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One Down, Two to Go

Are you full? I am. I’m full of turkey and dressing of course, but I’m also full of love, hope, and promise as well. I think it’s safe to say that our family enjoyed our best Thanksgiving ever this past week, and for that, I’m also full of gratitude. All of our children were here, and our granddaughter was here too, enjoying her first Thanksgiving ever.

Carole Townsend

Our friends used to tell us how much fun grandchildren are, but I never really got it until our first arrived this past Spring. She is pure joy.

With Thanksgiving behind us, we look forward to Christmas with excited anticipation. I love Christmas and everything that goes with it, for so many reasons. The older I get, the more I understand that it’s not about the trappings, events and presents; rather, it’s about the people with whom we share all these things.

By the time the Big Three are over (and by Big Three, I am referring to Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve), many of us suffer from a malaise that I call Holiday Hangover. We’ve overdosed on food, family and scrambling, and we’re exhausted, both mentally and physically. Don’t get me wrong; I love being surrounded by all those things, but too much of anything is never good.

I wrote a book a few years back – my first – that details exactly what I’m talking about when I refer to Holiday Hangover. I’m an idealist, and I tend to want to Norman Rockwell-ize the holidays. I try to prepare beautiful meals, bake scrumptious cakes and cookies, find the perfect presents and decorate like the pros do. Needless to say, I am usually gravely disappointed when I compare the reality of my efforts to the fantasy of them.

I remember Christmases when the grand, sparkling tree crashed down on top of our children, guests and dogs (yes, it’s happened more than once). I remember my husband crashing through the vaulted ceiling when he installed his Christmas gift from me one year (I didn’t even know they made wireless surround sound systems). I remember teen drama on Christmas morning, visiting grandparents grating on our nerves, and several kitchen fires. And as I get older, the decorations get simpler. I bake less. I wrap a lot of presents in gift bags rather than wrapping paper. I find myself running out of energy faster than I used to.

By the time New Year’s Eve rolls around, all I want to do it relax and welcome the brand new year at home. These days, it’s usually just my husband and me and truth be known, I love that. I’ve never been much of a partier, and I don’t want to be out on the roads when other amateurs are trying their hands at it. And who better with whom to ring in the New Year?

I’ve maintained for years that the Big Three are crammed into the calendar so close together for a reason. Their proximity gives us eleven months to recuperate from Holiday Hangover and forget how stressful we sometimes make them. We forget the smoky kitchen fires, downed trees and mall parking lots; eleven months later, all we remember are the good things about family gatherings: the fun, the laughter, the fabulous foods and the magical lights. We remember the surprise of a great gift and not the shopping crowds we endured to get it.

I have to pat myself on the back this year. The Thanksgiving meal was wonderful, and there was only one, very small, kitchen fire. It could have happened to anyone. I think Mr. Rockwell would be proud.

Carole Townsend is a Gwinnett author and freelance writer. She writes about family, from both a humorous and poignant perspective. Her newest book, MAGNOLIAS, SWEET TEA AND EXHAUST (July 2014, Skyhorse Publishing) takes a look at NASCAR from a Southern suburban mom’s perspective. She is currently writing her fourth book. Carole has appeared on local and national news and talk shows, including CNN, ABC, CBS and NBC affiliates. When not writing, she travels throughout the region, speaking to various civic and literary groups, and advocating for the health and well-being of the family, particularly women and children. For more information, visit