Reluctantly, an eyelid peels open and groggily squints at the blurred morning. I try to swallow, but can only smack my lips together dryly. Confused at first, my sluggish brain begins to recollect the events of the previous day. Oh yea, Christmas.
Finding my other slipper sock wedged between the sleeping dog and the bathtub, I shuffle my way to the kitchen for coffee. Passing through the family room, I kick a ball of crumpled wrapping paper out of the way and tread over scattered pine needles.
My sock sticks to something spilled and dried on the kitchen floor, and as I look down, I notice a half-eaten chocolate chip cookie peeking out from under the stove. Ugh, I don’t care if I ever eat another one of those again in my life.
The coffee is lukewarm. The two-hour timer kicked off a half hour ago, and I notice that the microwave clock reads 10:23 am. The poor dog, I need to take him out, I realize, but then recall that he had binged on new dog treats the night before and was probably still sleeping it off.
As I sip from my cup, I glance bleary-eyed around the room.
Wrapping paper and ribbon are everywhere. At first, I tried to maintain control, telling the kids to put the paper in a trash bag after each present was opened and the bows in a box to be reused. But soon, everyone was under the influence of Christmas Day and could not be responsible for their actions.
Unmatched halves of shirt boxes are on chairs, tables, and under the piano. A new sweater I gave my husband is crumpled beside his lounge chair, covered in what seems like a thousand wires he had to untwist to free a new Polly Pocket speedboat from its packaging.
I contemplate cleaning up the mess, but decide I will need a lot more coffee, and plop down into the chair to wait for the caffeine to take effect. Even the poor tree looks tired – the angel is cocked sideways and I count three burned out bulbs on the drooping branches.
Despite the pile of rubble before me, I must admit, the days before had been fun.
We fought the crowds at the mall, while listening to Johnny Mathis crooning “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” in the background. We filled our shopping carts with hams, chocolate chips, cream cheese, candy canes and tiny loaves of pumpernickel bread.
We attended four parties and threw one ourselves. As always, my husband and I made fools of ourselves on the dance floor at his office’s annual holiday shindig, and regrettably, someone snapped a photo of me doing a sad version of the Cabbage Patch dance that went out of style in 1987.
We had survived on cocktail meatballs, cookies and hot dip for nearly a week. Thanks in large part to guzzling eggnog, my blood was coursing with a fresh supply of excess fat and cholesterol, and the mere thought of licking another candy cane caused my insulin levels to surge.
We sang the Christmas carols we’d been singing our whole lives, and screwed up the words like we do every year. We watched our favorite movies – National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (my husband’s favorite), The Polar Express (the kids’ favorite,) and It’s a Wonderful Life (my favorite) – and I cried like I always do when Clarence gets his wings.
We stuffed ourselves with stuffed mushrooms and beef tenderloin before stuffing ourselves into the car to go to Christmas Eve Mass. I got a little misty during the Christmas pageant, and my husband got a little sleepy during the homily.
The kids woke us early on Christmas morning, not realizing that we had been up until 2 am wrapping, and tore into the gifts whose purchase price would surprise us on our next credit card bill. We gave until all had been given, then lazed the day away in our pajamas.
It was fun. Too much fun.
Too much spending, too much charging, too much shopping. Too much decorating, too much electricity, too much popcorn popping.
Too much eating, too much drinking, too much baking. Too much giving, too much getting, too much taking.
Too much partying, too much dancing, too much singing. Too much wrapping, too much mailing, too much bell ringing.
Too much merriment, too much joy, too much love. Too much fortune, too much blessing from God above.
Getting up from the recliner for a second cup of coffee, I realize that I am not only ready to face the aftermath of the excesses of Christmas, I am suddenly grateful for it all.
As I trudge back over the pine needles and wrapping paper, I silently say a little prayer, thanking God for giving us so much.