|An unsheared Christmas tree in New York State circa 1951 displays the natural form of the tree's branches. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
One year in the mid-80's when my parents were living temporarily in the Detroit area and their house in Tennessee was left empty for much of the time; my wife, daughter, and I stayed in that house during our Christmas break between show tours. My parents had come in for Christmas and everything was festive for a week or two, but then my father had to return to his job and the house returned to a state of seeming emptiness. It was that feeling of a houseful of hustle bustle and then all of a sudden everyone is gone and all seems as though the festivities had been a mere illusion.
We left the Christmas tree up in the living room because we liked the way it looked. By the middle of January it seemed odd to have the tree up like that, yet it was like a reminder of the fun we'd all had during the holidays. Since we'd be leaving in mid-February to start rehearsals for the new show, I wanted to somehow cling to that last remnant of being "home" before we embarked on several month of living in motels. Not that I disliked the road life. I liked it a lot. It was just that homey normalcy of being rooted in familiar surroundings that I guess I wanted to hang on to as long as I could.
This limbo feeling of emotions lingering between the excitement of fun activity and getting back into a routine is something I've frequently experienced in life. It might be the aftermath of having people over for dinner, a big party, or visitors from out of town spending the week at wherever I was living at the time. The rush of the festive metamorphosed into the mundane is a bit like day turning into night or coming back to a quiet house after being in a busy environment. The feeling can be relaxing or even lonely depending on ones state of mind.
After a party that I've hosted has ended, I'll usually go around the house cleaning up a bit depending on how tired I am. Maybe I'll leave some music playing, but I might tend to turn down the stereo and play calmer more reflective music--some might even think sad. Or maybe I'll turn on the television if I'm not ready to go to bed yet. Still the socializing can be draining. The seeming emptiness of the house after a houseful of people has departed can be almost a feeling of shock in some ways. Often it's a feeling of relief.
Eventually the trash needs to be taken out. The extra chairs rearranged or put back into storage. The floors might need vacuuming or swept, but that will usually wait until the next day. And if the Christmas tree is still up, well maybe it might stay if it makes me feel better to see it. After all, it's not doing any real harm if it's an artificial tree that's not going to dry up and catch fire or anything. It might look weird if Christmas is long past. Then again it might just become part of the room and I won't even notice it except for the times I look at it and remember the good times gone by.
Have you ever left up holiday decorations well after the holiday has passed? Do guests ever help you clean up after a party or a visit? What is the strangest thing you've ever seen in someone else's house that seemed out of place?