When the holiday is over, the opened presents have been stashed and the leftover ham has been made into bean soup, there’s a part of me that just wants to savor it all. To snuggle up on the couch with the family in my new pajamas, nibbling from the tin of stale Christmas cookies, basking in the glow of the dying Christmas tree, watching movie marathons until my eyeballs bleed.

These days, there’s so much hustle and bustle associated with the holidays, it’s nice to linger a while. Let it all sink in. Take a moment to stop and appreciate the richness of life, our families and our traditions before another hectic year is in full swing.

However, there’s another part of me that gets antsy. Like the plaque accumulating in my arteries from too much cheese dip, or the needles piling up under the tree, or the mounting credit card bills -- the holiday builds. Something takes over in me, and after weeks of excess and sloth, I’m hell bent on eating enough fiber, taking 10,000 steps a day, keeping accurate financial records, compulsively vacuuming and fundamentally changing my entire personality.

By New Year’s Eve, I’m feeling the urge to purge.

“Is it time?” I think to myself as I sip my coffee and stare at our lifeless Christmas tree. I could flip the switch to electrify the tiny lights, top off the stagnant water and blur my eyes to the curling branches for one more week.

Or, I could take the whole dang thing down.

Positioning myself closer to the tree, I consider my options. I cock my head sideways and sigh, remembering her lovely pine smell on that first night. This tree had been with us for month of celebrating, shopping, eating, baking and gift giving. Shouldn’t we keep her for one more week?

In my sentimental haze, I reach out to touch a lovely blown glass ornament, and as my hand brushes against the branch, I set off an avalanche of dead pine needles.

“That’s it,” I think. “She’s gotta go.”

One by one, I remove our tree decorations, packing them away in the basement. Using a turkey baster, I suck the scummy water out of the tree stand and detach the naked tree, lugging her dead carcass across our living room, out the front door and across the porch, finally heaving her into the gutter in front of our mailbox.

Fueled by a colossal sense of relief, I march back into the house, going room by room to purge all evidence of Christmas. I shake candy wrappers out of the stockings, pack away the Nativity, derail the train, bubble-wrap my ceramic Christmas trees, store the Santa mugs and silence the jingle bells.

I fill garbage bags with dying poinsettias, stale cookies, burnt candles, wrinkled wrapping paper, used doilies, broken candy canes, half a cheese ball, a whole fruitcake, a carton of eggnog and a stripped turkey carcass.

Invigorated, I storm out onto the porch and unwind the garland from the railings, tug until the twinkle lights give way from the gutter and tear the wreath from the door, hurling it like a flying disc onto the curb with our discarded tree.

I exhaust the remainder of my cathartic frenzy by firing up my vacuum cleaner. With crazed eyes, I suck up thousands of pine needles, glitter, crumbs, cookie sprinkles, red and green M&Ms, snips of ribbon, scraps of tissue paper and a few gumdrops fringed with dog hair.

I dump the canister’s contents in the trash along with several boxes and bags, and wheel the whole shebang out to the curb next to the tree cadaver. Grabbing the mail from the mailbox, I head back inside. I sit at the kitchen table in my freshly expunged house, pleased to have wiped my slate clean and ready for a fresh start to the New Year.

But then, I open the credit card bill and leaf through a month of reckless spending memorialized on paper. And inevitably, I glance down and notice my protruding stomach.

That’s the moment I realize, the real battle to purge myself of the excesses of the holiday has only just begun.

Read more at and in Lisa’s book, “The Meat and Potatoes of Life: My True Lit Com.” Email:

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now