It's as instantaneous and overwhelming as a fever breaking. Right around 3:00 December 25, I am completely finished with the holidays. Even this year, with Hanukkah lasting until December 28, I have lost all interest in the holiday spirit. There's still a few parties to attend, and of course New Year's Eve, but even the lure of half off gift wrap won't get me into a store this week.
The same thing happens every year, and yet every year it surprises me. Just a few days ago, I was happily listening to the Michael Buble' Christmas album over and over, and now the thought of any Christmas music at all is enough to make me cringe. I am ready to put all of the holiday decorations away, but I'm forcing myself to wait until after the new year, just as I always do. The greeting cards that come this week will be sad afterthoughts, and anything jingling or ring-ting-ting - aling will be immediately silenced.
I understand the bah humbug attitude that many have from the day after Thanksgiving on - but I get a thrill out of all of the merriment and festivities. I love the shopping, wrapping, shipping and decorating. It's the only time of the year I can indulge my desire to bake without being looked at suspiciously - who wants cookies or cakes lying around the house? If you're having a gift exchange, I'm your girl - there's nothing that delights me more than watching people open gifts, and those cheesy swaps where you can swipe someone else's package from them are hugely entertaining to me - don't ask me why. I love a good cookie party, looking at the lights on the homes in my neighborhood, hearing my husband whistling carols all month long. But on December 25, this all comes to a screeching halt. No more whistling, no more baking, no more shopping or shipping or wrapping or gifting. I am done. There's nothing that makes me want to scream more than holiday lights after January 1. Get to it people! It's a new year - time to take down the lights and move on.
I suppose some of this comes from over-saturation, but there's also the post-holiday deflation that comes every year - the family get-togethers that are a little less than perfect (well, that's to be expected), the too many calories eaten, the too few perfect moments shared, no matter how we prepare for them. It's the soul-suckiness of plane flights and airports. What is it about the holidays that brings out the best - and the worst - in so many people? Is there something in the peppermints that elevates our moods? Are those lights playing tricks on our brains? Maybe its too much chocolate...or not enough. Whatever it is that fills us with good will and love is probably the same thing that brings me crashing down to earth mid-day each Christmas - too much, too many, too close together. It's looking around and seeing everyone a little older, a little wiser. It's the kids all grown up and wanting to sleep in on Christmas morning instead of scrambling to the tree at 6 a.m. It's the miles and months between visits, making the holidays at first awkward and then exhausting, with a lot of good moments thrown in. It's missing those who aren't with us anymore, who leave a hole for as long as we love them. It's wishing for more, wanting less, giving too much, getting more than we asked for, or less than we'd hoped.
The holidays, which ever you celebrate (and our family celebrates them all), are filled with meaning, memories and emotions. I crash on December 25 from an overload of them all. And yet, next year I'll be ready to celebrate again - because without the holidays, when would I get to listen to Christmas carols?
Sharon Greenthal emptyhousefullmind.com
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