Post-Holiday Malaise

I’m not the biggest fan of the holidays. Not a Scrooge mind you—I probably fall right in the middle of the bell-curve. But the time of the year right after the holidays always seems to bring with it a downswing in my mood. And I’m not sure I ever really understood it until now.

When I was a kid, I always thought it was the normal back-to-school lethargy. Then in high school and college I reasoned that the abrupt change in schedule just meant I was tired. As I moved into adulthood I attributed it to the annual belt-tightening that naturally follows a period of financial excess. And then as a parent I thought it was just the post-Christmas poverty.

But now I think I just miss the lights.

I’ve never been a big one for going off the deep end with decorations, but during the holidays our house would probably best be compared to a low-rent casino trying to advertise some new promotion. There are mismatched strands of lights, three different inflatables all dressed as Santa—as if Snoopy, Pooh and Tigger are about to rumble for the right to deliver presents (my money’s on Tigger), trees festooned with unbreakable ornaments—half of which were already broken (which I suppose makes them unbreakable in the same way shattered glass is)—and walkways lined with lighted canes and snowflakes.

I know it sounds like a lot, but I’ve got 4 kids. You try telling one that they can’t have their favorite inflatable in the front yard when the other got their snowman decoration staked out in the front yard. I know I could pull rank, but then we’d just be laying down the law for the entire four-week break. And what fun would that be. Parents don’t get the luxury of good taste.

And out house wasn’t even the brightest on the block. The house down the street had a nativity set that not only lit up, but he blanketed the front yard with net lights. The resulting lawn grid made the whole thing look like a manger scene from The Matrix.

Yes it’s all gaudy, and tacky, loud and obnoxious. But now that it’s all gone, the street is just so plain. On a street where all the houses look pretty much the same, mime is no longer distinguished as the one that most interferes with star-watching. Instead it’s the one with the arch in the garden, that you really can’t see because it’s too dark. What fun is that?

It’s all rather like being in Disney World long enough to see them power down the rides for the night.

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