A Christmas Hangover

December 25th, 4:00 p.m. The presents have been opened. The ham has been devoured. I am sick to my stomach from the overabundance of sweets, and I am starting to wonder where the overabundance of gifts are going to go. I officially have a Christmas hangover.

Now, don’t mistake my yuletide laments for a Scrooge-like hatred of Christmas. I love the Christmas season, especially all the colorful lights. A favorite activity of mine is scouring pages and pages of Black Friday deals on Amazon to find the perfect gift for each person on my list. Furthermore, nothing beats a cup of hot cocoa (with marshmallows, thank you!) and a Hallmark Christmas movie marathon.

However, Christmas Day itself leaves me with a little bit of a hangover (and not because I had too much peppermint schnapps in my hot chocolate). When the presents are all unwrapped and the pictures of perfect outfits have been taken, I always feel left in a state of chaos. There is so much stuff to put away, the fluffy Christmas feelings are gone, and 48 hours with my family (including a 3-year-old on a nap strike and sugar high) has caused me to start questioning my sanity.

How have I let Christmas become this stressful? One word: stuff. I learned a lot about myself this year, and I’ve realized a few things.

I lack an organizational “system.”

I think I have known this for years, but I am fed up with the clutter. We have a small house. I don’t have a nice office where I can sort mail and file paperwork, and to be honest, “out-of-sight, out-of-mind” hasn’t ever been an effective debt-paying strategy for me. I need to develop a system so that when I pick up the mail, when my son comes home from preschool with artwork, or when I have extra books and notebooks around that I’m using for a project, I have a process in place for reducing the amount and appearance of clutter.

I woke up frazzled the day after Christmas because my house was just in disarray, but it wasn’t even Christmas stuff. I think going into next Christmas with less clutter and a better organization system will help me feel more in control through the hustle and bustle of the holidays.

Less is more.

This year, I wanted to do a bunch of holiday baking. Baking treats for neighbors and coworkers that help out throughout the year just seemed like the small-town Montana thing to do. Seven different batches of sweets later, I have given out three small tins as gifts, taken a plate to my in-laws for Christmas Eve dinner (half of which came back home to me), and watched two more gift tins that my husband has conveniently “forgotten” to take to his co-workers sit on the counter for three days.

Why all the crap? Buying copious amounts of butter for all of that holiday baking is not cheap, and those recipients would have probably enjoyed gift cards or handwritten notes just as much (which would have kept me from drowning in leftover sugar). I hope next year I have enough common sense to rethink my gifts and approach them from a much more minimalist angle. Baking for others can be meaningful, but it isn’t the only way to show appreciation.

My son has too many toys.

I think that every parent probably thinks their kids have too many toys. My husband likes to not-so-jokingly propose that we get rid of all of the toys in our house because “no one plays with them anyway.”

I tried to keep things very minimal this Christmas because I know that my son gets a lot of toys from other family members. Still, our Christmas seemed to really revolve around presents. I hope that next year I can do a better job of conveying to my son that Christmas is about much more than the toys, Santa, and candy. As the only grandchild on both sides, he definitely gets spoiled, but I want to raise him to appreciate the simple things and not be materialistic. I look forward to creating more traditions with him as he grows older and helping him understand the true meaning of Christmas.

My favorite day of the year is December 26th. I wake up, finish all the chores I have put off in the name of holiday cheer, and finally get my house feeling back to normal. The storage bins come out and all of the new toys find their new home in a somewhat-organized playroom, the Christmas decorations get tucked in for a long nap in the basement, and the overflowing amounts of sugar and candy get “regifted” to the garbage truck. It is so refreshing when I can finally turn my attention to goal-setting and preparing my family for the productive and prosperous New Year to come.

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