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The cookies are baked and nearly gone.

The gifts purchased, wrapped and then unwrapped.

The decorations are in place, twinkling and shining their little hearts out.

The cards are mailed.

The carols sung.

The feast prepared and eaten.

And from homes all around the country, you hear one huge collective sigh.

Another Christmas under our belts.

In many ways, my favorite days of Christmas are the two or three immediately following the BIG DAY.

Kids play with their new toys.

Adults nap, read, watch movies, and pull out the board games.

It’s a swath of uninterrupted time with family, which in this day and age has sadly become quite rare.

We don’t have to worry about meals, because there are usually a ton of leftovers.

We nibble on fudge and Chex mix and turkey sandwiches and not even feel one bit guilty. We drink eggnog and hot buttered rum without so much as a thought about calories. It’s nice, really.

A couple of days of well-earned relaxation, when life slows down and gives you permission to do the same. It’s a time out, a stop action, a hold.

Many businesses close for those few days, so honestly,  you can’t do much work.

Take advantage of it.

We aren’t given many of these free passes.

Breathe, relax and enjoy this little respite from the day-to-day hustle and bustle.

Because, all too soon, it will be knocking at your door.

And those naps and nibbles of fudge will be nothing more than distant memories.