The preparation for Christmas begins in September for us. We begin making our lists and discussing the budget. We begin figuring out where we will be, home or otherwise. The Hubby decides whether or not he wants time off, while I brace myself for working in retail during the Christmas rush.
Sometime after (Canadian) Thanksgiving, Christmas is momentarily forgotten as we are overwhelmed with Birthday’s and Halloween. At night I run the list of things I need to do to make Christmas “perfect” for my family.I worry that it won’t be enough- enough money, enough time, enough presents, or enough activity. It always feels like I’ll never do enough.
Before we know it, the season is upon us. There are Christmas parties, Holiday concerts, cookie exchanges, family gatherings, Potato’s birthday, and much, much more. We keep busy with nightly activities dedicated to understanding the magic of the season. Santa is visited, and discussions of other celebrations are had. We move our Elf from place to place inspiring a little bit of holiday magic within our home each morning. We greet our friends, and distant family warmly.
The presents are wrapped. Each carefully selected, and wrapped with love. In the background we hear the comforting melodies of Christmas carols, the delightful sound of movies we’ve grown up with, and can now recite by heart. We drink our warm drinks while we watch the snow fall outside our window, and count out the days to Christmas. It seems, for the kids, it can never come fast enough. I always wonder if there is a way to add more hours to the day so I can get all the things done.
The tree is lit, awaiting the stampeding of little excited feet. The presents are placed, the chaos ensues. Toys are splayed all over the house, with the kids bounding from one item to the next. Stockings that were once hung with care, are now discarded as the contents were deliciously removed and enjoyed. Laughter and joy fills the air as the children realize that Santa ate the cookies, and left a note.
With the turkey carved, and stuffing made, we devour our meal, and give thanks for all the many blessings in our lives. We share a toast with our closest friends and family, grateful for another year where we can all meet together and share in our love of one another. We reminisce about those who are no longer with us. The wine is emptied, the hugs are given, and the kids are soundly tucked into bed, with full tummy’s and thoughts of all the things they will do with their new toys the very next day.
One last time, I breathe in our little tree, the one that has been decorated and re-decorated by little hands over the past month. One last time I turn the lights on and sit in a chair not far from it, admiring the beauty of it. In the blink of an eye, the madness is over. Another year has passed, and there is nothing for me to do tomorrow. There is no elf to move, no presents to wrap, no well wishing to strangers as they pass. The cookies are stale, and the wine has been consumed. The Facebook debates about the supposed War on Christmas will float away into the black hole of the internet, only to be dragged out with the decorations next year.
It’s all really over. Yet, I can’t even understand how it’s gone so fast. It came, and it went. The oddest feeling is wondering if I am sad or relieved that the madness has disappeared or if I will miss the twinkling lights of our Christmas tree. One more day, I think, just one more day to watch my kids open the presents again, to watch them jump up and down with glee. Just a little bit more of that delicious stuffing, and a couple more hours laughing with friends. Those are the parts I will miss, the feeling of togetherness.
No longer do I have anything to plan, no more conflicting dates to figure out. No more wondering if “I got enough”. No more pressure on the bank account, or stress to finish the last of the shopping. Then I remember how crazy and insane it all was, how I counted the hours, and how I am tired of saying, “Santa is not going to be here for this many days”, or explaining to a five year old that Christmas is not just about the presents. I sigh with relief when I realize that all the rude customers at work will no longer bother me as I quietly close up the shop at a more humane hour. It’s time to get back to normal, it seems.
It’s gone for another year, just like that. It was good, it was magical, but it is over.
And, I couldn’t be more pleased.