The Mom's Beat: That one holiday decoration that stays up

This year, however, I am embarrassed to admit that I have left one Christmas decoration up all year, breaking my own code for the first time ever. But I just can’t bring myself to take it down.

It’s the holiday decorating season again, and typically I am a stickler for the schedule.

Halloween decorations get traded out for Thanksgiving pieces on Nov. 1, and the day after Thanksgiving we always pull out the Christmas decorations.

A part of me keeps to the schedule to get in the appropriate holiday spirit, but mostly it’s because it feels like starting a new project.

I’ve never understood why some people keep their Nativity scene on the lawn through March. I get that “undecorating” is tedious work; that’s why I try to get it over with as quickly as possible.

It’s like the excitement of packing for a trip, compared with the drudgery of unpacking it all afterward: I never enjoy putting away the decorations, but I slog through it so I can get the new, fresh stuff down from the attic.

This year, however, I broke my own code for the first time and left one Christmas decoration up. I just can’t bring myself to take it down.

It’s one of those free artsy pages that you can print out and place in a frame. It’s a holiday message surrounded by a muted green chevron or some other trendy pattern that is above my style consciousness level.

I had a few different framed messages displayed for the other holidays, but those came down the day after the holiday, along with the rest of the décor.

Yet this one item has survived month after month. I have walked by and picked it up a few times since January, but each time the message still speaks to me. So it got a reprieve and stayed on the shelf to live another day. As recently as this Friday, I looked at it as we left to attend a high school football game.

About midway through the third quarter of the game when the hometown team had scored a touchdown, my son turned to me and asked seemingly out of nowhere what would happen if someone from the other team pulled out a gun and shot at our side of the bleachers.

Of course I told him that such a thing would never happen, that they don’t let people bring things like that football games.

I felt like a liar.

No one checked my big bag at the gate, despite a sign that said “No backpacks allowed.”

On the ride home from the game, I read a news report online about a man who entered a Macy’s near Seattle and shot and killed four people – now five – in the cosmetics department. He seemingly just went in and randomly shot people.

This was in addition to the news of a loaded gun found at a high school in our area that afternoon and a report of a carjacking at a local Walmart a few hours later.

Those fresh news stories mixed in my brain with the knowledge of a local police officer who was shot in the head in the line of duty, the unrest in other cities over police-involved fatal shootings, and of Ahmad Rahami, the alleged bomber who placed a series of explosive devices around New York and New Jersey earlier in the week.

When my children are around, I only read news online – something I have done since they became old enough to understand the words of newscasters. So this latest shooting, as well as all the other recent violent news, was not presented to him. But kids absorb things from conversations. Their ears are always tuned in to the things adults whisper.

As grownups, we all know that my son’s fear is valid. Sadly, a shooting is a possibility nearly anywhere you go these days. But my boy is 8, and I don’t want him to know that yet, because the realities of our world are scary, and their cumulative effect can be frightening even to adults.

I would rather have my children see the good in the world, and in the people around them.

I want them to experience, and to know in their hearts, what that clichéd, out-of-season framed sign in our home says:

“Peace on Earth.”

Laura Stetser is a full-time reporter and mother of two school-age children. Get more parenting news by connecting with her on social media @TheMomsBeat @LauraStetserReporter or via email at laura.stetser@catamaranmedia.com. Read more of The Mom’s Beat on shorenewstoday.com.

Laura Stetser is a full-time reporter and mother of two school-age children. Get more parenting news by connecting with her on social media @TheMomsBeat @LauraStetserReporter or via email at laura.stetser@catamaranmedia.com.

Read more of The Mom's Beat on shorenewstoday.com.

Staff writer Laura Stetser covers Egg Harbor Township and writes the weekly column The Mom's Beat. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @EHTCurrent, @LauraStetser and @TheMomsBeat.