Catherine E. Toth
It's finally over.
The last-minute shopping. The lines at the post office. The daily spread of calories at work.
Now we can get back to our normal routines, ones that used to include getting to the gym after work and eating way less sugar.
Of course, the holidays were good for something.
We met up with old friends. We visited family we haven't seen since last Christmas. We proved that it's possible to be at too many parties, eat too much food and spend too much money — all within three weeks.
And we now have enough bottles of wine, T-shirts, picture frames, smelly lotions, cookbooks, gift cards, earrings, underwear, fuzzy slippers, lip gloss and dark chocolate bars to get us through yet another year.
But all this probably hasn't set in yet.
You see, we're in the middle of the Christmas aftermath, the strangely quiet week between Dec. 25 and New Year's Eve when the only things you really need to do are return gifts and buy sashimi.
It's weird to be caught between holidays, like time has been suspended and everyone waits with bated breath for the annual year change.
It's like we rushed wildly toward Christmas, thrusting credit cards at cashiers and baking cookies like our life depended on it, and now that it's over, we don't know what to do with ourselves.
So we wait for the next major holiday — New Year's — and worry we're missing something.
Do we have enough firecrackers?
Should we pick up mochi?
Are the smoke detectors working?
We start to aimlessly fill our week with busy work.
Maybe we take down the nearly dead Christmas tree and put away the ornaments.
Maybe we brave the dissatisfied crowds at the mall and return the presents that aren't worthy of re-giving.
Or maybe we go back to work, bloated and tired, still nibbling leftover gingerbread and making the yearly promises:
"Next year I'm going to finish my Christmas shopping in October!"
"Next year I'm not going to wait until Christmas to visit my cousins!"
"Next year I won't go into debt buying gifts for people whose last names I don't know!"
Or, if you're like me, you start obsessing about all the calories you've consumed in the past three weeks.
You're worried less about next month's credit card bill than you are about fitting into your jeans tomorrow.
This week, you vow, you're going to sit down and draft your New Year's Resolutions — the ones you're convinced you won't break like last year.
Run the marathon.
Write the novel that will change your life forever.
Sure you will.
As soon as you get through New Year's.