Good Riddance to the Holidays

It's all finished and I couldn't be happier. No more parties or baking, no more shopping, wrapping or Christmas TV programming. No pressure to write cards. No more decorating, and no more putting decorations away. Can I get a "turn, turn, turn" and an amen?

It's been two days since anyone wished me "Happy New Year." I'm sure there will still be a few stragglers--last year I even got one in February! But the holidays have officially ended and happy days are here again. (Except for the 2008 election hysteria that makes my hellish holidays look brief and functional. But let's not get into politics.)

Yesterday I got the fake tree and all of the ornaments, linens, home decorations and serving pieces put away. I stripped the tree over the weekend, so I only had a few days with a naked tree and a pile of ornaments on the floor--and my holiday bar has been lowered sufficiently that I can feel good about that! I was thrilled to close the garage door with all the Christmas boxes inside while we were still in the single digits of January. It's easy to exceed expectations when you don't set them too high. In fact, there's even a low-expectations song about resolutions that I like a lot.

Now my living room looks really empty. I'm thinking of holding an aerobics class in there. Except I was so careful about not losing control over the holidays that I'm doing a reverse resolution now. I've cut back on exercise and I'm gorging myself. Oh well, at least I looked good in the Christmas photos. Valentine's Day could be another story, however.

I was pleasantly surprised to find a few fake needles on the floor around my new fake tree. It gave me a warm reminder of the bad old days when those needles would be plentiful, and accompanied by a big old dead tree that needed to be dumped somewhere. This year, no problem. Just break it down, fold it up and put it back in its box. Of course, that box is so heavy that it takes two people to heave it into storage, but if you live right there's always a Santa's Helper around when you need one. Oh, and I put the needles in a snack-sized Ziploc bag for next year.

I'm also happy there is no more Christmas music blasting through the streets and stores. My beloved XM Radio has stopped pushing its dedicated holiday music stations and is back to its highly targeted and diverse offerings. Now most of its promotions seem to involve Led Zeppelin, which is fine with me.

This year I didn't get anything for Christmas that I needed to return, which was a pleasant surprise. My son, however, rethought everything on his wish list and even exchanged gifts he had specifically requested. I didn't mind too much, except the part where I had to look the Gamestop salesman, who is probably half my age, right in the eye and confirm that I was allowing my child to bring home a game that promotes killing and cursing. Everyone in the store listened in as he read me the definition of the M rating on the new selection. Yep, that's the one we wanted. Now put it in a bag so I can skulk out the door.

I braved the day-after-Christmas sales this season for the first time in years. They were as horrible as I remembered, but I still managed to do quite a bit of damage. I saved hundreds of dollars, but of course that kind of bragging doesn't come cheap.

So for this year, it's all over but the bill-paying. Oh, and the thank you notes.

Originally posted January 10, 2008

Hellish Holidays from Around the Web

Today's New York Times has an article on those who feel "this is the year of the anti-Christmas." Whether the economy, the environment, or just plain burnout, these grinches are finding excuses for skipping the tree and the gifts.

What are your memories of sitting on Santa's lap? As these photos indicate, sometimes it looked like there was something else going on!

And a couple of videos to keep the mood going!

Christmas Confessional

A great if hellish song by the Hives and Cyndi Lauper.

It Couldn't Have Been Worse?

Dad yelling, sister running away from home - it does sound pretty bad. But there's always hope!

Getting Emotional at Christmastime

Are anxiety and depression - the flip sides of peace and joy - inevitable at the holidays? It sure feels like it. For every positive, heart-warming aspect of Christmas, there's something infuriating or just plain annoying to rise up and attempt to blot it out - a Joe Lieberman blocking the very health care reform he once proposed, for example. I try to be positive, to see the silver lining and ignore the cloud, but the holidays don't make it easy.

The tree is up and makes me smile every time I see it - until I notice the block of lights out at its bottom. This is only the third Christmas since I bought my fake-but-expensive Martha Stewart Mount Sterling and the thing is already breaking down. Needless to say, no one answers the customer service line.

I love the delicious holiday food - so much that I've gained three pounds and there's still two weeks left until New Year's and its repetitive resolutions.

I plan and shop for months to get just the right presents for everyone and pride myself on completing shopping and shipping well before deadline. Then, despite assurances from a vendor that the gift is in the mail, it's not. It may yet show up, but even if it does it's already missed my cross-country shipment to my sister and her family.

See what I mean? I want to have goodwill toward men (and Martha) but there are just so many obstacles.