(Self-Talk) Seven Ways to Get Over the Post-Christmas Thud

Laura’s disclaimer: I feel like a hypocrite posting this today, of all days–as we undecorated our tree and laid her to rest in the woods, next to the previous years’ Fraser fir carcasses. (RIP Gloria and Holly and Ivy and Carol…) Actually, my sweet husband tackled the project while I slept in (I haven’t been feeling well lately). He knows how this chore hurts my heart, and he had the day off work. He is my hero. Still, I emerged in my pajamas and proceeded to ugly-sob at the empty space in our den, setting off our twin 18-year-old daughters as well. Poor Luke.

Can I leave these up all winter, please?
And what is my front door going to do without a wreath? Face the world naked?

My buddy Lanier will probably get after me for writing about The Thud before January 6, or Twelfth Night. But what can I say–I tend toward the snifter half empty. (Recently my mom unearthed some of my first scribblings from a box in her basement and declared some of them “quite dark.” This news comes as relief, proving I am, perhaps, dark by nature, not choice. I had a very lovely childhood–what else but an inborn propensity could induce me to write with an edge at such an early age?)

So even in the days just before Christmas, I start to brace myself. Soon it will all be over. Over, the worst word in the English language. (Unless you’re talking about a visit to the dentist or a football game. Or any sports event, for that matter.)

It happens every year—the passing of Christmas crushes. It’s like a bad break-up. (What to do? Cling to the relationship and torture one’s self with The Songs—or block the calls?) Last January, during one particularly nasty bout of sighing and pouting, Luke reminded me: Jesus still came.

I know. I also know this: the next few weeks=the real bleak midwinter.


(The above carol, with words by poet Christina Rossetti, is my all-time favorite. There are two versions, one by composer Gustav Holte, the other by Harold Darke. The difference in melodies is subtle, but the latter sounds–darker. Guess which version I prefer? Yep, the Darke.)

Over a few decades of getting dumped by December’s end, I’ve found a few ways to soften the blow. For those who struggle with reentry:

1. Have a good cry. This advice is universal, applying to all kinds of situations. I come from a life-time of stuffing it. But I’m stuffing no more! It’s my Christmas, and I’ll cry if I want to.

2. Don’t hit the sales racks. It’s depressing, my friends. What once looked sparkling shines no longer. The holiday section at Target looks like vultures landed and picked at the clearance merchandise, leaving only bloodied scraps. I texted Lanier this picture two days after Christmas:



But then I found this:

BUY TWO, Lanier texted.

3. Plan something fun for the very near future. The spouses have promised to take us to a favorite old Italian ristorante in a few weeks to toast Golden Hours–and to give us an excuse to wear something fancy. (We have married excellent men.)

4. Clean your house (but don’t go crazy). Spruce up a room, rearrange the furniture, or sweep the porch. Put magnolia or boxwood on the kitchen table–or a big bowl of oranges. Your house will need a little love after your Christmas pretties disappear. Only don’t work too hard, because

5. It’s time to rest! Bring on the hygge! Cozy up, read a book in the middle of the day, and take a break from Facebook, because FB isn’t warm and fuzzy. And by all means, wear fluffy socks.


6. (Slowly) set goals. Dream impossible dreams. What will 2017 look like? I’m not talking resolutions. I’m talking about being intentional. How can you re-enchant your life? (More on this later.)

7. It’s winter, and the start of winter at that. Lean into it. (Easy to say from where I sit in Georgia, I realize.) Sketch a tree in its bare-branched beauty. Take a cold weather walk. Make soup, then make another pot for a neighbor. Buy a fern or four and nurse them through the coldest months. Take at least one steaming hot bath per day, with salts and one of the dozens of Christmas-scented candles you haven’t burned through.


  1. “How can you re-enchant your life?”

    Oh my goodness, yes, please write more. What a beautiful question to ponder.

  2. Not trying to push my beliefs but as Catholics that’s why Christmas doesn’t truly really start until Christmas and it lasts until Epiphany. It’s very heart warming to KNOW that when the world is all done and finished with Christmas we are just beginning the celebration. We are experiencing that new born baby now. We are loving Him and cherishing His coming and God’s love for us in sending Him. It’s has nothing to do with the world out there but the birth of Our Savior in our hearts, minds and souls. It really is special to have these days to hang on to. It’s more peaceful, more silent, more calm and more possible to feel His presence.

    1. You are a woman after Lanier’s twelve-days-of-Christmas heart. And I do agree, although I’m not as good at keeping Christmas through Epiphany as my friend and blog co-founder. This year, circumstances (health, kids leaving, husband going back to work downtown, an impossibly busy weekend coming up, and a very dry tree) dictated that our tree come down yesterday. I also get to the point that I’m so sad it’s all winding down, I want to rip off the Band-Aid and get it over with. But your point is well spoken, and it’s something I’m working on.

  3. These are all great suggestions. I second the one about visiting the Target Christmas section…ugh. Not much more disheartening than that sight on December 28.

    I have another suggestion, something that I discovered a few years ago that has made a big difference for me. I started buying bright, shiny things to put up in my family room and living room in January and February. Large candles, knick-knacks made of reflective surfaces, battery-lit decorations (classy ones only, of course)…and white. Lots of white. I spend a day or two with bare surfaces after the Christmas decor is gone, then I put out all of my sparkly, shiny, winter-y stuff. And as soon as the sun even hints at dipping below the horizon in the afternoon, I light everything that lights and I bask in the glow. It has made such a big difference in the way my home feels during the bleak midwinter. On March 1, I take it all down and replace it with spring-y things (I probably need a twelve-step program for people who over-decorate seasonally), but for those two dark, dull months of January and February, my winter decor lifts my spirits.

    As a bonus, many shiny, sparkly, but non-Christmas-y items are actually sold as part of stores’ Christmas sections, which means you can get them for 50% off or more. That is, if you’re willing to ignore tip #2 and brave the decimated Christmas sections…

    1. What! I love this idea. I want sparkly things for winter, too! Would you, could you send us a photo or two? I have seasonal decorating disorder as well — but sounds like you take it to new heights. Love it!

      1. I’m happy to send a couple of photos. Just tell me where to send them! Or can I copy and paste here…? I’ve never added a photo to a comment box, and I don’t know if that can be done.

  4. Those T-shirts – a small mercy, I’d say!!

    Oh my goodness – that shopping experience might be enough to make anybody pack up and be done with Christmas for another year! It all looks so pathetic – but you did make the telling of it funny.

    I’m a twelve days Christmas person too, except for the tree. (I’m sorry – that probably sounds just about sacrilegious to you and Lanier – it being your favourite and all). Living in a small apartment, it just starts to overwhelm me with its beautiful busy! All the candles, angels and nativity figures and a few small sprigs of holly and ivy remain on the mantle, the antique dresser, and the window sills, until Epiphany… and then its just candles and greenery (and a wee bit of sad).

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