This was a weird holiday season for me. Not weird in a bad way, just weird in a weird way. Are you in the same boat? I can’t even put a finger on it, it was just away from the norm, somehow.

Even the mad rush to Christmas, that stressful few weeks that makes part of me dread the holidays every year, didn’t go as it usually does. I am one of those annoying people who starts Christmas shopping right after Easter so as to avoid holiday shopping in stores as much as possible. This year, I still had a sizeable list of purchases to make and other errands to run just four days before the big day, which is unheard of for me.

My tree? Even though it’s just a matter of carrying it up the stairs from the basement (I keep it fully set up and decorated year-round – don’t judge me, it’s the greatest idea I’ve ever seen on-line), I didn’t even get that done until the middle of the month, and it was my husband who took the initiative, not me.

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My presents – which are normally inventoried, wrapped, bagged, and hidden by the first of December – were done at the last minute. I didn’t have a single present wrapped until December 20, let alone all of them.

I still managed to get all my baking done, but it was because of help from the other MacDonalds, and it took me right into Christmas Eve. Talk about being behind.

I’m not even sure what to blame it on. I suppose I could chalk it up to a busy schedule made busier by some uncharacteristic socializing. I went to a comedy show with friends, a Christmas banquet in Halifax, a Christmas party, and a dinner, all in the span of three weeks. For someone who hasn’t left the house after dark since the spring except to taxi children to sports, that amount of imbibing took the good right out of me. Seasonal socializing can be draining, especially when you’re not used to it.

I was so looking forward to the week between Christmas and New Year’s. There is nothing quite as relaxing, and boring, and messy, and strangely comforting as the glorious week of limbo connecting the two holidays. Little gets done, and no one seems to care. You’ve eaten too much, perhaps drank a bit too much, definitely slept way too much, and you’re never quite sure which day of the week it is – and it doesn’t even matter. There should really be a special name for that week, like in Norway (they call it “Romjul” – what could we call it? Postmas, maybe?).

What a treat, being able to relax for a few days without a serious thought to what’s ahead. It’s an opportunity to ignore e-mails, shut off alarm clocks, forget calendars, and even avoid social media; to do without the hamster wheel parts of our life and enjoy being at home with the people we love, but without the commitments that usually fill our days and take our attention away from them. It’s like universally-recognized recovery time from a busy year.

After all, as soon as New Year’s Day comes and goes, we’re all forced to reckon with the demands and responsibilities that we ignored during that week, and find a way to move past the indulgences of the previous month. We think about resolutions and willpower, losing weight, hitting the gym, saving money, “new year, new me.” We swear we’re going to start Christmas shopping in January. We’re right back to the frame of mind that necessitated the week of downtime.

And while I did get some pretty solid naps in during Postmas week, there was something… different. Was it the timing of the holidays this year that was out of sorts, maybe? The actual statutory holidays fell on Monday and Tuesday, so the week before was like any other, I worked Monday to Friday and then BAM – Christmas. Although four days off was nice, I was back to work on December 27, so it definitely felt like a long weekend more than a Christmas break.

At any rate, it’s all over for another year. The kids are back to school, the last of the Christmas candy has been purged from the cupboards, and I’m filling out my giant 2018 mom calendar with colour-coordinated entries for hockey practices, meetings, and appointments.

Happy 2018 to one and all!

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Gina MacDonald is a freelance columnist, mother and wife who lives outside Port Hawkesbury.