In the aftermath of Christmas, our cupboard is cluttered with goodies. A plate of monster cookies and a quarter of a bucket of raisin-filled cookies, candy canes, the remnants of a cheese ball, an assortment of candied peanuts, a bowl of popcorn spices, two giant Reese cups with a mini pie-shaped slice cut from one of them, whipped honey and honey comb and honey sticks, a small basket of assorted teas, a single piece of angel food cake on a large white plate.
Every item has some person, some memory associated with it, so looking at the cupboard is like looking at a giant scrapbook of Christmas past. The monster cookies are my favorite. I came home one day to find Dad elbow deep in a five-gallon bucket, mixing the dough for them, grumpy because he hadn’t known how big the batch was nor how long they would take to make.
In the aftermath of Christmas, a puzzle board on a fold-out table in the living room displays two completed puzzles. We always do a puzzle around Christmas time; it’s our tradition. This year, they were easy, five-hundred piece only and one of them already half completed when we took it out of the box. I started to break the pieces apart, but “It’s such a shame to break it up,” said my sister Jennie. So we left it. Elizabeth snapped in the last piece of that puzzle the next morning, exclaimed over the lion with his piercing puzzle eyes and a lamb nestled between his paws.
In the aftermath of Christmas, my dad turned sixty. His birthday comes on December 26. He says as a little boy he used to hate that his birthday came so soon after a holiday. People would hand him one gift and say, “Here’s your Christmas and birthday present.” And what fun was that, when other children got two?
Birthdays are less fun in general when one is sixty instead of six. I think my dad was a little sad to have stepped past the fifty mark. But we plan to celebrate his birthday tonight—eat birthday cake and smoothies and give him sixty brown-paper wrapped gifts. I hope that he will have fun and feel valued.
In the aftermath of Christmas, there are decisions to make, plans for the coming year. Which weekend would work for a bacho-family outing? Just the seven of us, before my brother Benny gets married in the spring. Who makes the phone calls and finds the information Chad and I need to get our visas before our trip to China in April? Can I spare a January weekend to visit a friend in Arizona, and which airline will give me a good deal on tickets? And all importantly, now that the year is almost past and my patience is nearing its end, what computer should replace my crippled old one—a Windows or a Mac?
In the aftermath of Christmas, my phone claims it is twenty-two degrees below zero outside. And that is just too cold. Global warming has forgotten Wisconsin, one of the few states that would appreciate it.
In the aftermath of Christmas, I realize again how sated I am. All these good things I and my family have in abundance. More food than we know what to do with. So many things they come pouring from closets because we don’t have enough space to keep them. A big, warm house on cold winter days. Money enough to travel, to buy things, to easily claim convenience and pleasure. Each other. Together. Love.
In the aftermath of Christmas, I feel guilty at my own satiety. But of course guilt doesn’t help those who are cold or hungry or sick or alone.
In the aftermath of Christmas, as I make plans for the coming year, I remember also the least of these. What can I do in 2018 to help?