By Joe Rector

The Christmas trees have been taken down; ornaments and other decorations are once again safe in boxes and bins. Supplies of fireworks are expended, and the remnants of them have been removed from yards and streets. The holiday season is finished, and for many folks, that end couldn’t have come soon enough.

Parents love their children, but they can take them only so long before the fuses of tempers shorten and explosions occur in households. It’s not that adults or children don’t love each other; it’s just that they are stuck in the same cramped spaces. Teens miss their friends at school and would much rather spend free time with them. To be honest, parents have that same wish. We all know how tough the teen years are and how much people of that age are irked by the “simple stupidity of parents.” Adults, on the other hand, are weary of dealing with confrontational youngsters who draw from moms’ and dads’ limited energy pools.

Men and women suffer exhaustion from different things. Dads are in charge of playing “Chevy Chase” as they hang lights on the house, and they pray that the job is completed without suffering serious physical injuries from falls. Males also lose plenty of sleep the night before Christmas as they wrestle assembling using directions written in Chinese or French. At the end of the season, all of those decorations must be taken down and stored until next year.

Moms lose their energy through many ways. They are the ones who are in charge of buying presents for every person on the list. They are the ones who make multiple trips to the store for menu items, and they know that someone will point out the item they forgot to get. The women of the family spend hours wrapping presents. They cook up a feast for bunches of family members who come on Christmas Day; additionally, they work to keep a lid on the small skirmishes that break out between children and in-laws.

Many individuals, adults and teens, arise the day after Christmas and travel the roads back to jobs. It’s a shock to the system to so quickly return to the grind. Parents need to go back to work to pay off the debts they’ve incurred from overly indulgent Christmas spending. Young workers go back to jobs where they work with the public. They won’t be there long before the frustration and exhaustion of the season are expressed through angry words and overbearing demands.

Parents are excited for the school doors to open once again so that they can turn over their testy, moody children to teachers. Few ever acknowledge that those who work in classrooms are feeling the same way. In addition, teachers must turn young minds back to subject matter that is of little interest to them. The dark, cold, bleak days of winter make the task even more difficult, and students and teachers alike hope that at least of couple of snow days are around the corner.

The season of hope and light and expectation somehow is obscured by all the other events and chores that folks pile upon themselves. In the end, they are exhausted; their thoughts drift to warm weather and vacations to beaches or other destinations. We all know how easy it is to relax during vacation time and how refreshed we feel upon our return.

It seems that this whole loss of energy and the impending dread of the Christmas seasons might be mitigated if we worried less about presents and food and decorations and focused more upon the spirit of the season and the gift of time we have to spend with the ones we love. Yes, that sounds so easy, but somehow, we probably will continue to wear ourselves out and struggle through the holiday.

Let’s hope the coming year is one where we worry less about what awaits us in life. Perhaps our best choice is to live in the moment and enjoy it.