There are so many families taking down their Christmas decorations as I write this, and my logical and efficient brain tells me I should be doing the same thing. Here’s the thing, it has been snowing non-stop here in Berlin since yesterday, it is dark and cold, and the Christmas decorations and candles offer such calm and joy. For my own sanity, why on earth would I want to divest myself of a passage to serenity?
My excuse is that my mother never took down the decorations before January 6th, I the traditional celebration of Three Kings before the Vatican moved it to the first Sunday of January and renamed it the Feast of the Epiphany. The tradition stuck with me though and in my heart and spirit, Christmas doesn’t end until the Three Kings arrive. I have fond memories of Mommy preparing gifts for me on January 6th while I was a child growing up in Mexico. The tradition there was that all the children received their toys on Three Kings instead of Christmas.
We are all reluctant to change, especially when it is a source of comfort and joy. Yet, without the discomfort and sometimes pain of change there can be no growth. This was never so clear to us as individuals, family units and communities than in 2020. We all went through great discomfort and were forced to stare change in the face, willingly or unwillingly. Hopefully we all walked away with renewed determination to re-build.
While writing this and watching the snow fall, a crow kept going back and forth to the tree in the courtyard. I watch it as it screeched its usual messages to the world, announcing whatever it was he felt obliged to do. There was a certain serenity about him though, and he was in no hurry nor did he flutter about in desperate attempts to get comfortable or warm. He withstood the snow, wind and cold, and if he got bored, he flew around for a few minutes and returned to his branch. This is how the photographs came into being. Though the flock of sparrows that followed would have made much more artistic photographs, it was that solitary crow that spoke to me the most. There was much to be learned from his capacity to remain calm amidst the increasingly uncomfortable surrounding.
Which brings me back to my Christmas lights – yes, I am reluctant to take the beautiful lights down, but that also means it is time indeed to move on and bring in a fresh look in the apartment, a preparation for spring. The streets of Berlin are filled with discarded Christmas trees at the moment, because the collection of the trees will take place this week. Although it looks incredibly sad and melancholic at first glance, it is also a signal to roll up our sleeves and get to work. 2021 is just beginning and there is much to be done.
I love the lights and the tree and the holiday decorations, but I also have come to love the fresh feeling I get when it all comes down and I’m ready to start the new year.