Just a few days more.

Then I promise to take down the tree, pack up the Christmas decorations, and restore the house to its former, far less festive, self.

I've never waited this long, and went into last weekend fully intending to dismantle the holidays. But I was stopped cold by a single word: Why?

OK, two words: Why now?

The tree still is holding its needles, as long as you don't jostle it too much. And most of the decorations don't say "Christmas" as much as "winter." And we know we have plenty more of that.

What amazes me is how many trees are pitched out onto the snowbanks as soon as the last present is opened. It seems as if Christmas is some holly-bedecked egg timer and when all the sand runs through, it's done. Ho, Ho, Ho'ed.

I still like waking up in the morning and letting the tree's lights glow against the pre-dawn darkness. I like thinking, "There's a tree in my house." I like the decorations we put up this year. My daughter and I brainstormed a bird theme, which thankfully was fairly easy to pull off with some feathered bird ornaments -- they were in all the stores -- and a  wreath of peacock feathers that I scored on clearance.

The decoration that garnered the most compliments was (of course) the simplest one: Seven books, opened at the midpoint and stacked on each other until they magically resembled a house with a peaked roof. I'd seen the idea in a magazine and bought an assortment of used books, solely based on their having a red cover. I think there's an engineering manual underneath the romance novel.

The little house of books makes me smile, and the plaster birds make me believe the real ones will return, and I still like seeing a tree -- a tree! -- in my house.

Still, I will pack it up all up this weekend. The house will look emptier, but also cleaner. I'll toss the last of the peanut brittle. I'll start thumbing through the seed catalogs that arrived with the last delivery of Christmas cards.

But I wonder: Am I the last person in Minnesota to dismantle the holidays?