Well…the holidays are over, and now it’s time to get back to work for a rest.

I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted. You see, I have four children and two dogs. I am very clear on the origin of two inventions: rum-laced egg nog, and tranquilizer darts.

The excitement started building around the end of November when my neighbours, darn them, began stringing up Christmas lights. The stores started bustling. The Breakfast With Santa and Santa Claus Parade were held on the first weekend of December.

Given that a month represents a fairly large percentage of a child’s life, that’s an awful lot of lead time for kids. They say young children are like sponges, and this is true: by the time we picked up a tree in mid-December, my kids had absorbed so much excitement that all they could do was run around in circles and yell at the top of their voices for an hour after we got it home.

Decorating a tree with youngsters in the house was also more difficult than I’d anticipated. I think 3.5 seconds elapsed between the time I set down the box of baubles and the time my kids had them all on … all crammed into the same patch of tree space at knee height. My husband and I spent most of the evening hoping that the tree would not suddenly collapse like a bad in-store pickle jar display before they went to bed and we could fix it.

What followed was two weeks of constant repetition. The endless Christmas carols? No. Excessive TV advertising? No. I mean those mantras familiar to all parents:

“Don’t touch.”
“I said don’t touch.”
“What did I just say?!”
“Don’t make me come over there!”
“Boy is Santa ever going to hear about this!!!”

It’s not just the kids that feel the strain of having to be on their best behaviour. Knowing as I did what Father Christmas was going to bring, I was keen to see my kids’ reaction to it all, and keeping secrets proved to be tough. Meanwhile, I’ve been after my husband to clean up his language. He works with computers, and it’s been said that you never truly know how to swear until you’ve used a computer. Nagging wasn’t working, so I decided to hit him where it hurt: his chocolate-covered almond stash. The result? A ‘cuss jar’ half-full of the things, but a lot less swearing. Indeed, now when he’s mildly annoyed, he’ll catch himself by saying “almond!” Of course when he’s trodden on stray Lego in bare feet, he has to resort to saying “!@#$–I mean a very large TRUCK full of almonds!”

Yes, the neighbours think we’re eccentric.

It wouldn’t be an Important Event if colds and the ‘flu weren’t involved somehow. Indeed, illness combined with schedule interruptions, and all the special events turned out to be too much excitement to sustain. By the time the 24th rolled around, there were tantrums nearly every five minutes. My kids threw quite a few as well.

All that said, Christmas Day was a joy. There was that kitchen problem mid-morning (You know how in the movies, faucets suddenly blow twenty feet into the air, spewing water everywhere? This, apparently, is not an exaggeration.), but otherwise it went well. My kids’ reactions were every bit as good as I’d hoped and more. We had family over; the meal was a success. My husband and I ended the day with a toast to having pulled it off.

Of course, there is still the aftermath. The 3000 pieces of Lego that need a ‘storage solution.’ The thank you cards. The pine needles, which, like cicadas, burrow into your carpet to hibernate for up to 17 years, emerging only to breed more pine needles. The wrapping paper and boxes to recycle…

Sigh. I think I’ll go have one last egg nog. And another temper tantrum.

Photo credit: SuKd/Pixabay


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