Christmas is over. Did you survive? I have incurred some battle scars. A pinched nerve in my neck from all the gift-wrapping, a swollen knee from mopping floors and vacuuming, irregularity from all the cookies, peanut brittle and wine, not to mention the extra 5 pounds that have showed up around my middle.

It’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, but Christmas can also be the most awkward time of the year, and it seems hurt feelings come with the territory. Like when a friend drops by with a beautiful gift for you, but you somehow forgot them this year. Or when your kid participates in a secret Santa gift exchange at school and goes a little overboard gift-wise and in return gets a secret Santa who either didn’t or couldn’t give much in return. That one is tough because you teach your children that it’s the thought that counts, but it may not feel that way to your child.

This Christmas, I definitely spoiled my kids again, much to the annoyance of my husband, Maury, who would be happy if we all sat around the living room and exchanged one gift each, preferably a book, and then went for a family hike. As lovely and Amish as that sounds, that is not the type of Christmas I grew up with, and it is the tradition of spending way beyond our means that I have now passed on to my children. Oops. 

Pulling off such an obscene display of commercialism is no easy feat. I happily do all the shopping, but trying to keep all the gifts for five kids even and fair can be a dangerous game. Do you count the number or the actual cost of the gifts? I am still not sure, and my overdrawn bank account proves it.

Christmas Eve upon us, I headed out to deliver my gifts to my friends and neighbors while periodically checking the status of a package at the UPS website on my phone. I was in a panic and distracted. No wonder I delivered a gift to a very dear friend whom I have known for years to the wrong house! Yes, I noticed the unfamiliar car in the driveway, and the new paved stairway. 

“Hmmm… They must be doing well this year,” I thought to myself, while leaving my big gift bag next to the front door of a complete stranger. 

It all worked out in the end. Her husband came by with her gift for me, and we straightened it all out, but I am sure he may have suspected early onset Alzheimer’s. To be honest, I am a bit concerned myself!

We put such expectations on Christmas and ourselves and our family for that matter. It’s no wonder they disappoint us. Lugging bag after bag of groceries through the door, I made sure to slam it every time so my husband and oldest son, who were watching a basketball game, would notice I needed help. They didn’t even flinch. They didn’t even glance my way! I groaned loudly as I struggled with a 35-count case of water. Still no reaction! OOOOOH! 

“Thanks for all the HELP!” I screamed at them, their heads finally turning toward me. 

“What’s wrong?” they asked.

Men. That’s what’s wrong. But in their defense, I guess I could have asked for their help before I started unloading groceries and spared them my academy-award winning performance of Scarlett O’Hara in “Gone With the Wind.”

 There is no denying that Christmas stirs up all kinds of emotions, and your heart does seem more open and vulnerable this time of year. In our family, we experienced the joy of our oldest daughter becoming engaged! We also endured our first Christmas without my vibrant sister-in-law, Cindy. My brother and his children showed amazing strength, and more smiles than tears. I know Cindy was with us. I like to think someone else was too.

As we move toward the new year, I am thinking about what my New Year’s resolution will be. I’ve decided to borrow this one from my brother Tom: 

Appreciate your loved ones daily. Tell them you love them, and don’t sweat the small stuff.

 Happy New Year!