I am not a huge fan of the holiday season. I often tell people that I just try to get from Thanksgiving to New Year’s day unscathed. It’s not that Christmas isn’t wonderful. It is. There is true magic in it. It’s merely exhausting. And, it’s not right that it comes at the very end of the year when I’m already worn out from the adventures of the previous eleven months. It just makes the holiday season that much more tiring. I know. I know. Bah humbug.
Today is my favorite day post-Christmas. It is the day when all the decorations get put away, and the house goes back to what I like to call (quoting my Catholic memories) “ordinary time.” There is something so ludicrously satisfying in carefully packing away Christmas and knowing I won’t have to see it again for another eleven months. I get to reward myself for surviving another holiday season without beating someone at the mall or losing a finger sawing down the Christmas tree. As entertaining as it is to put up the trees each year, it is twice as fulfilling to take them down. When the last box is tossed into the crawl space for storage and the last pine needle is in the Dyson, I am at peace again.
I don’t think I’m the only one who experiences this readiness to get back to normal life after a season of tumult and restlessness. The boys start vacation asking me how many actual days of school will be missed. Normally, I recount that number with maximum chagrin, imagining how much I am going to miss yoga and 6 hours a day of quiet. But, this year was different because my boys are at an age when they’re honestly fun to be with. We had an amazing time together. We played games, cuddled on the couch, and did puzzles. Most of the 11.5 days they were home, they were a joy to have around. Two days ago, I was honestly sad that their vacation was coming to an end. This morning, however, the bickering began. It started with a mild disagreement at breakfast and culminated in an actual fight by late afternoon. I pondered then if two smallish boys with mouths duct-taped could be placed in a large box and picked up by a charity for donation. Is it too much to imagine they would be quiet and stay still enough for that?
It is a blessing that they start fighting right when it’s time to get back to school and a normal routine. It proves that they too are ready for life to go on. They need to get back to the business of living their separate lives. E.M. Forster was right when he wrote, “Life never gives us what we want at the moment that we consider appropriate.” It does, however, give us what we need when we need it, if only we’re willing to recognize it.