The holidays are officially over, the big yellow angel has returned despite the frigid temps, the halls have been undecked (with the exception of a few strings of lights left here & there about the house I’ve decided need to stay out in the name of staying cozy & bright) and so-called real life, the one with schedules, responsibilities and 6:30 am wake-ups has returned.
I know I am not alone in saying how fast Christmas snuck up on us this year. Even Edie girl said there ought to be more than three weeks between Thanksgiving & Christmas. Sometime around the middle of last October, I realized our entire family was overscheduled with no end in sight anytime soon. We had a frantic pace that continued right up until we crawled into bed Christmas Eve – while I shared with all of you the Christmas Eve cake fail, I neglected to tell you that about two hours after that incident, in the midst of wrapping, I went to grab another bag of supplies out of the attic, only to have the bag rip apart and the contents scatter themselves all over the floor, leaving a mess for another day. Finally finished with my ‘merry-making’, I headed downstairs even later that evening, to lay out gifts under the tree, only to discover that the tree skirt was wet – and every present already sitting on it also damp, which led to us (okay, Pat) re-wrapping gifts when we thought we were done while I attempted to dry the skirt. I ended up just grabbing a Christmas tablecloth and threw that around the base of the tree, patting myself on the back for having a small stash of these sort of things on hand ‘just in case’ as I found myself not wanting to wait for the dryer to do it’s job that night. At that point, all I wanted to do was go to bed. Never before have the words of Dr. Seuss been so poignant – “Somehow or the other Christmas CAME…it came without ribbons, it came without tags, it came without packages, boxes or bags!”. In this case, it came despite a dropped cake, no ribbons and a wet tree skirt.
Needless to say, with one Christmas Eve night disaster after another serving as the cherry on top of our über-busy fall & holiday season, the days following in which we were gloriously and deliciously unscheduled were beyond divine. We had some wonderfully lazy days where no one got dressed, no one left the house. We also had days where we all pitched in and cleaned up – the three of us spent a few hours one warm, sunny afternoon cleaning the basement, where the ping-pong table has been permanently set up with all the new floor space found. Laundry, an ongoing battle since the washer fiasco last fall, finally got completely caught up AND completely put away over the break. Freezers got cleaned & organized, as did closets. I spent a day just going through the mess that was the gift wrapping supplies, purging two full bags of unusable bags, boxes & paper after the great Christmas Eve wrapping station fail. There were multiple loads in the pick up truck dropped off at Goodwill, the recycling center and the dump. There are parts of my house that haven’t been this clean in years – the newer sections, quite possibly since they were built. Books were read, loads of knitting was done, my child NAPPED. That was quite possibly the greatest gift of all from a child who gave them up at the oh-so-tender age of 3 months. Granted, at least one was due to a cold she came down with, but three other naps (THREE!!!) had no such excuse. It was a luxurious holiday staycation.
This is not to say we were home alone – we had a steady stream of visits – from the pack of wild girls who helped clean the basement to two visits from our Smiley cousins as well as one from the Colas where we discovered that indeed, our house could stretch to hold 4 more kids as well as 4 more grown-ups. Okay, so no one may have slept particularly great, but we all tapped into our inner ability to sleep anywhere, including the middle of the dining room floor over those days. We had a New Years Eve party that wasn’t large, but somehow managed to use at least one glass from every set of glasses in my dining room closet. If you’ve seen the inside of that closet, you know that I may have more stemware than I do china (and I have quite a bit of that). That shelf was not quite emptied, but it was pretty darn close. Switching from red wine to bubbly and back again will do that. Edie & little Abigail stayed up and watched the ball drop upstairs, toasting with apple cider. Somehow the best picture I managed to take that evening was this as I was going to bed.Proof we used every last set of stemware? Thinking it was some sort of statement that Pat’s mason jar wine glass was laid in the dish drainer next to Granny’s 19th century Welsh crystal which was laying on top of an emtpy ice cube tray? Satisfaction that we threw a good party and I was going to bed with a clean kitchen? All of the above? Probably so.
All in all, that respite was exactly what I and my entire family needed. With all due apologies and respect to the family we didn’t see this holiday season because we didn’t travel and I’ve yet to mail your gifts ( because the crucial pieces didn’t arrive until late Christmas Eve afternoon and I am still finding it hard to get myself motivated to get back out there to finish & mail them), I love not traveling during the holidays. Just getting ready for them was a herculean enough task for me this year. As it is, the tree didn’t go up until December 22. Not all the decorations made it out this year – most of my bottle brush trees stayed in their box as did all of our nativity scenes. The mantel never got decorated. The stockings were pulled out to be filled Christmas Eve and went back into the linen closet the day after Christmas. The vintage tinsel tree didn’t come out either. As I sit here typing this on January 7, the Christmas tablecloth is still on the dining room table and the Christmas china, while not having been used in a few days, is still sitting out on the hutch. My excuse today is that it’s too cold to go into the basement where it’s stored. Like the Christmas gifts I’m mailing out way past Christmas, I feel it’s extending the joy of the season just a little bit longer. And that joy, the one where I get to sit in my pj’s all day, eating leftover cake my dear husband salvaged after I dropped it coming out of the oven, binge watching The X-files on Netflix with my girl while knocking out knitting projects that have sat in my project bag for over a year? That is the joy I want to keep all year long. Sure the magic of Christmas is nice, but the luxury of nothing to do, nowhere to be for days on end following is my favorite part of the season. Sort of makes all that rushing around worth it, don’t you think?