Every flippin’ year I try not to be happy, not to kick up my heels with glee when the holidays are over, but I am. I’m frickin’ ecstatic and woman enough to admit it. Yes, I’m excited to bring Christmas out of hibernation after Thanksgiving, but with this comes the ominous knowledge of what’s to come. The endless shopping, cooking, cleaning, wrapping, working, reeling, talking, hiding, eating, preparing, driving, returning, and coupon printing, formerly known by our mothers (sexist but true) as coupon clipping.
And my personal favorite, the never-ending lists. Real moms know naughty and nice exist in a virtual world only. Everybody gets something nice, even if what you want to give that lazy-ass-good-for-nothing-cousin is a kick square in the ass. (Can I please say ass? Can I? Please?)
I’m really, really frickin’ happy to put it all away. It’s all I can do not to bring the boxes down and un-Christmas the house right in front of the little whoo’s before the ball drops. I want my life back without the tinsel, pine needles, expired coupons, and oops-I-forgot-to-mail-these-christmas-cards-too weighing down my purse.
I am not the Grinch. I love parties and holidays and time off with the husband and kids. I love bringing Christmas out of the attic and decorating the tree and lights, lights, lights in every nook and cranny of our dark wintertime house. I love the kids searching for their ornaments and arguing over whose is whose and still not too old for the Santa photo and making corn pudding and Grandma’s rolls and wanting their cousins to arrive and laughing at the snoring grandpa on the couch with shrimp tails still stuck in his beard. We’re a freaky, Norman Rockwell family, American style — with the estranged aunt, drunk relatives and silent, brooding teens lurking in the corners. It’s all totally normal, and festive and fun while it lasts, but I want it to be over. NOW.
Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if the marketing didn’t start at Halloween and the doom and gloom over what we didn’t buy forecast the economic apocalypse of American capitalism as we know it. Talk about pressure . . . please the kids, please the in-laws, please the family, now we have to save the country? Is nothing ever good enough?
My funny, smart, rather attractive, real-writer friend is the opposite. She’s depressed before the last package is unwrapped. “It’s over,” she whispers over coffee while her kids play in the background. “Now it’s nothing but snow until March.” Perhaps that’s the other half, but for me, I’m whistling dixie. No more wrapping, no more coupons, no more “final sale,” no more mall or Target or drunk relatives, no more religion-infused dinners. No more guilty pleasures or guilty looks. No more cookies. It’s time to hit the gym, clean the house, and reboot the soul.