Catholics get the dregs of commercial Christmas--and that's awesome

Christmas morning! Bright, glorious, and deeply happy. Sean and Joe tiptoed out at 11:30pm to head to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, but even with that, everyone slept well. Our once-yearly allotment of bacon for breakfast was met, and after all that we headed to Mass as a family.

But the next day, the day after Christmas? Just as wonderful. Truth:

Yeeeeeeee-ahhhh. I love Christmas break. I wake up on December 26 with a happy twitch in my fingers, which are ready to snap up bargains and swipe my debit card at all the big box stores, which are groaning under the weight of all the clearance Christmas merchandise they've got to get rid of. Sean can usually take a week off work for Christmas, and so once my clearance Christmas shopping itch has been scratched, we dive into a 12-day spree of FUN STUFF which more often than not is free or dirt cheap.

Unlike the vast wasteland of summertime with its frequently empty days, whiny or bored kids and no end in sight, Christmas break to me feels like one of those Advent calendars that opens up a new door every day in December with a TREAT. But those calendars kind of get it wrong, you know? Advent is the little lent, the preparation time, the fast before the feast. And then Christmas comes, and BAM! Catholics Gone Liturgically Wild.

Catholics have scraggly, Charlie Brown-esque Christmas trees, with bare patches and half-dead limbs. Why? They go buy them on Gaudete Sunday, or on the 23rd, or even on Christmas Eve, and all the great trees are gone, and the ones left are marked down 50%. AND THAT'S OK! Do you know what you do with a Christmas tree? YOU COVER IT IN PRETTY STUFF.

Catholics have great Christmas decorations. Why? We scoop up everything on SUPER clearance on the 26th when stores are practically giving it away. At 50, 60, heck, 90% off, you can get all the garland, twinkle lights, candles, shatterproof ornaments (obviously) and gift wrap your little liturgical heart desires--and spend about $3.26 for all of it.

Catholics can skip the lines at all those fun Christmas-light shows and neighborhood light attractions. Why? We go on the 26th, which is usually the last night those things run--and barely anyone else in the world still cares to go see them at that point.

Catholics have the best New Year's Eve, New Year's and Epiphany parties. Why? IT'S STILL CHRISTMAS, BABY! We've been saving our eggnog, our champagne and our shrimp cocktails for these moments. We know between Christmas and Twelfth Night, you've got more solemnities than you can shake a candy cane at. Live it up.

The last two scrawny crabs in the seafood department, plus steamed artichokes and GF noodles with mizithra: All just vehicles for melted butter, all in honor of the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God.

Our Epiphany included King Cake cupcakes. Why? Because gold and purple and green sprinkles were about $0.30 each in the clearance section of Walmart.

This is all to say, of course, that my big kids are now back in school, and we took the tree down yesterday (a fire hazard, truly) and packed the stockings away, and now it's just me and the littles at home. My Nativity sets are still up and will be for another week or so. I love seeing the Christmas season come and cover the house and our hearts with the glorias and hosannas announcing the arrival of the Baby King to the world. We're still listening to Christmas music in the afternoons, and Baby Steve still belts out Joy to the World to announce to me he's woken up from his nap.

My Christmas Decorations Closet of Bargains is mostly closed up for the year, but you can bet that if I can still find some strands of twinkle lights marked down to $0.80 at the grocery store, I'm snapping those puppies up.