Jessie Raymond: Good riddance to a great holiday
This year, I found Christmas to be exceptional in terms of good will, good food, good company and moments I can genuinely describe as “merry.” It was, all in all, a wonderful holiday season.
Boy, am I glad it’s over.
I got into the spirit early this year, humming Christmas music under my breath back in mid-November. You have to be careful with this. People may love winter wonderlands and silver bells, but if they hear you break out into Christmas songs before Thanksgiving, otherwise peaceful citizens may form an angry mob and pelt you with leftover Halloween candy. Best to keep your voice down until December.
At the beginning of the month we put up the tree and decorated the house and I baked cookies like a Keebler elf hoping to land a big promotion. We wrapped gifts as snow fell outside and, for the first time in years, didn’t run out of tape.
It was beginning to look a lot like Christmas.
You could feel it everywhere, not just at home. There was a community-wide sense of kindness and generosity you don’t experience at other times of year. Apparently I’m not the only one who watched a marathon of critically acclaimed masterpieces of drama known as Hallmark Channel Christmas specials. They simultaneously warm your heart and challenge your insulin response.
It’s like none of the usual rules apply in December. People smile more. People give more. The bank lets you skip your mortgage payment (that is true, right?).
For me, the warm feelings intensified as Christmas drew near. Family came from out of town. The house bulged with wrapping paper and trays of treats and Christmas cards and visitors. We ignored budgets and nutritional guidelines. We ate chocolate truffles and drank hot cider laced with spiced rum. I don’t know when I’ve had such a good time.
What a refreshing change of pace to stay up late — until 11 p.m. on several heady occasions — and take a few days off from work. I napped. I lost track of what day it was. One night I went to change into my pajamas and discovered I was still wearing them. It was wild.
And then, on Dec. 26, I woke up with a Christmas hangover.
Don’t get me wrong: I enjoy sloth and gluttony as much as the next guy, but as of that moment I needed life to get back to normal. In an act of defiance, I stopped plugging in the tree lights.
Since then, I’ve had an almost visceral reaction against everything Christmas. I’ve deleted all my holiday music and packed up anything red, green or sparkly. (While this took care of the garlands and the Christmas dishes, I probably should have been a bit more careful with my sweep of the house; I’m going to miss my houseplants and my engagement ring.)
The clutter of the season, right down to the hulking tree in the corner of the living room, is giving me nervous jitters. I want things back to the way they were before the hap-hap-happiest time of the year threw everything out of whack.
Saturday I composted every last Christmas goodie — even the ones that weren’t rolled in coconut or stale — and fixed myself a big restorative bowl of beans and kale. Monday morning I got up my standard two hours before the crack of dawn — and it felt fantastic. The tree is still standing, but not for long. I can’t look at it without gritting my teeth.
The holidays were delightful, but enough is enough. I can’t wait for New Year’s to be over so I can get back to my daily life and its abundance of boring, repetitive and ceaseless tasks and obligations. Ah, monotony and predictability, how I’ve missed you.
In some ways I wish the joy of Christmas would last all year, but it’s not possible. I just can’t keep cookies on hand year round, and I get tired at the mere thought of being kind and generous on a daily basis.
About a month from now, however, I will look up and notice something — a forgotten Santa figurine on the hutch or a roll of wrapping paper in the corner of the dining room — and realize that my wish has kind of come true. Try as I might, I don’t think I’ll ever get Christmas completely out of the house.