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MARTHA SEZ: ‘The memories the ornaments called up made me sad’

January 11, 2019
By MARTHA ALLEN , Lake Placid News

Invention has its own algorithm: genius, obsession, serendipity, and epiphany in some unknowable combination. How can you put that in a bottle? -Malcolm Gladwell, "New Yorker," May 12, 2008

Yesterday, Jan. 6, was Epiphany. I wouldn't have known this if it weren't for a local storekeeper asking me, "Wait-when is Epiphany?" I'm a trained librarian. I looked it up. All right, I Googled it.

Epiphany, or Twelfth Day, is a Christian feast day, commemorating the sudden spiritual revelation of the Magi-the three kings-that the Christ was born. Bearing gifts, they traveled afar, following yonder star. You know the song. That wasn't what the storekeeper was talking about, though.

According to retail tradition, Epiphany, 12 days after Christmas, is the date when all specifically Christmas, or, if you prefer, "holiday" decoration and merchandise must be cleared from the place of business. I think this makes sense. By the time the great holiday season is over, we are so over it.

I took down my Christmas tree before New Year's Day. It was already dry and brittle, even though I was good about keeping water in its stand.

This was the first real tree I'd had in several years. I bought it hoping to inspire myself with Christmas spirit. It was a beautiful balsam fir, full and symmetrical, one of the smallest in the lot. After it was delivered to my house and I had carried it up the stairs, I saw that it was much larger than it had looked out of doors. I'd never had a Christmas tree that fit so well into its stand or stood so straight, not tipping or requiring wires and other restraints to keep it vertical. I had bubble lights, my favorite. Each ornament was special, reminding me of times and places and people I loved.

Christmas spirit is a kind of epiphany, transporting a person into a state of grace. A person infused with Christmas spirit radiates kindness, generosity, good will and cheer. The tree wasn't doing it.

The tree loomed over my living room. The lights were intrusive. The memories the ornaments called up made me sad. I think you need other people, especially children, to really get into the spirit. I finally eased into that state of grace when I spent Christmas Day with good friends.

An epiphany is a sudden intuitive illumination or perception of a natural or spiritual truth, as illustrated by the electric light bulb turning on in a bubble over a cartoon character's head. Felix the Cat was the first animated character to show that an idea had occurred to him by means of an overhead light bulb.

Felix the Cat preceded Mickey Mouse. I just Googled that.

By bringing Felix the Cat and cartoon light bulbs into the discussion, I do not mean to minimize the importance, the excitement, the clarity and brilliance of epiphany, whether the realization is spiritual, scientific, political or social.

By the time I dragged my Christmas tree out of the house, arboreal rigor mortis had set in, making it difficult to pull down stairs and through doorways. Finally it would give way, springing forward and spraying twigs and needles. There are still fir needles in every corner of my apartment. Like glitter, they are impossible to eradicate completely.

I would welcome an epiphany right now, as I go slipping and slogging and sliding and skidding through the sleet in this otherwise mindnumbing season. Alliteration is all I've got. That and Google.

In the North Country, it remains dark and frigid for a very long time after New Year's Day, and people are apt to leave their lights up after Twelfth Day, well into March, at least. After the presents have been unwrapped and all of the cookies are eaten it can get pretty desolate here. Luckily, we have a celestial schedule of lunar events coming up.

The Jan. 21 full moon will be a super moon with a total lunar eclipse. It will be the first in a series of three full supermoons on Jan. 21, Feb. 19 and March 21. The Feb. 19 full moon will be the closest to earth and the largest full supermoon of the year.

Epiphany has several meanings. 1. The perception of a spiritual manifestation. 2. That eureka moment when everything comes together. 3. The official day for taking down Christmas decorations. 4. A feast day that you probably missed. Oh well, there's always next year!

Have a good week.



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