There's something both a little sad and a bit exciting about Three Kings Day.
For us it heralds the last of the holidays. It's time to take down the tinder-dry tree we've been barely able to enjoy from all the busyness, and tuck away all the decorations. It's time to sweep up the needles and bits of wrapping paper which have clung to shoes and gotten tracked around. The groaning table with all its now-stale goodies is being steadfastly ignored because it contributed to too much tonnage.
We've had one of two yearly calls from our missionary in Russia. We've seen that he looks healthy and is in good spirits and still seems to be frostbite-free.
The kids have gone home to Texas, taking their children with them. No more playing board games until 1 or 2am. No more figuring out meals for eleven or trying to decide what to do to entertain them all. The well-chewed doorstops are now safely back on the doors. The sticks can go back to being sticks instead of whacking swords.
The groaning school kids went back to Seminary and school today, dragging their backpacks behind them.
Today is sort of a let-down. The silence is potent. I keep looking over my shoulder to see if someone is getting into something and hiding under the table to eat it. There's probably still part of a chewed candy cane under there somewhere that'll need to be chipped off with a chisel.
But Three Kings Day also stands as a gatekeeper for the future. I haven't had time to write much more than a couple of emails to our missionary. I haven't had two minutes to think for a month. It's a time to contemplate the follies and mistakes of the past year, and re-commit myself to goals for 2014.
This has traditionally also been a day when we Burn the Man. Someone makes a man out of (usually) a brown paper bag stuffed with scraps. Then we write on pieces of paper those faults and shortcomings and bad habits we'd like to abandon this year. We either tape the papers to the man's body or stuff them inside. Then we go out to our fire pit (or fireplace if we have one) and toss the man into the flames, watching all our faults go up in sparks.
It's a time of contemplation and commitment to that upward path which leads back to Christ.
So it's time, now, to abandon those roughnesses and mistakes which have tarnished us. It's time to clean the cobwebs out of the corners and make bright the temple of the Lord. It's time to re-commit to the habits of reading the scriptures daily and to quiet contemplation while I walk off those sticky holiday tons.
(And now it's time to figure out why I can't add a picture to this post.)