The Holidays are Over

From the time I was a small child to well into my twenties, I was a Christmas junkie. I loved the holiday season — the Christmas carols, the elaborately decorated shops, the abundance of good food (primarily the kind loaded with sugar and fat), shopping for family and friends, the proverbial “good cheer,” even the crowded malls. I couldn’t get enough of it.

When Dec. 26 came, I was in full-blown despair. Christmas was over. Over! Hearing Christmas carols, which my parents played through til the new year, nearly brought me to tears. Discarded Christmas trees, sitting sadly on the sidewalk , strands of tinsel still attached to their drooping branches, sunk me deep into depression. (What can I say, I was a weird kid.)

How much has changed. Perhaps it’s simply a sign of getting older, but over the last several years I’ve often wished I could just fast forward through the month of December–from the time Thanksgiving ends, really, until today, Jan. 2, when life returns to what we know as “normal.”

Because the holidays are stressful. There is all the shopping to do, the crowded roads and crowded malls, the meals to make, the extended family to visit, the holiday cards to mail, the travel planning, the New Year’s Eve planning. And then there’s that one radio station that starts playing Christmas music non-stop before Thanksgiving has even started. It’s enough to make you long for the days when Starbucks stops serving pumpkin spice lattes.

But as my six-year-old reminded me last night, “The holidays can be nice.” He’s right–and ours was very nice this year, spent with my family in my hometown, San Diego. And as I reminded myself, there are many people in this world–including twenty sets of parents in Newtown, Conn.–for whom life will never be “normal” again.

I usually deposit my Christmas tree on the sidewalk on the first day of the new year, not wanting to drag out the holidays any longer. This year, I’m reconsidering. I think I’ll keep it up a little longer.

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16 COMMENTS

  1. Christina,

    Something must be in the air. I sat down, hit b-net and sighed, I hope we’re back to normal- and here’s your post.

    I too LOVE Christmas. But I look forward to it ending (mrs. and little prof going back to school and leaving me alone to roam the house naked and eating cheese notwithstanding). Not sure why. I also LOVE the kid’s Christmas/”Holiday” smiles and excitement. And maybe that’s what I have to get accustomed to as an adult.

    Or maybe I get sad because I’m not a kid anymore and so Christmas/”Holiday” is not as magical as it was when I was a kid.

    Oh well…

  2. Prof, I definitely empathize with your feelings.

    But for some needed sense of context, look up a somewhat obscure short novel by the great James T.Farrell (who wrote among many other things the Studs Lonigan trilogy), titled “New Year’s Eve 1929.” The characters there, all attending a party, too “loved” Christmas and had so many great expectations for their holiday seasons, only to see them crash at a truly appalling party. Be glad, in other words, that you’re not near so even half-miserable.

    And have a good, even great year nevertheless. You earn it daily, I’m quite sure.

  3. I love the holiday season beginning with Thanksgiving through New Year’s. I always get a bit melancholy when it’s over. I just took down my tree and decorations and the house seems bare.

  4. Much of the stress associated with the holidays, for me anyway, is centered around gift-shopping. Don’t get me wrong, I love to give pressies but I hate the crowds and the lines. Thankfully, today we have the Internet and I was able to do about 90 per cent of my shopping online this year (and got some very good deals, I might add). If you MUST visit a mall, do so early in the season if possible.

    This is also a very difficult time to watch your waistline. Actually, the “eating season” starts on Thanksgiving day. There are forbidden edibles everywhere: the office, the bank, the beauty salon. Plus, if you bake, you can’t help but sample. Keeping active during this period helped somewhat.

    The saddest part of the holiday season is remembering those who are no longer with us.

    The best part of the holiday season for me is having time off from work and visiting with friends I don’t get to see that often during the rest of the year.

  5. This year was a weird season. Between Hurricane Sandy, the lack of Halloween, the earliest Thanksgiving possible and hearing about Sandy Hook, CT while at my companies holiday party it all felt very rushed and very sad. I usually love the holidays but I’m glad to be back into a normal routine for a while.

  6. We started off the holiday season on December 8th for Chanukah, and I’m having one last event here on January 6. Took down all the decorations outside and inside, threw out the aging live wreath hanging at our door, sorted and discarded holiday cards. Got rid of the last dozens of cookies and confections last week, given to grateful folks who seemed to looking for more sweets. As I was going to our dumpster shed, saw a huge box filled with Christmas decorations, wrapping paper, artificial tree and such. I just had to go through it and start my collection for next year. Everything was new and useable. Made me wonder what might have happened to a neighbor that caused him/her to not only take down holiday decor, but toss it out altogether. Have to start planning for next Chanukah,which falls on Thanksgiving Day in November this year. Turkey latkes, anyone?

  7. “Made me wonder what might have happened to a neighbor that caused him/her to not only take down holiday decor, but toss it out altogether.”

    There’s a poem here.

  8. The holidays are not over. Anyone familiar with Angolan holidays knows that January 4th is “Day of Martyrs of the Colonial Repression”. But what food to serve?

  9. Huh? what sort of meshagaas church do you people attend? Christmas isn’t over until the Magi arrive on Epiphany (6 January) bearing gifts. Twelfth night dinner usually centers around a decadent roast. Um those 12 days of Christmas start on 25 December.

  10. cathar – Adding to your literary comments, John O’Hara’s vastly underappreciated novel, “Appointment in Samarra” is worthy of a read as well. The plot revolves around three ultimately self destructive days in the life of Julian English during Christmas holiday season of 1930.

    Having reread it recently reminds me that it should stand as somewhat of a warning to some of the folks in Baristaville.

  11. I used to take all of my Xmas stuff down on New Years day but I like to enjoy that last day and relax. So now I take down decorations one day at a time, room by room and swap out the red and green for a cleaner winter look. My paper whites are coming up and my kids will cut out dozens of paper snowflakes for our windows.

    It is just a lovely here in January as it is in December with fires and mulled drinks.

    Liz- we have chilled gingerbread cookie dough we decided to roll out and make snowflake and mitten cookies this weekend. So ain’t over!

  12. cathar, it’s curious you mention not being miserable, as my New Year’s Resolution is to just smile. After listening to a TED talk by Amy Cuddy (https://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are.html), I decided I just need to smile, chin up, dress up and BE THAT GUY.

    Which guy you ask? THAT one. The one smiling enjoying every moment. The one making things better. The guy with the Ryan Gosling cool. Yea. Him. THAT guy.

    I will search out “New Year’s Eve 1929.” But from your description, I was immediately reminded of The Celebration, a Swedish film from 1998.

    I continue to look forward to your words and references to art & lit that I do not know in the new year.

  13. @johnlee I tried John, truly I did,,to keep my tree up till Little Christmas. It was my intent. But this year’s tree must have been cut in August. It took not a bit of water and I swear it’s tossing my ornaments to the floor on purpose. It will be gone tomorrow. But prehaps the outside lights till the 6th?

  14. Silverleaf, thanks for the reminder about ‘Appointment in Samarra.” I’d forgotten all about its time frame, but it really is a brilliant book. By an underrated author. Points to you, as well, for the bit about the book maybe serving as a warning. (Have you seen the trailer for the new “Gatsby” version? I wondered when watching it when Great Neck in the 20’s somehow became so, well, “large” in scale. And in 3-d, yet!)

    And thank you for the kind words, prof. Now go and quick rent “Seven Men From Now” to see the sort of tight, terse and suggestively violent movie Quentin Tarantino will only ever dream of making.

  15. Yes, I’ve seen the trailers for the upcoming “Gatsby” and I’m not at all impressed with the 3D visual effects. As a matter of fact, it think it rather detracts from the overall look and feel of the film. I mean, “The Great Gatsby” shot in 3D; why not “Casablanca” or “The Bicycle Thief” for that matter? Moreover, I have the feeling that neither the author nor Max Perkins, his editor at Scribner’s, would have approved. Nor would have “The Boy Wonder”, Irving Thalberg, Head of Production over at MGM during those days, who was the subject of Fitzgeralds’s other great novel, “The Last Tycoon,” later to be made into a film starring Robert De Niro.

    Interestingly enough, most people probably best remember the 1974 version with Robert Redford and Mia Farrow, but there have been three other earlier film adaption’s: 1926, starring Warner Baxter and Lois Wilson as Jay and Daisy, and 1949, with Alan Ladd and Betty Field in the title roles, (with an incredible cast including McDonald Carey, Ruth Hussey, Barry Sullivan, Shelley Winters, Howard Da Silva, Ed Begley, and Elisha Cook, Jr.) A very watered down 2000 TV version was also released with Mira Sorvino as Daisy. A gross case of miscasting if there has ever been one.

    I’ll probably give in to my impulse and see it nonetheless as it remains, to this day, one of my favorite American novels.

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