The Christmas Receipt Basket overfloweth

The first week of January may very well be my least favorite week of the year. To borrow an accounting term, I’m operating in the red in every department.

For starters, I’m fresh out of calories. We kick off the Seasonal Eating Marathon at Thanksgiving and don’t come up for air  until the very last New Year’s black eyed pea is sopped up by the last chunk of cornbread. I refer to this dietary style as, “food layering.” I layer my next meal or snack right on top of the preceding one with no break in between.

Food wasn’t the only over-indulgence, as evidenced by the bills that are rolling in.  I admit, like most people, I get caught up in the frenzy of creating the “Perfect Christmas” and that costs a bundle. I spent way too much money at Trader Joe’s and Anthropologie, which naturally guilted me into buying gifts for people other than myself.  It certainly added up.

But what I’m really looking to shed this week is people. I’m sick of everyone. On January 1, when I started my epic diet and budget, I knew it was time to thin the herd, so to speak.

I’m ready to be alone.  I want everyone to go back to wherever it is they came from so I can suffer and sacrifice in solitude.

Pondering my annual Holiday Hangover prompted me to examine creative strategies I could employ to shed those superfluous family members:

I started by showing my husband the dreaded Receipt Basket. This is a tiny Christmas-themed basket I keep in my closet that contains all the receipts we’ve incurred since December 1st. It represents every last quart of eggnog, gift card and snuggly-wuggly pullover I purchased for our enormous family.

That did it for Jimmy. It was almost too easy.  He took one look at that bushel of receipts and I saw tail lights as he headed back to work.

One down, three to go…

I recently discovered (a little late in the game) that most universities offer something called “Intercession.” This is an adorable little miniature semester compressed in between the two main semesters that we all know about.  It’s like “Yuletide Summer School!” For approximately $1000 your local university will take your college student off your hands from January 3rd until right before the Spring semester starts.

On the one hand, I hadn’t really budgeted for a sandwich semester, but on the other hand, I reasoned, it’s probably less than I would spend entertaining my daughter for the next two weeks. Plus, she’ll get another credit under her belt. I might actually be saving money.

So, Gracie packed up and left yesterday. I was looking forward to her helping me take down the Christmas tree, but we’ll both be glad she took Intercession the next time we sit down and map out that rocky path to Graduation.

I immediately felt thinner and richer when she pulled out of the driveway.


Getting rid of the boys is proving a little trickier. They really don’t have anywhere else to go. The dormitories and high schools are locked up tighter than the Little Drummer Boy’s drum.

We encouraged James to pick up some shifts at the restaurant where he worked last summer. He complied. He informed us this morning that he was able to secure a single lunch shift one week from tomorrow!   That should kill about 3 or 4 hours until they let them back on campus mid-January.  As an added bonus, I think they’ll feed him for free after that shift.

With James so gainfully employed, that just leaves Tommy.  I’m not worried about him though. He’s your typical teenager. All I have to do is start pulling boxes out of the attic and taking down decorations and he’ll make himself plenty scarce.

I don’t know which is worse – that I’ve lost that loving feeling or that I’m so shamelessly candid about it.

The truth is – I can’t miss them ’til they’re gone…