A PSA for the foot-draggers

 Derek Harfield/Flickr

Derek Harfield/Flickr

We’ve got some fairly mild weather coming up in the next week and there’s one thing that all the procrastinators out there simply must do. Take down the Christmas decorations, for pity’s sake.

The groundhog has spoken, Cupid has emptied his Valentine’s Day quiver and a couple billion people have rung in the Chinese Year of the Dog. Mardi Gras revelers have already partied hearty and taken their hangovers to church the morning after.

What are you waiting for? Easter?

Christmas won’t come again for another 313 days unless Julius Caesar himself rises from the tomb to revise the calendar in place since he ruled the known world. You with the browning wreaths, the drooping garland, the sooty red bows and the weary plastic Santas have got to get serious.

As I drive around, I’m still seeing holiday lights sagging from the eaves, wrapped around porch posts and draped along fences. What looked sparkling and fresh at the beginning of December is now frankly tired — and think of what you are doing to those fragile bulbs and electrical connections. Take them down and let them live to play another day.

As for those of you who are still actually lighting your Christmas paraphernalia, what can I say? You’re either deep in a time warp, lost in a second childhood or trapped in the Twilight Zone. Read the following true statement and repeat it to yourself as often as necessary: Christmas is over.

I feel sorry for those Santas, stuck on the lawns and roofs, silly smiles still plastered on their faces. I fantasize about sneaking to their sides to affix a frownie face on each and every one. Don’t you know that Mr. Claus is tapping his toe at the North Pole, wondering when his likenesses will finally achieve their well-deserved rest in the dark and quiet of the basement or garage?

It’s also cruel to leave Baby Jesus out there, lightly clad in nothing more than swaddling clothes, his chubby little knees exposed to the rigors of a northern winter. Throw a parka on that child! And bring the animals inside — or face your penance.

 fakrmage/Flickr

fakrmage/Flickr

The worst offender I've spotted in my travels is a general store in one of the charming old hamlets out Frenchtown way.

Hanging from the second-floor balcony was an evergreen wreath that was not merely dead, but really, most sincerely dead as the coroner of Munchkinland said of the Wicked Witch. I think the bow was formerly red, but I really couldn't be sure.

Beside the front door was a pair of four-foot plastic snowmen, standing drunkenly atilt, no doubt affected by frost heave that had undermined their footing. They were positioned — and I am not making this up — against the backdrop of tattered corn stalks leftover from Thanksgiving. I'm surprised there wasn't a caved-in Jack-o-lantern at their feet. (Maybe there was. I didn't stop to check.)

It's obvious who was tardy about dismantling their fresh-cut Christmas trees since quite a few of them are still kicking around the roadsides.

Alright — you missed the designated pick-up period when your tree would have enjoyed a useful afterlife as chopped municipal mulch. Do everyone a favor and drag it back onto your property. You can cut the branches from spent Christmas trees (providing they still have needles attached) and lay them over your garden beds as protection from the elements.

It's not that I don't sympathize with the desire to prink up the homestead during the dreary days of midwinter, but tawdry old Christmas ornamentia just doesn't make it as we crawl toward spring. May I make a few suggestions for the closet Martha Stewarts who can't bear the unadorned home?

Remove the evergreen wreath before the birds nest in it and hang a generic winter wreath of grapevine or berry branches. No red bows, please. Coordinate embellishments with your house and shutter paint. Cut fresh greens and collect intact pine cones; arrange them at the doorstep in a pair of handsome urns, or use them to fill the empty window boxes. Stash away the "Merry Christmas" plaques, flags and rugs, and go for a timeless message like "Welcome!"

Now you're not hopelessly out of tune, but stylishly seasonal. Your neighbors won't cringe and the kids won't point and laugh. And please take this bulletin in the spirit intended. I'm not scolding the hapless — I'm making a public service announcement.

You’re welcome.