“Who put that yellow monstrosity in front of your door? And that tree?! Do you sell firewood these days?” One of the local residents starts laughing uncontrollably at his own joke. Although I try my best not to burst out laughing too, I decide not to give in that easily. “Keep laughing!”, I answer. “You’re just afraid that you won’t win the competition for best decorated street this year,” I conclude resolutely. It soon became clear that not everyone was fond of the Christmas decorations that the municipality had placed in the parking lots in front of our house earlier that day. Only after I had pointed out to several neighbors that we hadn’t put them up, they dared to confess: “What an ugly thing!” Now I don’t want to say that I know anything about tasteful holiday decorations. On the contrary. But anyone who opens a Bed & Breakfast and hopes to receive guests during the holidays won’t be able to avoid it. And if the municipality decides to give us a helping hand, I can have little objection. Tasteful or not.

However, I cannot deny that I am happy that a few weeks have passed and the holidays are over again. I open my phone and scroll through the messages I exchanged with our Spanish neighbor Ruben just before Epiphany last week. In his text he confirms that in Spain people will normally pack up the holiday decorations after the sixth. While I start looking for a box to start packing up the artificial tree we bought a few weeks ago, I glance at the gold spray-painted branches with pine cones that are still attached to the wall here and there. Even I have to admit that Lynn (a good friend who has a house just outside the village and helped us with the decorations) did a great job. It looks beautiful and cozy. Still, after six weeks, I think it is high time to pack everything up again.

While I carefully try to unwind the strings of lights that we had previously wrapped around the branches with great difficulty, I glance outside. I see that the municipality has also started unscrewing the wooden Christmas tree. While the sound of the screwdriver disturbs the serene silence, I put away the last string of lights as neatly as possible. I look at the stack of books and games, laying on the table next to me. Stuff we already owned but had been laying wrapped under the tree for decoration purposes for the past six weeks. The pink and gold wrapping paper, I tore off an hour ago, is still on the floor. When I want to pick up my phone again, this time to check the time, I notice Ruben’s last message. “I hope they bring you lots of gifts and lots of guests!” I can’t help but smile. Lots of gifts? Check. I don’t want to look a gift horse in the mouth. It doesn’t matter that it was all regifted. If the same applies to our guests, I think we’ll be fine. I will be more than happy to welcome all the guests we have already received yet again. Every single one of them. But hopefully I won’t have to wait for Melchior, Gaspar or Baltasar to deliver them personally to us. Because I simply can’t and don’t want to wait that long.