Epiphany. The end of Christmas. It's time to begin the undecorating. Although many a Christmas tree already lies by the gutter, awaiting grinding into mulch, hours is still up, still decorated, still lighted.
In our eagerness for the arrival for Christmas — an eagerness that begins these days in October with store displays and Christmas-themed merchandise — we wear out Christmas' welcome by the time Dec. 25 arrives.
Properly celebrated, Christmas begins on Dec. 25, after four Sundays of Advent, as we prepare for the arrival of Christmas, and continues until Jan. 5, the 12th day of Christmas. Then comes Epiphany, celebrating the revelation and recognition of the Messiah. The word Epiphany comes from the Greek word meaning "reveal." Scripture for today celebrates the arrival of the magi, gentiles who would recognize the Christ child as the Jewish messiah.
We all have epiphanies, moments of sudden recognition or insight. These may be "Ah ha" moments or a classic "dope slap" when new insight banishes the former way of thinking.
On this festival of Epiphany, celebrate the recognition of Christ, as Simeon did, as "a light for the gentiles," and also celebrate all of our epiphany moments throughout our lives when we suddenly understand or recognize those things that should have been obvious before.
Today's epiphany for me is that I must begin taking down a month's worth of Christmas decorations and begin those other maintenance tasks that darkness and cold have prevented. The days are getting longer, slowly but surely, and the light grows stronger every day.