Anyone else staring at a livingroom that seems so empty after the chaos of the last few days? Today, with everyone back at work, the house is feeling so quiet after the chaos that is inevitably a part of the holidays. Celebrating the week after Christmas may not officially be a thing, but hear me out: maybe it should be.
Never Disregard the Week After Christmas as Wasted Time
Parents, especially moms, spend weeks prepping for the big day. THE big day. Just one day. Just a short span of time that’s over in a flash. We make lists on lists on lists of things to buy — and I don’t mean just presents. I mean holiday paper plates, a plastic tablecloth for gingerbread cookie day, white elephant party gifts, an ugly sweater or seasonal earrings, the one kind of peppermint candy that will do for just one of the eight kinds of cookies we’re making, the holiday menus for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day (three meals…or do we want just two meals and some appetizers?)….that list of lists goes on.
Then, before we’ve finished that first yawn, it’s over. People are packing up their cars and headed home, and we’re looking around at our house wondering where the time went. Did we put out all the desserts? Did they like their gifts? Did we forget anything?
If we did, it’s too late, but no regrets. We need to be okay with doing our best and doing what we can. The tiny scraps of paper laying in weird places, the sprinkles on the floor by the table, the favorite cookie that’s gone but the container is still closed and sitting on the counter….each is a sign of the fun that our loved ones had amidst the carefully planned schedule, and we need to be thankful for that.
This morning, I came down to a darkish living room devoid of the sparkling lights and quiet holiday music that have been everpresent. Gone were the piles of boxes and bags under the tree. In their place is silence and a few opened gifts for the husband and I and a couple of things for people we haven’t seen yet. It’s kind of depressing…which feels wrong, because everything went well, but I also know it’s okay to be sad it’s over.
So, despite having come down with some crud today and wanting to just go back to bed, I’m choosing to celebrate the week after Christmas. The chaos, the noise, and the mess that got cleaned up between every stage, they’re all parts of a holiday celebrating our large family. The weeks of small bites of holiday joy — driving past holiday light displays, baking someone’s favorite cranberry bread, placing orders for specific sought-out gifts you take days to find, these are how we build our holidays into memorable experiences. Each thing we do, whether we do it with a smile on our face or a grimace, is a piece of how we remember the holiday.
Taking down the lights, putting away my angel collection and unplugging my Mickey Mouse wreath, each of these things will make me a little sad…yet there is also a little bit of excitement. I’m happy to be able to spend so much time orchestrating a few days that everyone loves, but there are 11 other months of the year that all contribute to that one month in some way. Those 11 other months matter no less, because those months help us to meet new people and to grow our relationships with those we do know, helping us to compile our gift list for the next holiday season.
We can face 2024 with a clean slate. The stress of creating the perfect Christmas is behind us, though we may still be facing some bills. I try to end the year by making sure everything is paid off, so I don’t carry debt forward. Medical bills (of which I have several, because ACA in California allows for crazy co-pays/coinsurances still) and holiday bills from 2023 don’t need to follow me into 2024.
That clean slate also means we can begin doing what we’ve put off for the past month, those changes we’ve been wanting to make but haven’t had the time, energy or money. For me, that’s a new business plan. I’m making some big changes in 2024. This past year, I chose to refocus this blog somewhat, but I didn’t make enough changes; instead, I just spent less time on it, for multiple reasons, and I had to really think about what I wanted to do with it. Now, I’m 95%..no, let’s back that down a little. I’m 90% sure what I want this site to be and what I want to write about, in conjunction with my related social media profiles.
In enjoying — wait, celebrating these days after Christmas as the success that it was, I am putting together the foundation for 2024. I don’t do New Year’s resolutions. I just prioritize my time differently, and get back to ‘normal’ life, with a few changes now that I’ve had time to reflect, time that I don’t normally have the rest of the year. Sitting in the quiet house, biding time basically until New Year’s and schedules going back to normal.
As I write this, the husband and my son are both working. I’m working very part-time this week, trying to get over a cold I picked up along the way. It was a very foggy morning, it’s cold, the heat is on and the dogs are cuddled around my feet. I put my Christmas presents away; my family spoiled me again, and I’m so happy with this world we’ve created. After my father-in-law’s funeral last week, we had a huge gathering of all of the kids and grandkids. It was both overwhelming and amazing, and I’m thankful for the relationships the kids and all of us are building. It always makes me sad to see people who need losses to come together, but I’ll take it.
I sat up in bed last night, waiting for the Nyquil to take affect, filling up my purple journal with ideas of things to write about in 2024. On a normal day, I’d have been reading or watching TV, but this week after Christmas has inspired me to think forward, to put things on paper that have been rolling around in my head as a “someday” list. Since Thanksgiving, my lists were all holiday- or client-focused, geared towards meeting deadlines of one sort or another. I want 2024 to be less like that, but let’s be real, it won’t be.
I hope your week after Christmas is a good one. I hope you get the rest you need, the time with loved ones that you want, and that you’re looking forward to 2024 with the positivity you aspire to.