The pre-Christmas stress that collectively accumulates leading up to THE moment in which it takes four seconds for the kids to rip through their presents is the equivalent of needing the toilet on a long road trip through western Kansas and then finally getting to a gas station.
I feel so much better afterward.
Like, I want to take a nap because I'm so tired and now I finally can, good.
We have no other parties that have required dress codes/levels of hygiene, we have nowhere else we have to be, no more presents to deliver (all while wondering if we did good enough weighing affordability with thoughtfulness).
Now, we can finally relax.
Well, at least until the mess of Christmas starts to wear on us and we go through stages of cleaning up.
Step one: Boxes and wrapping paper find their way to recycling or fire.
Step two: Things make it to the stairs of organization.
Step three: Said things make it to the appropriate owners' rooms.
Step four: They remain on the floor for a month until I say, "You still haven't put this away?!"
Oh Christmas, you're like a messy relative with high expectations who comes to stay for a month. I mean I love you, I'm just not sad to see you go.
I'll dream of our good times while I eat leftovers and nap. When I wake, I'll consider prepping for next year in order to avoid reliving the stress of December. Maybe I'll send Christmas cards in July ... humorous and practical.
In the end, I will get sucked into doing nothing but the laundry, reading instructions for toys and figuring out how to use this Instant Pot, all while not reading the instructions.
In between all the jobs, I will check Facebook and Instagram, where I find nothing of real interest other than historical documentaries about the inbreeding of royal families and videos of bubbles freezing. I will then repeat the following: turn my phone off, put it down, flip it over, walk away for a minute, come back, recheck it, then be annoyed that nothing has changed in the last 60 seconds.
In the time after Christmas and until the kids go back to school, I will stare out the window and wonder what day it is and what I'm meant to be doing. I will check my calendar, with the feeling I'm meant to be somewhere, but since I've written nothing down, I will just shake my head and apologize to no one out loud. I'm sorry no one gave me that ginkgo biloba for Christmas.
Anyway, with the kids done with the flu, I thought we were in the clear but we've been plagued with a few other strings of viruses/the cold and trying to take it easy, which is very difficult with four kids and doesn't help with the Groundhog Day feeling.
I feel like the sandworm from Beetlejuice is just outside waiting to devour us the second we set foot out the door. Oh well, the minus-20-degree temps aren't making the outside that desirable anyway.
I guess we will just continue to stay in and embrace the heat, our thoughtful gifts and the fact that we have nowhere to be (at least we think).
Christmas is finally done.
Jen Reekie was born and raised in Quincy and received a communications degree at the University of Kansas, which has come in quite handy as she communicates every day with four children who don't hear a word she says. This stay-at-home mom enjoys the challenge, though, and shares her experiences in this blog, "Mum's the Word." She welcomes your feedback, questions and stories about staying sane while raising kids.