We all have it this time of year, don't we? That sudden deflation of spirit. The storm after the calm. The end of the year blues.
Christmas has come and gone, and though it may have brought with it all the joy a credit card can buy, it extracts a price we will struggle to pay for the rest of the year.
It never says goodbye. It just quietly slips away as we start to clean up its mess.
But it's a mess of our own making. And we know it.
With every poorly received gift, we are reminded.
We are reminded of these shortcomings each and every time our kids ignore new toys and opt instead to play their old familiar game of "I'm bored."
We can't help but point out the irony we could just as easily apply to ourselves.
As we worry about space, and how little we have of it now that an entire aisle of Target has been transported to our living rooms via the magic of the season and a few trips in the good ol' SUV.
“You don't even play with the things you have ...”
We don't want to admit it, but we know we have a tendency to sabotage the season. We compare it, maybe not to our neighbor's or our friends, but to our inflated expectations.
It's kind of sad how much we invest in this Ponzi scheme of a holiday, hoping the tangible will offer a bridge to the intangible on which we can cross some raging waterway safely.
It doesn't usually work that way.
But we all know the word usually is filled with hope and possibilities. "Usually" doesn't mean never. And as long as there is hope there should be effort. And where there is effort there should be reward.
But when there is no reward what is left?
Or maybe it's why we have a whole holiday dedicated to resolutions exactly one week after overindulging on this glut of good will.
This year will be different; we tell ourselves. This year we will perfect our traditions, and they will be more than satisfying. They will be sustaining.
The thing I think we forget is that no matter what happens, this year can be different. And it can be better ...
Even if we buy too much ...
Or eat too much ...
Or don't get exactly what we wanted ...
We don't have to lose 10 pounds ...
Or get a better job ...
Or become our best selves overnight ...
But we have to stop dwelling in those places.
We have to move on.
I suppose I learned just that this year when the best present in the world … the twelve-piece big-girl bed set was all wrong. Wrong color, wrong fabric, wrong style.
It wasn't until we returned it a few days after Christmas that I understood, getting it wrong might have been the best thing after all.
We got to be together, enjoying each other's company.
We walked. We talked.
Noticed smiles and smiled back.
All because I made a mistake.
So maybe we shouldn't worry so much about meeting expectations.
Or even playing by the rules.
Maybe we should just play through … even when the rules keeping changing and there's no way to win.
The rules are universal anyway:
Lose with grace.
Win with kindness.
Downtime has a way of turning itself around especially when you're not paying it much attention.