With the hoopla of Christmas and New Year celebrations coming to a close, it’s time to deal with holiday leftovers. I’m thinking about leftover Christmas paraphernalia of all types — from food and decorations to leftover feelings.
Dealing with either, or both, physical and emotional leftovers is sometimes rather unpleasant. Unfortunately, I know of no solution but to grit your teeth and get on with the work involved.
Sometimes you can re-frame the tasks to make a fun experience. Playing some dance music or favourite tunes may help to set the mood.
My grand-daughter has been visiting this week during school break so we’ve made games out of putting away the Christmas ornaments and decorations. She’s enjoyed these tasks as much as she enjoyed the pre-Christmas decorating. Watching a child’s delight makes any task great fun — although it takes more time to finish!
Dealing with holiday leftovers also allows for a second helping of Christmas memories. This is the time to spend evenings sitting in the twilight and considering what the holidays meant in terms of your life, your family, and what’s to come in the new year.
Regardless of how tidy you might be in terms of housekeeping, physical evidence of the holidays likely fills most rooms of your home.
I used to try saving wrapping paper, gift bags, ribbon, and gift boxes. Over the years I’ve realized that this is useless. Used wrappings never look good the second time around plus they create unnecessary clutter. Now I flatten them and stuff them in the re-cycling bin. Next year, I’ll find new wrappings and bows — after all, that’s why dollar stores exist!
My husband keeps Christmas cards until he can note address changes and make a list of who sent cards to us. He has a Christmas card log that goes back for years. Although I tease him about this, I find his fastidious records helpful at times. I gather the cards and leave them on his desk (out of sight, out of mind, etc). Eventually, he finishes his log and throws out the cards.
The fridge full of leftover food poses another type of problem. After the initial joy of easy sandwich lunches, it’s time to examine all the containers and foil wrapped packages to see what can be used and what needs to be tossed.
I’m not prepared to wear the leftovers as post-holiday weight gain and leftover food and alcohol leads to poor choices. Some treats, like excess shortbread cookies might be frozen. Our West Indian fruit cake, gets another soaking of rum and fresh air-tight wrappings. On a sunny winter afternoon we’ll eat it along with a cup of tea.
There’s nothing sadder than a leftover Christmas tree with no brightly wrapped gifts hiding the tree skirt. When my sister was alive, I kept the tree until after January 6 (twelfth night) so that I could light it in honour of her birthday. Now, I’m ready to find the plastic storage tubs and pack away decorations soon after New Year celebrations. I still remember my sister’s birthday on twelfth night and have a special toast in her honour — without worrying about lights on a tree!
Christmas planters and Christmas flowers looked wonderful in the days leading up to the holidays. Now, the outdoor planter displays are drooping or damaged from recent windstorms. The once-beautiful Christmas centrepiece on the dining room table is drying up. The poinsettias will continue blooming until spring but somehow they scream that there is leftover Christmas style in the house. Out with the poinsettias!
Dealing with emotional leftovers is more difficult.
Often a general malaise happens in the post holiday week or two. It could be lethargy from consuming too many sugary foods and drinks. Experiencing some type of come down is quite normal as the holidays are exhausting. Going back to regular routines of exercise, nutrition, and sleep, can help ease the transition.
Leftover feelings from family gatherings pose a different problem. Family dynamics at holiday gatherings can be challenging. Apologies may be needed. It’s important to let go of holiday hurts as leftover negative feelings can grow and eat away at your general happiness.
Positive and happy events also result in leftover feelings. Although the excitement is over, fun activities don’t have to stop on January 1. I like to make plans to stay connected with friends and family. Others make plans for a winter holiday. Taking a course to learn new skills or joining a new club are also options. I find that looking forward to something new keeps me excited and motivated.
Readers will find that dealing with holiday leftovers brings energy and renewed perspective. Like clearing the decks to prepare for a storm, dealing with leftovers makes for a strong start to the new year.