After Halloween rolls like a bulldozer through your crunchy-leaved fall, knocking over pumpkin-flavored lattes and drunk girls in tutus, the world wakes up with a renewed energy, a childlike life force that inspires us to click the "Forgot Password" link on Pinterest, and to ask for the cookie cutters that we lent to a friend 11 months ago. The holiday season is a jolly whirlwind of sprinkles and Amazon Prime shipments that, if you're (allegedly) a grownup, can sometimes feel less sentimental than it did when we were kids. So, once the tree is in the dumpster and champagne glasses clinked, there are seven stages of realizing you've survived another holiday season that range from retroactive FOMO to absolute relief.
On Christmas day, I overheard the traditional holiday chatter while celebrating with my family — relatives catching up with loved ones that live far away, sisters discussing game plans for the competitive art of gift wrapping, and whispers of whose casserole was, indeed, the most delicious. Between stealthy shopping, strategic shipping, and not knowing what skin products to bring to the other side of the country during holiday travels, this time of year can leave us feeling, as we say in the country, like we've been rode hard and put away wet. (Similes make us Southern people as happy as a dead pig in the sunshine... or something.)
Here are the seven stages of realizing you've survived yet another holiday season.
1. Retroactive FOMO
You feel sorta like Faith Hill singing "Where Are You, Christmas?" but without the last part of the song... and it's January, so it's a little late. Did you screw it up? How come you didn't catch any of the magic? Maybe you're turning into a Scrooge. You used to really love Christmas decorations, but now you'd rather not make a mess of your apartment. Other people still seem to get really into it as adults, but you feel guilty over your feelings of relief that you can go back to your normal life without worrying that your Instagrams aren't festive enough.
2. Wondering What All The Fuss Was About
You put a ton of effort into those gifts that you got for people, I know. You obsessed over two items that were effectively identical for a week. You learned about an entirely new kind of technology just to become the perfect expert to gift one to somebody, and now you've got the emotional hangover of a person who probably won't get to see your gift in action even if the recipient is going to use it every day. Maybe next year you'll just make cookies for everybody and call it a day.
3. Dreaming About All The Junk Food You Just Ate
A million Christmas cookies, three chocolate truffles, two apple pies, and basically an entire roast beef — and that was just on Christmas day.
4. The Super Productive Resolutiony Phase
You're sticking to your promise to wash all the dishes after dinner, eating vegetables, and your apartment is immaculate. It's amazing how productive you can be on two Red Bulls and a protein bar. Keep this up, and you'll be on the Forbes 30 under 30 list by 2017. The world is your oyster, and you're conquering it one day at a time.
5. Noticing The Valentine's Day Displays At The Store
Wait? Guys. I can still see the guy wheeling away the discounted Christmas ornaments to the stock room. Are you sure you want to go all hearts-and-roses on people this early? It's too soon. And what are these graphic t-shirts instructing strangers to Be Mine? You don't know if they've even washed their hands today. I've been in a relationship for like... forever, and I can't with this premature mess.
6. Noticing How Long A Five-Day Work Week Really Is
When is the next vacation? Spring break, anyone? We don't get those after college? Who signed me up for adulthood?
7. Falling Back Into Your Normal Routine
You work, you happy hour, you work some more, you walk your dogs. Sometimes you try out a new dinner recipe and feel really great if your special someone really likes it. You've got a little bit of time on your hands, and sometimes you use it for things like exercise. Sometimes not, and that's totally chill. You've only got 10 more months before this whole thing starts all over again.
Images: New Line Cinema; Giphy (7)