And after the festive fury of the season there is this: an enveloping calm as the dust settles back on to a life less ordinary and those of us charged with creating Christmas can breathe again safe in the knowledge that it was as lovely as it could be in our own circumstances…
Here Winter is pretending she is Spring and the sun is cracking the frosty flags. For a moment I debate hanging out a row of wet towels before reminding myself that crunch towels are never cozy. Though I want to throw every window open, the temperature is below freezing and there are goose-pimples on my bare arms. She is fooling me good and proper, this deceptive Winter of ours. Having me longing for the optimism of Spring and believing that not all days have the fuddly lethargy of those that have followed Christmas here.
Today the house is finally my own again. Like a woman waiting for her husband to leave so she can welcome in her lover, I fuss and sigh until the family heads out of the door and then I go into something of a frenzy reclaiming my space, banishing the remnants of the season and wafting a feather duster at all that is standing still. Failing to hear the phone as I do the homemade shake and vac with Hetty the Hoover, basking in rooms liberated from the constant whir of one games console or another, chucking out the last of sweets lingering in crystal bowls and trying my best to resist chucking out everything else we own with them for if January means anything at all to me, she means a slate as clean as I am capable of making it. No stone un-turned. No surface immune from my efforts as a kind of berserk fever gets hold of me and has me sprinkling feminine energy over rooms still recovering from the frivolity of fairy lights and glitter.
I am domestic madness personified. Spinning around these laminate floors like Julie Andrews in the Sound of Music. Bashing cushions into submission as if my life depended on it. Crossing those frosty flags with bare feet to the recycling bins over and over again and searching for signs of life in the borders of the lawn. Back inside I strip beds and re-arrange the linen cupboard, smile a promise at the basket of gifts I received for Christmas and have not yet found time to enjoy, pour kettles full of boiling water down the drains and run a little wild with the Zoflora. Back in my element and sorry to have drifted so very far from my most authentic self, though December of course demands the same of all of us.
Now there is peppermint tea and slices of fresh pineapple on a white tray. My favorite amber candles burning on the coffee table. Home made treacly onion soup defrosting and a fresh loaf of soda bread still warm and beckoning to me from the kitchen (though it must be resisted if there is to be any for tea). For the next few days as I detox both my home and my soul, I will bask in this domestic bliss. Polishing this and cleaning that. Whiling away evenings with my gorgeous new journal on my knee and seeking the cosy comfort of my bed as early as is decent.
Sometimes the world is too much with me and the ache for quiet solitude and calm space becomes not a choice but a necessity if I am to feel whole again. For what does Christmas do if not shatter our spirit into glistening strands of the kind of abundance we so very much need time to recover from? Though it doesn’t do to wish it away, the sense of relief when the very last bauble is tucked once again in to the loft, is palpable.
January then is our reward for the kind of Christmas’s we sell our souls to fashion. A quiet blessing that says, stop now. Its time to breathe again.
Happy New Year Housekeepers.