Three weeks out from New Year’s Eve, and at least seven folks have said to me, “Thank God the holidays are over.”
I can sure relate. My stress-o-meter zooms to new heights the week before my family arrives. Between finishing up last minute shopping, worrying about the holiday cards I haven’t yet started (oops), and cleaning our house—my least favorite activity in the world—I’m on overload. And the thing is I even like my family. I don’t have an annoying uncle who drinks too much and wants to know when I’m going to get a “real” job (Writing doesn’t count.) Still, I get stressed to the max.
And yet… I miss the holidays when they’re gone. For one thing, there’s the thrill of getting mail that isn’t a bill or a catalog (not that there aren’t plenty of those). The daily trip to the mailbox suddenly becomes an “event.” Who knows what might be inside? Handwritten cards, letters, and pictures from folks who aren’t trying to sell me anything appear. Receiving them seems different than being messaged on e-mail or Facebook. Someone took the time to send me something I can touch and savor. Somehow, it feels more personal.
Plus, I actually enjoy Christmas shopping and still like going to stores, even when they’re crowded. Any other time of the year, I feel guilty spending hours shopping. After all, I’m a writer with a schedule to keep and pages to produce. But the holidays give me an excuse to take a break and focus on a different mission—finding that perfect gift for a loved one. For me, it’s fun—maybe because it’s like visiting another world I so rarely visit.
Finally, I miss the lights and the yard decorations—even, or maybe especially, the hokiest and most overdone of the bunch. Where I live, the winter nights come quickly, and the biting cold intensifies the gloom that blankets the bare landscape.
I admit it—there’s that part of me that wishes we could keep the lights on and the decorations up through those dark months of January and February. I know it’s not a great idea in terms of conservation. But I sure could use the pick me up.
Of course, I won’t have to wait too long before the holidays come around again. July 4th will be here before we know it. Stores will pull out their Christmas decorations. None of that waiting until after Halloween like the old days. And my neighbors will begin assembling their upcoming holiday lawn décor. I can count on thousands of blinking lights plus a blowup Santa Claus. He’ll be looming over the Virgin Mary hanging out with Jesus in the manger.
I can’t wait.