Christmas 2006 in the McPhail household is officially over.
Relatives have been seen, gifts exchanged, and the tree has been undecorated, dragged outside and set aflame for a giant weenie and s'mores roast (good thinkin', Zachariah).
Fortunately for us all, this year was pretty uneventful--especially compared to years past. I know that one year, my Grandma faked a heart attack and we all spent the night in the ER (somebody needed attention, apparently). One year, while passing out gifts, the hulking 9-foot Christmas tree (fully loaded with enough glass ornaments to fill a Pier One) fell over and almost took me and my brother out permanently. (A vast majority of the ornaments shattered on the tile floor, which in turn almost led to the amputation of our feet from all of the glass that became embedded in them.) One year, my house burned down. Yep, true story.
When I was younger, Christmas was this looming date of tremendous excitement and endless contemplation. It seems as though it eventually became more of a chore--so much work shopping and decorating, visiting relatives that I would rather not see at all, arranging travel plans and work schedules in order to meet deadlines and such. Having kids brought the excitement back, for sure, and reestablished the pleasure of so many Christmas customs. For that I am thankful.
However, there is a part of me that is always relieved to take down the tree, clear out the tinsel and lights, and throw away the boxes and bows. To feel relieved that we made it through another Christmas with family intact, loved ones nearby, and to mourn the loss of those whom we are without for the first time at the holidays. And to take a breath and say a prayer that we will all be together to celebrate Christmas another year.