I never thought I would utter these words, but I’m glad Christmas is over. Today, my family put away the tree and the decorations. We moved our furniture back to how we prefer. We packed up Christmas for another year, and it feels great. It feels amazing.
Normally, I dread the end of Christmas. I drag my feet and try to convince my husband to keep up the decorations for a few more days. After all, there are 12 days of Christmas, ending on January 6, the Epiphany (although, if you want to get technical, the last day of Christmas is the Sunday following when the church year returns to ordinary time).
This year, I wanted all traces of Christmas gone by New Year’s. It didn’t happen. My husband’s work schedule meant that the decorations stayed up until today. Part of me feels ungrateful and selfish to want everything gone, but the other part of me feels justified. This year Christmas stressed me to my limits.
From the moment we sold our house and bought the new one in October, we have been busy. We needed to move into our new home and get everything set up. Then, we held a housewarming party followed by Thanksgiving with my parents a few days later. Once my parents left, we decorated our home for the holidays, then prepared to host my husband’s family the weekend before Christmas.
After his family left, my husband returned to work and worked through the holiday. My Christmas day didn’t feel special. It was the same as any other day for me. I did laundry. I cleaned up the house. And, I prepared a Christmas dinner, a roast in my slow cooker. We did not open presents until Chris returned home from work. By that time, my two oldest girls were driving me to drink (FYI-I’m pretty much a teetotaler). I just wanted to find a corner to hide in for the rest of the night. Christmas sucked.
Of course, the holiday didn’t end there. The next day, I loaded up my girls in our minivan and drove 3 hours to St. Louis to celebrate Christmas with my aunts, uncles, and cousins. I couldn’t wait to be with my extended family. I needed to see them and spend time with them. I had a fun time. However, the evening couldn’t end simply. My girls, charged up with energy for staying up later than usual, resisted sleep. They stayed up until 10:15 and woke me at 6:30 (well, the baby woke me sometime in the middle of the night, but that doesn’t count, right?).
We returned home driving through the same nasty rain we arrived in. Who knew that it would turn into a major flooding event for the city? That’s not normal for this time of year. I’m only grateful that we left that morning instead of staying until lunch. Many of the roads I drove on flooded by the afternoon.
The rain brought more work than usual for my husband. In December, if he works overtime, it is due to either a snowstorm or a sick co-worker. Rain? Never before now. At least, not since we’ve been married.
Just three days after returning home from St. Louis, one of my best friends arrived to spend a couple of days with us. She is godmother to my oldest and youngest daughters. We enjoyed spending time with her, but when she left, all I wanted to do was take down every decoration and forget Christmas happened.
Now, as I look around my house, a sense of normalcy has returned. I told Chris that Christmas sucked this year. It was hard. It was too much. Between the move, entertaining others on three occasions, and his overtime, I struggled to find joy in the holiday. I wanted to, desperately, but it wasn’t there this year. The stress had worn me down to survival mode, living day-to-day trying to keep my head above water.
I hope that I was able to convey the magic of Christmas to my girls despite how I felt. And, I think I did. We did have bright moments. My girls loved all the cookies and candies I made. Ginny woke me Christmas morning with an excited whisper, “Mommy, Santa came! He left us lots of presents.” My girls and I even took Chinese food to Chris for lunch on Christmas Day. It was a way we could spend the day together in spite of his work schedule.
All I can do now is look forward to the year to come and tell myself that Christmas will be better next year.