Have a merry Christmas, fueled by sleep deprivation and sugar cookies

All the presents have been opened; wrapping paper is strewn all over the house. The dog is wearing a large shiny bow, courtesy of the kids; while the cat has one end of a piece of curling ribbon hanging out of her mouth and the other end hanging out her … elsewhere.

The joyful voices of happy children emanate from the next room. They're arguing over whose turn it is to play the new video game or hollering, "Quit it! Give me back my new (fill in the blank) or I'm gonna tell!"

Good times.

Or perhaps they're taking turns (a civility you instilled in them from an early age) hiding in an empty cardboard box while their sibling sits on top and refuses to let him/her out until they beg for mercy. Holiday memories in the making.

Then there's the attempted present-swap: "I'll give you this Cabbage Patch doll for your battery-operated GI Joe four-wheel-drive Land Rover." "NO! Leave me alone! I don't want your stupid old doll!" The next thing you hear is the sound of a "toy" vehicle with a 7-year-old behind the wheel crashing through the wall and into the kitchen.

Weren't you going to renovate anyway? Don't worry; someday you'll look back on this and laugh.

At least you know the new (fill in name of luxury vehicle) you bought for your spouse was much appreciated, because you haven't seen him/her for more than an hour — not since he/she said, "I just want to go outside and sit in it for a minute."

Now the mayhem coming from the other room is reaching decibel levels on a par with a jumbo jet revving its engines … inside a hangar. Your kids' seemingly limitless store of energy is because of a balanced breakfast consisting of a nutritious bowl of cold cereal with bananas, orange juice and 147 Christmas cookies.

Speaking of Christmas cookies, Santa didn't eat his last night. He was too busy assembling a Barbie Beverly Hills Mansion Playhouse and ending up with three leftover parts. He finally finished, threw away the extra parts, realized they probably went to the GI Joe Land Rover, and crawled into bed exactly 10 minutes before what seemed like an entire battalion of Marines landed and began jumping on the bed.

"Is it time? Can we open our presents now? Can we? Pleeeeeze?" That was at 5:22 a.m.

Fueled by candy canes they'd hidden under their pillows the night before, the kids raced into the living room ahead of you, pushing and shoving to be first under the tree and tumbling headlong into the pile of gifts. Some of which were fragile.

Oh, well. "Merry Christmas," you mumbled, tying your robe. "Is there coffee?"

Just think: Your spouse will return soon and you can test drive the new car … breathe in that new car smell … hear nothing but soft rock on the high-end sound system.

Now the kids are crying because the miniature-car raceway set is broken. (A two-hour life-span is programmed into the product; it's the law.) You hear a thump against the wall. "I hate this stupid doll! I hate it I hate it I hate it!"

You'll feel better when you get your turn to test drive the — oh, you didn't give your spouse a new luxury car for Christmas? And they didn't give you one? Odd. The TV commercials, which never lie, clearly show people giving each other cars for Christmas.

Well, then I guess all I can say is: Merry Christmas Aftermath.

And of course, have a happy New Year!

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