Frumpy Middle-Aged Mom: After Christmas, when do the decorations go away?


Have you ever been at a party and noticed the hosts yawning and checking their watches? Yes, that means you've overstayed your welcome.

But when do Christmas decorations need to go home, back into the cardboard boxes in the garage where they live most of the year?

Some people, like my late mother, start disassembling the tree while the family is still opening presents around it.

"Mom, sit down!" we used to shout, occasionally having to tackle and sit on her to stop her from boxing up the ornaments and rolling up the garlands.

"We're still watching "A Christmas Story" and eating cinnamon rolls! You can wait until the Chinese restaurant scene, at least."

Other people think the decorations should stay up until the gosh-darn wind blows them down, or they catch fire, whichever comes first. I tend to sympathize with this position.

I believe nothing should be taken down until at least after New Year's Day. Preferably Jan. 6, after Three Kings' Day.

But, then, we Fishers don't get around to putting up decorations until we're shamed into it by our neighbors' elaborate lighting displays.

No one on our street goes Clark Griswold Christmas Crazy, but there are a few houses that would make a kid go "Ooh" and "Ahhh."

I was pulling out of the driveway recently when I noticed that the dangling white icicle lights on our neighbors' house had been turned on for the first time this season.

"Look, they put up their lights," I said, stating the obvious to my 17-year-old daughter, Curly Girl, who was riding shotgun in my fabulous vintage 2001 Toyota Corolla.

"Mom, those lights have been up all year long," she retorted. "They just finally turned them on."

I didn't believe her at first, but then she convinced me, proving once again that I have keen powers of observation.

"OK, that's tacky," I told her.

In some cities, you can actually get a ticket for leaving your lights up past a deadline. You generally get 60 to 120 days to leave your holiday decorations up in public, then they must come down.

Our neighbors might leave their dangling lights up all year, but at least they aren't illuminated.

We have one oddball house down the street that has a single strand of colored lights going 365 days a year.

I'm always tempted to knock on the door and ask why, but I don't want to get punched.

Inside the house, it seems anything goes. I've visited numerous otherwise-sane-looking homes over the years where the owners had dusty Christmas trees up in July, which made me resolve to always buy a real tree. I'm lazy, and I knew falling needles would get me to take it down every year.

My kids also demanded a real tree, though they made it hard by refusing to go with me to buy one. There were hamburgers to buy and video games to play and friends to "kick it" with. There were ice cubes that needed to be watched as they melted. All those duties made it impossible to find the time to go tree shopping.

And last year, a new wrinkle emerged – Curly Girl started wheezing and sniffling whenever she got around the tree.

"Mom, I think I'm allergic," she said.

This year, we all intended to get a fresh tree, but again the teens always had more important things to do when it came time to go out and buy it.

Well, Big Lots solved the problem for me when I got the important email about the fake trees going on sale for half price. In the past, by the time I arrived, only the worst rejects were left. But this time, I leapt into the Corolla and sped away _ at least as fast as a 2001 Corolla will go.

An hour later, we had a nice petroleum-based holiday tree in a box for only $40.

It looks pretty darn good, I must say. And no one's sniffling and wheezing around it.

My son, Cheetah Boy, confessed: "I like the fake tree, Mom. No pine needles all over the floor."

And I don't have to water it, either.

Now I just have to make sure I take it down in a timely manner. I figure March is a good deadline to shoot for.

What's yours? Send me a good description with your name and address, and I might use it in a future column.


Marla Jo Fisher was a workaholic before she adopted two foster kids several years ago. Now she juggles work and single parenting, while being exhorted from everywhere to be thinner, smarter, sexier, healthier, more frugal, a better mom, better dressed and a tidier housekeeper. Contact her at Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter @FrumpyMom (c)2015 The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.)