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Chatterbox: Pack the lights, keep the memories


Well, well, well, the stores have already replaced the red Santa hats with red Valentine hearts. For most of us, that means the tinsel has hit the fan.

Now, there is little left of our holidays other than taking the extra boards out of the dining room table, trying to remember how the heck we fit that china into the cabinet, and waiting desperately for the trash pickup.

I once mentioned that, years ago, my grandson left a big toy truck in the middle of the living room after a visit. I purposely left it there for two weeks, to help me hold the moment. This morning, moments after my son’s family had departed from my driveway, after their holiday visit, I found my grandson’s small green bulldozer in my jacket pocket.

Every other year, my husband and I get to have our four children, their spouses and our grandchildren all together at our house for Christmas. This year, my Michigan son and his family were able to stay for a holiday visit of 12 days and, still, the time went by in a flash. Since they come so far, and since the extended family is growing and geographically spreading, we also host a biannual family gathering just after the holiday so all the cousins, aunts and uncles can be together.

Having the Michiganians here for the visit, and having all my children home for the actual holiday, was such good stuff that I was on some kind of endorphin blast. Yesterday, having the extended family here for the gathering, I was so happy that I was functioning at warp speed. When I should have been totally fried, I felt awesome.

Then, last night, my son and his wife prepared to leave and, this morning, I woke up feeling like I had got beaten up by professionals. I was happy to spend a couple of minutes kissing the babies before they got buckled into their seat belts but when they left, I suddenly felt exhausted.

With my son and his family heading home and my house once again empty, I feel deflated. I try to focus on the past two weeks and not the silence. My grandchildren have far more energy than I ever had, but they are well mannered, fun, articulate and they filled the house with their warmth, wonder and giggles. Now, the house is so quiet, I can hear my arteries hardening, and though there are still the remnants of yesterday’s party all over the kitchen, the thrill is fading.

This is pretty much universal. Most people experience a little post-holiday crash landing. The trick is to stay afloat. Oh, well… so, today, I am tired enough to be five people. So, today, I wonder how sore a person can be and still be able to move. I remain grateful for the impending possibility of a power nap, even if I’m not so keen on the empty house that brings it to me.

Many of us have spent some time over the past week or two visiting with our loved ones who may have traveled great distances to be with us or, maybe, we did the traveling. As we begin to get back to the daily routine, which is the usual feature on the marquee of our lives, we will regain some energy, simmer down and sink back into the more regular, dare I say, ordinary, rhythm. I hope we all have some great memories.

As for me, a die-hard Christmasophile, well, I will leave my house decorated until Valentine’s Day … my personal tear-down date. I will play my holiday music and I will try to enjoy the now treasured decorations my children made for me when they were in elementary school.

I’ll wait for the photographs to roll in, try to resist the call of the last of the butter cookies, and work to convince myself that a house restored to neatness is an acceptable consolation prize for the end of a magical, holiday season.

Still, if all else fails, there’s the little green bulldozer in my jacket pocket.

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