For those of us who love Christmastime and all the glitz, love, hope and manger babies that come along with it, there is a process we must undergo every year when this, our most favorite of holidays, comes to a squealing, grinding halt at the edge of a cliff and dangles us off in a moment of nail-biting suspense before callously dumping us in the Christmasless chasm below, wherein exists not a single strand of tinsel, garland or multi-colored outdoor lights, nor the faintest echo of Mariah Carey belting out “All I Want for Christmas is You” in such jolly fashion that you can almost remember a time when the sound of your husband’s open-mouthed chewing didn’t make you want to claw your ears off.

In response to this unceremonious cessation of all things Christmassy, Christmas-lovers truly suffer. We grieve the loss of our beloved holiday. Even I, with this year’s admittedly reluctant embrace of the festivities, still find myself lumbering through sweaty Christmas withdrawals in a state of twitchy, gape-mouthed catatonia. Perhaps you understand what I’m talking about. Perhaps you’ll recognize yourself in these Seven Stages of Post-Christmas Grief:

1. Shock or disbelief: “Wait. That’s it??? I’ve been planning Christmas for two frickin’ months and all it took was one day for my family to make my house to look like a poorly-managed soup kitchen that Santa’s workshop threw up in? Is this real life???

You might find yourself standing at the threshold of your living room staring glassy-eyed into a mountain of partially unboxed toys and crumpled-up wrapping paper, looking at the mess but not really seeing it. You might turn around and shuffle to the kitchen to pour yourself the last of the eggnog (extra heavy on the rum), but you won’t really taste it as it goes down.

2. Denial: “I’m fine. I’m happy I don’t have to move that f*cking elf anymore.”

You might suddenly find yourself in the Christmas décor isle at Target (“How did I get here?”), picking up some new outdoor lights (“OMG icicles!!! 75% off!!!!!”) and sparkly wrapping paper (“This can be next year’s Santa paper!”), coming home to your husband and holding up nine bags of clearance Christmas decorations while screaming shrilly into his face, “LOOK HOW MUCH MONEY I SAVED!”

3. Anger: “No one even noticed how much effort I put into making Christmas perfect! INSUFFERABLE BUNCH OF INGRATES.”

You might find yourself dumping perfectly edible leftover green bean casserole down the garbage disposal just to spite your napping husband, or kicking new toys into a pile in the corner because how many times do you have to ask your spoiled children to put away their crap? Everyone on Earth is basically an asshole.

4. Bargaining: “Next year I’ll wait until after Thanksgiving to put up the tree, I promise. Please, just give me one more day.

Except you know damn well you’ll put up your tree before Thanksgiving next year, just like you do every year, and you’ll post pictures of it on Facebook too, with some overly-enthusiastic caption like “I know it’s early but I just can’t help myself. SQUEEE!!!!” and just as they did this year, your friends will roll their eyes at you but you won’t care because you’re secretly smugger than a vulture at an elephant carcass that you have your shit together enough to erect a tree before anyone else you know.

5. Guilt: “The Christmas tree is just lying out there on the curb, dried-up, naked, limp and alone …”

You’ll never forgive yourself for not smashing your face into its succulent, piney branches enough times, deep-inhaling like a pothead at a Grateful Dead concert. You didn’t appreciate the twinkle of the lights enough. You forgot to move the elf three times. That one time you listened to top 20 in the car instead of Christmas Carols. And several times you forgot to switch on the outdoor light display. You could have done better. You could have done more. And now … it’s all over. It’s too late.

6. Depression: “I’ll never get this string of lights back in the box the way they were when I first bought them. I can’t remember what happiness feel like…

At this point, there is really nothing anyone can say to lift your spirits. It is also extremely unhelpful that right around this time, you’ll get your credit card statement in the mail. Just know that there are brighter days ahead, my friend. Keep muddling through.

7. Acceptance and hope: “These new storage bins are pretty practical, really. Look how neatly my wrapping supplies fit under the bed! And I suppose it’s nice that we can finally put the easy chair back in its regular spot.”

You’ll vacuum those last pine needles out of the crack between the carpet and the baseboards and you’ll finally find a place for those awkwardly-shaped toys that your kids begged you for and now totally ignore. You’ll stop humming “Jingle Bells” and start thinking of all the cool things you can do to celebrate the other (lesser, inferior) holidays yet to come in the new year, all of them—let’s face it—a mere countdown to next Christmas.

So … are you experiencing Post-Holiday Grief? What stage are you in?

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  1. Still at 6. Have to get the tree down. It’s spilling needles all over my floor.

  2. Complete opposite here – sooo glad it’s over! No tree sniffing or box hugging, just wham/bam/to the attic, g’bye!

  3. Oh, my gosh – so funny. If I didn’t know better I’d swear you’d been following me around. (A confession: my default state this time of year is “anger”.)

      • Girl, get some help then. There’s no shame in it. I’ve been there!
        Hugs (freezing cold, below zero hugs) from Wisconsin.

  4. I absolutely LOVED this and snorted out loud. Love your style and also wish I had sniffed the tree just one more time.

  5. Loved it Kris. Made me laugh. True though, very true.