I felt the heaviness of the ending the moment it was over. Like suddenly the lights on the tree weren't so bright and I couldn't believe how much space I'd lost in the living room - happily given up in anticipation a month ago, now facing the dreaded tear down that needs to happen but leaves me empty.
I adore Christmas. I just wish it didn't leave me breathless, craving a week of straight sleep, just one moment to rest my feet...a cabin in the woods with just myself and a keyboard...
There's joy in the excitement of children - even in their hyper, bounce-off-the-wall, break the nativity Mary (which made me want to cry). There's joy in the gathering. There's joy in the food. There's joy in the reason. There's joy in the laughing later over the things that almost had me a snivelling mess in the kitchen...
Just a birthday cake. That's all I'm responsible for. A birthday cake for Jesus because the kids would like it. Because it's a fun way to remember.
I thought I was being clever and time saving by using a boxed mix. Double layer carrot cake. Cream cheese icing. Adorable little Baby Jesus in a manger with a doting lamb beside to lay atop. Easy, right?
The cake splits coming out of the pan. Crumbles into the icing as I spread it. Poor Jesus sinks down in the top like he's drowning in a sea of white caps and red sugar sprinkles. And I am furious! It's Christmas Eve. Santa gets delicious homemade cookies and eggnog and Baby Jesus gets a war zone.
Noa watches me fume..."It's o-tay, Mommy," as I struggle to glue things back together with more icing.
Scott comes in, half-grin. My irritation amuses him.
"This is a waste of my life!"
And he laughs.
"Mommy's weeeeeal fwustwated!"
If I don't pull it together I'm going to get coal in my stocking. So I give up. Cover it. Put it away for the night. It's not worth it.
In the morning there is a fissure through it, cracked down the centre, pieces flopped to the side...Dear eight pound, six ounce infant Baby Jesus, please forgive me...I have no gift to bring, Pa-Rumpa-Pum-Pum!...
Coffee gurgles and the children open their stockings. I make the waffles and cut the strawberries and fry the sausage and add extra marshmallows to the hot chocolate. Gifts are opened and the intense lego building begins.
And I observe this mess. This creation that has un-created itself before it could be called anything worth mentioning. So I make pies. And the house smells like cinnamon. Like Grandma's. And it doesn't matter anymore - that mistake. I'm already forgiven.
Jesus probably prefers pie anyway.
And now it's over. Garland already dusty. Snow heavy and dirty.
And I'm ready for summer. Or a really good vacation. Pa-Rumpa-Pum-Pum!