The day after Christmas was usually one of the best and one of the worst days of the year for our family. If that doesn’t make sense to you, don’t worry, I’m not sure it does to me either. But let me try to explain.
It was the best because:
There were now 364 more shopping days until Christmas.
It was the one day of the year when perhaps the kids were just as tired as we were, and they’d sleep off and on all day.
All the build up for the Big Day was finally over, and the noise level in the house had dropped about 20 decibels.
I didn’t have to cook since we had all those leftovers from Christmas dinner. (If we didn’t have a big Christmas dinner, I was in trouble on that score.)
The kids would decide they liked each other after all, and we could go the whole day without a fight – maybe.
The kids would invite me to color with them, or play a game, and we could share some really good times together – as long as they let me win now and then.
But every coin has its flip side, and the other side of this day was:
After the glitter and tinsel of Christmas, after the giving and receiving, the celebrating, singing and eating, we could all sit back, unbutton the waistband of our pants and try to decide who would clean up the mess.
Who would get to spend the next four days sorting through the thousand-and-one little pieces of games, toys, and puzzles that in less than one day managed to get tossed together from one end of the house to another?
On Christmas day, nobody seemed to care, but the day after nobody was being nice anymore, and the house was filled with moaning and wailing and the sounds of blood-letting and bones breaking …
“Find that Stratego piece or I’ll break your arm off and beat you over the head with it!”
“I never touched your Stratego game! Mommeee!!”
I guess four days out of my life wasn’t too much to ask.
Who would dig through the 22 bags of trash to find the instructions for assembling the model airplane, because, for once in his life, a kid cleaned up after himself and threw them away with the wrapping paper? (Since that same kid would think nothing of digging through the neighbors’ trash to see if they threw away anything he could put to good use, maybe I could pawn that job off on him. )
Who would accept the challenge of figuring out what to do with all the unidentifiable things we received as gifts, such as the strange looking thing from Aunt Mildred that could either be a doily or a dishrag.
The gadget from Uncle Willie that favors a Chinese puzzle, but could actually be his eccentric approach to the can opener.
The game that takes an IQ of at least 300 just to open the box.
The funny little knitted things from Aunt Lucy that are either thumb-less mittens or toe warmers.
I could have called them all personally to thank them for the gifts, and hope that somewhere in the conversation they will mention what they are. But that would have taken some of the fun out of lazy summer afternoons when we’d drag this stuff out again and play a new game called “What on Earth is It?”