The gifts have been bought (or made), wrapped and unwrapped. The wrapping paper has been strewn about the house and then wrangled into garbage bags. Countless cardboard boxes litter the garage waiting for room in the recycling bin. Toys have been assembled; games have been played. The kids are overstimulated with new toys and sounds in the house and bounce from one gift to the next, frenetically attempting to play with everything at once.
The tree stands as it did before, decorated, devoid of presents beneath it simply because I don't have the energy to prevent a curious two-year-old from unwrapping prematurely. It already seems a bit out of place with the anticipation of the day gone. Our elf visited, bopped around to various high perches in our home, observed, reported and disappeared the night before Christmas Eve.
We have piles of gifts in random areas of the house. They are a little like the new kid in school that no one knows where to place in the echelon. It will be weeks before the new things find their permanent homes. It reminds me of the need to purge some of the old things.
When I first became a mother, and for the first 4 years or so following, I felt a let-down after Christmas. The anticipation over, the impending undecorating and the knowledge that the return to the usual routine would arrive and leave me wondering where the time went. These days the day after Christmas arrives and all I feel is relief that it is over.
The stress is gone and in its place I find a sense of contentment. I look forward to the return of the normal routine. The ordinary days are the days I can best enjoy my family. There is not as much rushing about trying to get everything done. I can watch my children play and imagine and enjoy. I don't have to worry that I haven't done enough.
It is enough. Until next year.