Almost one month later, the never-ending holiday ends

We returned the unwanted gifts to the stores in time for the 30-day return limit.

I packed up the ornaments, took down the artificial tree, vacuumed, undecorated the mantle, and got Jimmy to help me put the Christmas things in the attic. Then I went outdoors and stripped the yard of ornaments.


I signed and stamped my second batch of holiday cards. I had ordered some with the New Year’s theme, knowing I’d never make a Christmas deadline. I bought some Taza chocolates and Effie’s oatcakes, local products to send to friends in Germany and son Eli in Burlington, VT.

This morning, I mailed the cards and packages. New postal clerk in Brookline Village: very friendly and efficient.

post office

I declare Christmas officially done. It’s been a long month.

What will I do differently next year? It was fun having dinner at our house; I would cook again, and perhaps the same meal. But the whole presents scheme must change. Next year, it will be quality over quantity. I ended up returning a lot of the gifts bought for the teenaged Gutermans and giving them cash to buy what they want. In the future, I will (a) not shop at TJ Maxx and Marshall’s, which I love and they seem to hate, and (b) buy one special gift, fill the stockings, and give the rest in cash.

I will send holiday cards again. I haven’t done that in years, and I enjoyed the opportunity to reminisce about my cousins and childhood family friends and simply write by (private) hand and not via social (and public) media. At my sister Sally’s suggestion, I made a file with all the addresses in it, so that will be streamlined next year. I even added a few names of people I intend to send cards to next year; this year I ran out.

Here’s the New Year’s card photo, taken August 2012:

Mighty Gutermans

Also, now that the big push of Christmas is behind me and the choke points of the semester still to come, I am going to attempt to blog much more frequently, even if most of the offerings are slight. The accumulation of a lot of small gestures may add up.

It’s a new year and time for new experiments.

4 thoughts on “Almost one month later, the never-ending holiday ends

  1. For various reasons, we didn’t even get up a tree or Christmas decorations this year. We did have a paper Advent calendar, and the Advent wreath was brought out but barely used. We didn’t bring out this cool wooden Advent calendar that I got years ago at 10,000 Villages, despite the kids’ urging. (Guess they are too afraid to go rummaging around in the attic by themselves.) In some ways it was disappointing, but in other ways, it was less stressful. I DO want to put up a tree again next year, but the slower Christmas pace was nice – more like what it was hundreds of years ago when Christmas was a minor holiday. (Mardi Gras/Carnival, on the other hand, was much bigger. Don’t know if I have the energy for that, but at least it’s over a more extended time period.)

    I love getting the cards, so know it is appreciated.

    • I like the tree, and ours is artificial, pre-strung with lights, so not much of a chore to get it out of the attic and decorate it. Gave up on the hassle of the real tree, with the daily watering and vacuuming, years ago. To me, it’s more about the lights and the ornaments than the scent of balsam.

      My secret dream is to have a Little House in the Big Woods holiday: an orange in the Christmas stocking and a doll from the family friend. Maybe Pa would play his fiddle.

  2. Your idea about presents is good. My family made an agreement to go easier at Christmas and it’s been a much stressful holiday ever since. Adam and I don’t even exchange presents most of the time.

    • Good to hear. I think we’re going to have this conversation early. It would be too abrupt to try to work it out on Dec. 10, which is usually when I start feeling the stress. Must agree on this now, when heads are cool.

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