The PH Blues

If I played guitar, not in a strumming- sing-around-the-campfire kind of way, but more like Bonnie Raitt’s slide guitar that moans melancholy and emanates yearning with every string, I’d pick up that instrument today and compose the post-holiday blues. It would be a moody lamentation of woe because it is over, you know, the season of goodwill, family gatherings, and unending excuses to drink 25 percent saturated fat eggnog and eat Christmas cookies, because what other time of year do you get frosting on a cookie? Compounding the “over-ness” of the whole deal is the Arctic blast and wind chill advisories we’re currently experiencing, as if the atmosphere itself knows the jig is up and provides the chill ambiance signifying the end. Just like late night at a bar when the overhead lights are turned on telling patrons to head home, the holiday also seems to end abruptly, saying, “Put down your drink, stop dancing, the party is over.”

Yes, of course, I have deep gratitude for all the holiday blessings bestowed. From good friends joining family at the table, decorating a live evergreen to wild games of Pictionary and carols sung in harmony, these yuletide days bring out the best in us where the biggest gift we give and receive is time spent together. No “bah humbug” there at all. My expression of discontent comes afterwards and is less cynical and more heavy-hearted.

My daughter gave me a perfectly sound reason why this post-holiday malaise happens. She explained that it is directly proportional to the amount of time spent preparing for the event. I think she is right, and, yes, I have begun to notice how often that is the case. Think about it, these days, stores start playing “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” before Thanksgiving. That’s well over a month of preparation and expectation that only escalates in intensity as December 25 draws near. Therefore, she theorizes, it takes a bit of time to de-escalate the holiday high, reprogramming ourselves to normalcy, to life without sparkling things, like tinsel and merriment. This explanation is good for me. I feel much better, even comforted, having recognized my ailment, a sort of postpartum response to having birthed a holiday.

So where from here? There’s the eventual taking down and packing away holiday decorations, the Herculean chore of eating the leftovers crammed on every refrigerator shelf, the puzzle of finding receipts and returning the not-quite-right gifts, and the pointless deliberation of deciding whether or not it’s too late to send Christmas cards. By the way, to any of my friends reading this, in my book, it is never too late. Oh, the hell with it, it’s probably too late, so do me the favor of considering this your card: Happy Holidays! Hooray, something else off my list!

As the new year is already upon on us with all sorts of resolutions staring us down, I personally am not yet ready to contemplate, plan, and begin. Instead, I’ll augment my diminishing supply of eggnog with Captain Morgan Spiced Rum, listen to my daughter play the ukulele and sing a particularly soul stirring “White Christmas,” while I appreciatively watch the needles fall gracefully from my tree.