I made it to December 26th before I furiously crammed every Christmas decoration back in its box. I didn’t pay attention to organization – 2023 me will figure it out and question why 2022 me did this to us. I did a broad sweep in the kitchen, ridding myself of any leftover cookies, cake, dip, chips and scraps of leftover meat. All tamales were relocated to the freezer. In Patagonia, tamales are currency and will come in handy down the road. I balled up lights, stuffed stockings into bags and piled the trash sky high in the alley. Christmas is officially over at the Farley house, and I must say, good riddance. 

There were a few wins and a few bright spots this holiday season. Zach bought me some hand weights and some gym clothes that actually fit. Usually, he buys clothes like the Grinch: three sizes too small. Win. I got a Dolly Parton chip and dip platter, and my grandma only insulted me once at Christmas dinner. Given the current ratio of hugs to insults, this is a huge win. 

And at last, the bright spot. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, Zach and I took my nephews to the mall. We parked far away and dodged cars in the parking lot only to walk into the stupidest place on earth. 

It seems everyone was there. Grabbing the boys by the hands, we made our way to the long line at Santa’s workshop. We stood on the other side of the rope taking in the scene. My older nephew immediately lost his mind and started diving under ropes and crawling on the floor to get closer to Santa, while my younger nephew began a progressive downward spiral towards a nervous breakdown. 

After we got a hold on the situation and assured my younger nephew that we would not go any further, we stood hand in hand and watched the unfolding scene. We observed as moms and dads with tiny kids waited in line dressed in their finest matching outfits, fussing with hair, and using their spit to clean faces. They all (including the moms) had that same look of anxiety on their faces.

For some reason this amused Zach and me. We continued to watch, and much to our delight, the elves called upon a new family to take the march towards Santa Claus. We watched as each child was taken from their hairbrush wielding mother and placed into the arms of that Santa stranger. One by one, as they were placed on Santa’s lap they began that very animated silent cry that then became a wail. The elves did their part by squeaking toys and using their best “don’t cry” voices, but the crying turned to terror and for some awful reason Zach and I laughed.

I got ahold of myself, but by this point Zach was already gone. I focused on the scene in front of us and noticed that everyone involved was not nearly as amused as we were, and I gave Zach a deep elbow to the side. 

It took two more elbows for him to stop and we got away before an angry mob was assembled. I do have to acknowledge the mall Santa for never breaking character during this event. He had three screaming kids on his lap and he never so much as blinked an eye. Extra points for the real beard. I convinced my older nephew that we’d see Santa again and we made our way to the food court where pizza was enjoyed by all. 

I guess in some way Christmas brings out the anxiety in us all. For kids it’s, “Will it ever come?” and for us adults it’s “Will it ever stop?”

Until next Christmas, my friends. Happy New Year, and thanks for reading.