them down. Of course, I am inclined to overdo it, hanging up every bit of tarnished tinsel and every glass ornament with its backside missing if it's OK from the front.

I cannot understand people who take their trees down the day after Christmas. Whap, everything's back in the boxes and back in the attic, garage or the basement. They run the vacuum cleaner to suck up every offending piece of glitter or fruit cake crumb. Then, clunk, place each conversation piece, each crystal obelisk back in its micro-measured position on the Italian faux tortoise table and the room again looks as if it belonged on Robertson Boulevard. Nice, neat and precise. Only one thing wrong. Not made for people.

I am sure I have friends who think I overshoot the lived-in look. But better that than the precision-arranged rooms with never a pillow unplumped. Those rooms look that way because no on is ever foolhardy enough to walk into them. Thus, they stand forever in their antiseptic arrangements with the bunch of silk flowers and dead twigs in the Orrefors vase undisturbed by any presumptuous breeze.

Where are the books and magazines in these rooms? Either the inhabitants don't read at all or they regard reading as a major vice, to be hidden from friends and neighbors.

I had no intention of getting myself so twanged up just because someone wants to take down the tree the day after Christmas and greet the Tournament of Roses and the bowl football games in an immaculate room. But the best defense is a fast offense and I wanted to get in a brief for those of us who may not get the tree down until next week.

One reason I oppose taking down the holiday decorations is because it is such a lot of work. (It's like coming home from the beach. Everything multiplies. You start across the sand with a towel, a book and a bottle of sun block, and three hours later you're making as many trips across the sand carrying stuff as a troupe of Bedouins moving a whole tent city.)

When I wound that plastic holly around the chains that hold the kitchen light fixture, I must have been out of my mind. Of course, it was early and it was done with determination and precision and 800 itty-bitty wires. It also involves standing on the middle of the kitchen table and offers the risk of absent-mindedly stepping on the drop-leaf part of the table and down will come baby, light fixture and all.

Did you have to exchange anything, or are you one of those twice-blessed who is a perfect size? I don't exchange things because I have thrown the tags away and smashed the boxes flat and taken them to the trash barrels. Thus, I don't know where the smart thing I can't get on came from. So I carefully fold it and wrap it in crumpled tissue and wait for the birthday or some special occasion of someone just that size.

I can't bear to be in stores after Christmas because I see what I have bought for my nearest and dearest marked down to prices that would embarrass a Calcutta street vendor and it makes me surly.

There should be a restriction that forbids stores advertising sales on jewels and cashmere jumpsuits at least until the lady has taken the tags off and put the stuff in her room.

Enjoy your own house until Epiphany. We spend all that time making our own houses as festive as possible and then spend the season rushing to other people's houses.

Have a lovely day today. May your team win Monday and may no one on a tournament float get a drippy nose in the pre-dawn chill.

May this be the year you accomplish something that will make you glow with satisfaction. May you clean out the files, get all the silver polished at once, learn conversational Spanish, see the people you really want to see as well as those you must. May you help the poor old world a little. I intend to sweep my own front stoop, save, stretch and recycle and do better. At least, I'm going to try while the glow of the holidays still warms me like a coal fire in the grate. Happy New Year, everyone.

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