The morning after Christmas -- the day you wake up and realize that the craziness of Christmas preparations is over. I wander slowly through the house this morning, gazing at the decorations that have just a bit more time left on display. There is a peacefulness in knowing that this most beautiful of seasons is drawing to a close. Yesterday was the culmination of a month of planning and frenzied activity, and today I can relax in the knowledge that all went well and I can now savor the few remaining days of the season in more quiet pursuits.
I have many lovely memories from this Christmas to hold in my heart -- a holiday tea, my afternoon at the Altamont Victorian Celebration, my grandson's preschool pageant, a visit with a beloved aunt & uncle, a quiet supper with my brother-in-law, Christmas Eve church services, and an after-church gathering in my nephew's home.
On Christmas morning we lingered over coffee, bagels and cinnamon buns, and then I prepared a casserole of mushrooms, onions and shallots to roast at my son's house. We gathered there in the afternoon -- all of my children, their families, a family friend, my father-in-law, sister-in-law and her family -- sipping wine, enjoying appetizers, opening gifts, and savoring the aroma of an herbed beef tenderloin slowly roasting. The little ones were precious in their Christmas finery -- giggling and tumbling together like little puppies. I helped set the tables, enjoying the breathtaking view of the Berkshire mountains from the dining room window. A dusting of snow covered the ground, a fire softly burned in the woodstove, and dusk slowly turned to the darkness of a winter evening.
Dinner was delicious, and we lingered at the table, talking and laughing -- not really wanting the day to come to an end. But, with tired body and full heart, I finally acknowledged my sleepiness, and we headed for home. Better than any gift I received, were the hugs and kisses from my precious little grandchildren -- children filled with the wonder and innocence of Christmas.
And, now I sit here quietly, so thankful that the day ahead is unscheduled. I look forward to the days between Christmas and the New Year with pleasurable anticipation -- time for myself, with no holiday activities that require planning or work -- time to relax over tea with a favorite cousin, maybe a trip to the bookstore to use one of my gift certificates, early mornings when I can linger as I am now, with coffee at hand. I love the Christmas season in all of its harried splendor, and I still feel the excitement of a child on Christmas morning, but I think possibly what I love best is the morning after.