Twenty-five days. From Dec. 1st to Dec. 26th, I’m a team player in the “Happy Holidays” games… I radiate joy and fa-la-la with the best of them (except perhaps Pinterest perfectionists). To the untrained eye, I appear eager and excited to participate in all forms of reindeer games. I festively adorn, I don gay apparel, I sing with the angels, I jingle my bells, and I travel over the woods and through the snow as necessary.
In short, my outward expression is that of love and light during the season of the holy holidays.
But on day 26 – I’m done. Baby Jesus’ birthday has taken up enough of my mental, emotional, and physical attention, and I’m ready for re-entry to the real world. I eagerly anticipate my well-earned 344-day reprieve… an extended period of time where (mostly) normal prevails.
During this heavenly holiday hiatus, the Christmas Crap rests comfortably in the bowels of the attic. No adorning or festooning of anything takes place, on any mantel or empty shelf in the house. This lengthy break gives me 344 days without an assault of in-your-face shopping demands at the mall… 344 days without the unwanted aroma of roasting beef and figgy pudding in my home… 344 days until I once again receive unsolicited holiday cards from virtual strangers…. 344 days until I have to purchase presents in bulk for friends and family, just to show I care… 344 days where my expectations in life are in relative balance with the reality of it.
I know, I sound cynical, but perhaps I’m experiencing some kind of pre, post-holiday partum. Grown and long flown, none of our five little darlings will be home to share the most wonderful time of the year with all those magical moments; no baking of cookies, or mulling of cider, or singing of carols, or harking of angels… just me and my husband, alone, forlornly fantasizing about what we could be doing this Christmas if all our children were home… tears likely cascading down our cheeks…
I don’t think so. The car is gassed and the hotel is booked! This year, we’re taking a road trip to see our grandkids 2,000 miles away. We’ll get to experience some of the true magic that takes place when young children still believe. Staying in a nearby hotel, my husband and I will experience the real joys of the holiday, including such things as Room Service and Housekeeping. We’ll feed freely on festive food prepared by someone other than myself. We’ll savor the sparkle of others’ decadent decorations. We may even be the receivers of the holiday gifts this year, as well as the givers.
This sounds like the best of all worlds to me, being just far enough away from the fray to observe or insert myself at my own leisure… like having my Christmas cake, and eating it too. Most important – by the time I return home on the 26th, I will still have 343 days until it’s time to do it all again.
Emily Gaffney is a post-menopausal baby boomer whose empty nest was filled with her aging mother for 10 years, often providing keen (sometimes unwanted) insight into the realities of daughters mothering mothers. Find her at 50 Shades of Aging and on Facebook.