Let me first of all say that I love the holidays and that the hangover I speak of has nothing to do with alcohol. But the hangover I do have was created by excesses: the excess of eating, doing, using, expecting, gifting, staying awake and talking.
Right now, I wander around the leftovers wondering what happened to my home and me. Six giant trash bags sit outside waiting to be hauled to town, each filled with the evidence of a holiday packed with consumerism and excessive waste. Toys and gadgets that looked beautiful on store shelves had been encased in multiple layers of plastic wrapped tighter than a mummy in an ancient tomb, and all of that fallout has to go somewhere.
Even with a helpful family and six bags of trash piled up, I am still finding wrapping paper wads and plastic tie strips under chairs and between rugs. Most of this marketing overdo is an attempt to make products look advanced and beautiful. Some of the added plastic is included to make the product more user friendly, convenient and customized. In other words, worth the increase in price over last year’s version of the same item. Oh, our poor natural environment. Some of this plastic will be around for a long time and certainly the side effects of manufacturing the wrappings are doing things to our air and water.
My body also is feeling the aftershocks of the holidays. We had such fun during the family gatherings that no one wanted to give in and go to bed. Hugging is a great creature comfort but it does spread ‘bugs’ around. It is predictable that this week Kleenex, aspirin and doctor’s appointments will be precious commodities. On a regular day, I watch what I eat and drink like the books say I should. But on the holidays ‘ wow! Why not celebrate? My stomach cried ‘enough’ several times and my response was to eat faster in order to drown out the warnings. All of those salty snacks have made me blow up like a balloon. Today, I feel like a fat walrus that lies on the beach until it is forced to lumber back to water and action.
Amidst this entire overload is the stack of work that was deferred until ‘after the holidays.’ Ugh! How many e-mails can a person answer in a day? It seemed like almost every organization wanted to remind me that these were the ‘last days to donate in 2009,’ while others wanted to ‘wrap up a project or issue before the end of the year.’
Our whole family was here for about five days. The dirty laundry bin tells the tale, as there is always more spilling on clothes during the increased kitchen activity. Towels mopped up and dried people, floors and, well, you get the idea. Bed sheets covered beds, my kids and grandkids. It was quite a gathering and I loved it. There is nothing like sharing an adventure with those you love.
Now alone in a house of aftershock, I miss the hullabaloo, fun, laughing and talking. It is quiet, and I realize the spirit of love and the awareness of God’s presence comes best in simple times when we really see and hear the important things of life. What I must pray for is that amidst all the trappings of a ‘modern’ commercial holiday festival, I hear the real meaning of Christmas or Hanukkah or New Year’s playing in my soul: God is here and near and will go with us into the possibilities of the new year.
Children, family, friends and festivals are all ways that remind us to sing with the angels ‘ ‘Joy to the world, the Lord has come.’