The tree is barren and droopy. The presents are gone, and it looks like an over-decorated drag queen who just got mugged. With a crooked wig and bright red lips, it stands there, broken stiletto in hand, just wanting to slink home and get into some comfy clothes.

Christmas Day, in all its glory.

Morning light dims the magic of Christmas Eve. The used table cloth from the evening meal needs to be washed, the candles have burned down, and cooking prime rib just seems like overkill, when chocolate-covered Oreos would do just fine.

As we know from the Hallmark channel movies, Christmas is an event that takes place largely in one’s soul, if celebrated properly.

In order to facilitate such a spiritual annual awakening, I like to surround myself with unmistakably Christmas-Time things, like hundreds, no, thousands of warm white lights – not the bluish-white ones – that look like miniature candles as evening draws near, fresh greenery that smells like balsam, and glistening, glittering, sparkling baubles of silver and gold. Chocolates, cookies whipped up from worn books that belonged to my mother and her mother are extra heart-warming, and jingling bells and moonlit snows can make me weep with joy.

But by Christmas morning, the beauty is tarnished – like the sludge on the side of the street after a few dirty trucks drive through the new-fallen snow. The house is full of pine needles, the poinsettias need water, the narcissus stalks start to bend, and the batteries in my electronic candles are waning, much like my Christmas spirit.

The infatuation of the season wears off and reality sets in sometime before New Year’s Eve, when I take a long, honest look at my life and make some decisions about the year ahead.

That may be my favorite part of the year-end holidays – the time for reflection and the anticipation of a fresh page.

Yeah… I’m looking forward to that.

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