C. S. Lewis felt that "always winter, never Christmas" would be a sad thing, but so would "always Christmas". (We come closer every year with the extended pre-Christmas sales season.) In a way, I enjoy putting away the trappings of Christmas as much as taking them out in mid-December.
The first task is to put away the ornaments from the tree. So many of them are laden with meaning (see Dec. 15th post) that I enjoy handling each one again as I pack them safely away. Next the lights are untangled, coiled and put away. Now the tree looks plain and out-of-place, so different from the mountain-scented beauty that first stood by our front window. Tim carries it out, leaving a trail of shed needles. We move the furniture back to its usual places and the living room settles into normalcy.
The door wreath is brought in and disassembled, creating more mess. The remaining holiday foods are gradually nibbled away or discarded. I wash and fold the towels and bedding used by departed guests, not resenting any of the cleaning and tidying up. It is part of the changing of the seasons. Just as the sun, reaching the most southerly point of its seasonal journey, stands for the magical moment of Solstice and begins to swing back north, our hearts stand for a few days in the glow of lights, then turn toward the distant but beckoning Spring.