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The After Christmas Effect

I would like to introduce Turtle.  He is nameless. He floats around in a tank of hazy water with a facial expression that epitomizes the exhaustion and inability to continue that comes with preparations for the holiday season.   I plan to have postage stamps made with this look and attach them to all of my credit card payments as I slowly begin the process of paying for Christmas.    I know this look and have seen it in my own reflection.  As we grew each day closer to Christmas and all the glory that it is, my eyes lost a bit of twinkle and exhaustion set in as I felt myself sinking to the bottom of this proverbial pond of gift cards, ribbons, bows, increased credit limits, and chocolates from countries I've never heard of.   But, ready or not... Christmas does arrive and it waits for no one.  My Christmas morning begins early because each child wants to wake me in the early morning hours to sneak with them out to the living room to see what treasures Santa has left them. It's our special time that is only shared between mother and child.  We don't play with the toys or pretty things, we just peek and take in the sights and sounds of the living room lit up by the glow of tiny Christmas lights.   We'll sit on the floor together and gaze at all that is there, knowing it is all protected by one very large dozing cat who takes residence under the tree during the month of December. Then.... it's off to bed again.   It isn't long before the other child is gently waking me to sneak with them back to the glory of the living room to see what gifts await them.  My husband and the cat never wake.  They are used to our nocturnal stirrings and pay no attention any more. They no longer wonder what it is we do in the middle of the night.  It has not effected them negatively, so it must all be good.  After child number two was tucked back in bed, I heard what I knew must be my daughter's missing hamster.  It has survived for two weeks by eating the soles of her boots and a tube of pink lip gloss.  Who knew, I must add.  But now.... here he was, early on Christmas morning, and soon I was on the floor with a flashlight and a handful of pumpkin seeds and granola hunting hamsters.  I thought about Mary and baby Jesus and what their night was like some 2050 years ago and thought....   "Wow -  this is so not what they would have been doing" as I tried to squeeze to the back of the closet to find the hamster.  About the time I gave up on finding him, the sun came up and it was time to make that long walk down the hallway again.  This time, the entire family was in tow... except the hamster.  Even with pre-exhaustion setting in before a complete sunrise, the magic of Christmas began to unfold before us. And as always - it was wonderful.  It was a busy day and I'm still trying to dig myself out from a pile of wrapping paper and increased credit card debt, but what fun we had.  The best gift was having my brother home for the holidays.  He brought us jewelry hand crafted from villagers in Africa.  The items were lovely.   He gave my son a necklace that has an image of what appears to be a leaping gazelle on it.  I'm a little concerned that this might actually be the fertility God symbol.  I will add this to my list of things to check on tomorrow.  No room for error there, you know.  My daughter was thrilled with each of her gifts that slowly transformed her into a tiny jet setting Valley Girl... Flannel pants, Uggs, Northface, Apple... We have moved past the age of Barbie Dolls that are wired to their packages and require special welding tools and cutters for removal.   We had all of our friends and family over and had a wonderful time visiting and watching the kids be kids.   My daughter managed to walk into a remote control dual rotor Chinook helicopter that was hovering about the living room.   It made an emergency landing deep inside her long locks of hair.  Dual rotors!  Yes - Not just one to unwind massive amounts of brunette hair from, but two, for added fun.    I do believe that having a helicopter attached to the side of your head is a look that could be pulled off at Christmastime - Look at Cindy Lou Who who proudly wore a tea cup and saucer in her blonde beauty doo.   It's all about owning it, I suppose.   After the removal of the helicopter and a few layers of hair, we gathered in the den for the traditional singing of Christmas carols and downing of eggnog.  Oh, wait - That's not us - that was George Bailey's Family in a Wonderful Life.  We raced to the den to pick our avatars and do a little white water rafting while standing in a raft at the headwaters of Nintendo's Curvy Creek.    We jumped and pivoted and flung our arms in the air to grab virtual coins that I was unaware loomed at the top of the treeline as we plummeted down the raging waters. We crashed through pilings and piers and somehow came out unscathed, but exhausted.  I finally left the kids to play with their toys and claimed my spot on the couch in front of the fire where I am certain I wore the same look as the aforementioned turtle.  I woke this morning and all is calm in the house.   I'm not sure, but I believe there may be an extra child somewhere in the den buried under a pile of wrapping paper and Christmas joy.  In just a short while, I will wake them all and begin putting things back in order.  Perhaps the hamster will return to this cage, the turtle will bask on his rock, and I can thumb through my photos of another wonderful Christmas with family.


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