Now that we’ve emerged from our turkey Tryptophan trance, it’s time for:  

Uncle Billy to lose the $8,000; emergency shopping for nutmeg and batteries; overtired toddlers being carted to the next party; posing in snowflake sweaters; Jesus, Joseph and Mary sharing the front lawn with Frosty and Rudolph; losing your spot on the sofa to the kid home from college; cookies – so many cookies; “Five golden rings!”; spooning sugar into the tree stand; skating on the volleyball court at the Park; watching the CTA holiday train spark past; gift receipts; late night toy assembly; bleary-eyed present opening; hot chocolate by candlelight; tiny costumed people performing Christmas songs with all the motions; passing around the phone to see who wants to talk to Aunt Betty next; Salting the stairs and hoping Grandma’ will grab the handrail; “All is calm, all is bright” but only in church; Watching the shop windows come alive on Madison during the Holiday Walk; kids crying on Santa’s lap; plugging in a string of lights to see if it works; “We’re all out but I can call one of our other stores;” handing out loaves of bread at the food pantry; hosting students so far from home; awkward chit-chat at the office party; layering the lasagna; binging on the TV series you were hoping to get; holding off on clearing the plates to keep from killing the conversation; listening to how Aunt Mary’s oven caught fire that one Christmas – again;  acting out “Titanic” in four seconds; teachers taking home their trove of scented candles and Starbucks coupons on the last school day; three-year-olds waking up at 2 a.m. in mid-December to ask if it’s Christmas; protests about crèches and Menorahs in public places; piling coats on the bed; adding a little Kahlua to the coffee; last-minute shopping trip for the wife who claimed she didn’t want anything for Christmas; being surprised by carolers; tackling the dishes after midnight; hosting because you love leftovers; presenting the chew toy to the most grateful member of the family; skimming four-page Christmas letters; changing the radio station at the first strains of “Grandma’ Got Run Over By A Reindeer;” living on Gingerbread Men; gold coins clinking in Salvation Army kettles; leaving your car on the street without fear of an overnight ticket; using your back porch as a walk-in refrigerator; slicing the flank steak; humidifying your house with a fresh-smelling pine tree; candy – too much candy; dusting off the Christmas CD’s; constructing the Christmas village to the crooning of Bing Crosby and surf carols of Los Straightjackets; reading aloud “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” until someone makes you stop; becoming allergic to saccharine TV commercials and holiday specials; hanging the handmade ornaments you’ve cherished since the day your kids brought them home from school; looking forward to Clarence getting his wings.  

John Rice is a columnist/private detective, who has seen his business and family thrive in Forest Park. He thoroughly enjoys life in the village and still gets a thrill smelling Red Hots, watching softball and strolling through cemeteries.

John Rice is a columnist/novelist who has seen his family thrive in Forest Park. He has published two books set in the village: The Ghost of Cleopatra and The Doll with the Sad Face.

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