Every December 26th I wake up with the same thought: I can’t believe Christmas is over. Despite my best effort to hold on to the season a little bit harder, to make it last a little bit longer, and to live in the joyous moments of baking cookies with my husband, snuggling my nephews in my lap, and singing carols at the dinner table, it comes and goes the same way every year. On the heels of Thanksgiving we’re thrust into a whirlwind of mall traffic, long lines, bad customer service, writing out cards until your hand cramps, wrapping presents until your back aches, baking cookies until there’s no more counter space…all in anticipation of the big day. But then the big day comes and goes, barreling through our lives like an express train, with no way to stop it or even slow it down. While December 25th is one of the happiest, most magical days of the year, December 26th is actually sort of depressing.
Walking through my home today, humming left-over Christmas carols that are still stuck in my head, I have what I can only describe as a joy hangover. Unlike an alcohol-induced hangover, in which you wake up to a headache and regrets, this morning I woke up to heartache and a million little reminders of the gone-too-fast holiday: scraps of wrapping paper and shards of ribbon strewn beneath the couches and tables, glitter ground into the carpet, a tower of empty shipping boxes teetering by the door, and strands of LED lights waiting to be taken down and boxed up until next year.
I spent the morning pondering the cure for a joy hangover and here’s what I’ve learned so far: it’s not two Tyenol and a glass of water. It’s not buckling down and diving back into work. It’s not checking e-mail or perusing the post-Christmas clearances online. It’s not trying to forget about Christmas and focus on New Year’s Eve. It’s giving thanks. Thanks for the wonderful family and friends that made this holiday season complete, for the opportunity to write and send my work out into the world for others to read, and for the most basic of things that are all too easy to take for granted – food, clothing, and shelter – and most of all, a life full of love.
The cure for a joy hangover? A heaping spoonful of gratitude. Served warm.
As you count your own blessings, stop by Reader Unboxed and check out my review of The Murderer’s Daughters by Randy Susan Meyers. No matter how much or little you may have, this story will make you thankful for every last blessing in your life.
How do you cure your joy hangover?