Is Christmas really over? While vacuuming the blanket of needles under our Douglas fir today, I looked up. Lo and behold, there stood a beautifully adorned tree. After going to great lengths to dig out rarely used, stored ornaments from years gone by and meticulously placing them on the branches, I had failed to appreciate the memories each unique one held.  I’m not sure I really looked at the tree until today!  How did I miss this?



There are three stages of Christmas, other holidays and celebrations. There’s the “getting ready” stage, the “implementation” stage and the “aftermath stage.”



Many people don’t seem to enjoy the getting ready stage. 



No matter how early they start preparing for Christmas, there’s always the last minute rush to respond to Christmas cards, deliver charitable gifts, buy another present or snag forgotten ingredients at the grocery.  You must remember to pick up the ham on Christmas Eve, change sheets on the guest bed, replace the burned out greenery around the front door and the list goes on and on. 



The holiday chores don’t end until company arrives.  Then they begin, again.



One would think the implementation stage would be the favorite stage; however, work continues, especially for the lady of the household. 



She obsesses over every detail from the menu to the table decorations to making sure everyone else has a good time!  There is one possible reprieve during this stage, the Christmas Eve service.  It’s the holy hour, when you can take a deep breath, relax, and remember why we are doing all of this. 



Well, today I realized how important the aftermath stage becomes. 



This third stage is a time to reflect on the memories of the past week, sip hot cocoa while playing carols one last time, look at the new photos you‘ll cherish, reread Christmas cards from dear friends, and admire the tree and decorations before they disappear.



Oh yes, and the aftermath includes leftovers that make for easy, delicious meals and secret midnight snacks. 



It was heartwarming to receive an emailed photo of my friend’s granddaughter baking cookies with Gammie on December 29.  No matter that it was after Santa came. 



During the aftermath, take time to enjoy something you might have missed!  The most wonderful time of the year is about to slip away! 



Deronda Redden is a longtime Destin resident and owner of DestinDirect.com. She is a member of the Destin Area and Walton County chambers, a past president of Republican Women of Okaloosa Federated, and supporter of the Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge and Feline Friends.