We’re all pretty much on the same page about the appropriate time to put up and decorate a Christmas tree, right? Common convention says it’s after Thanksgiving, probably sometime during the first week of December, around the time Mariah inevitably goes No. 1 (again). If you’re going to actually be a Christian about the Christian holiday celebrating Christ, you’d put the tree up at the beginning of Advent, or the fourth Sunday before Christmas. Some yuletide freaks get overzealous and opt to put their tree up even earlier. Whatever slides your sleigh.
People tend to get a lot more carefree when it comes to taking the Christmas tree down, though. Make no mistake, the name evergreen is a misnomer. There’s a brief window of just a few weeks where I’ll accept seeing lit trees peeking from behind your curtains.
In January, The Atlantic published an essay that made a case for keeping that big green thing up beyond MLK Day, past Valentine’s Day, and well into the spring months. That is insanity. Just take the damn tree down.
Undressing a tree is not a fun activity. I know and fully understand this. You’re probably gonna have to deal with things breaking while you’re shoving stuff inside boxes they miraculously don’t fit anymore. The activity usually takes a lot less time, but somehow makes you more tired(?). Do you even want to do anything else with the rest of your day or night after putting away chipped ornaments and sweeping up a ton of pine tree needles? Probably not.
Stowing away a Christmas tree (or dumping it in a giant trash bag like you're in the mafia) is not as fun as erecting it. Not even close. It’s the exact opposite: an unfun chore. Still, chores need to get done. Take the tree down in a timely fashion, this year and the next, and into perpetuity. If you’re adhering to religion, that date should fall on the Epiphany, when the Three Kings brought gifts to a sweet eight-pound six-ounce baby Jesus. That day is Jan. 6, but honestly, any day within the first week and a half of the year works for these purposes. After that, you’re getting into Christmas weirdo territory or just delaying an inevitable task that sucks. That goes double for those with a once-living tree that will become an increasingly stiff and brittle skeleton the longer you keep it.
I don’t know who needs to hear this, but consider this a PSA: Take down that tree. And do it when you’re supposed to. Otherwise, I’m calling the mean one, Mister Grinch, to come do it for you—and traumatize your children in the process.