As I crawled into bed last night, I thought to myself that it must have been at least a week or two since I’d been there. Nope, I’d only spent one night away. But the night of a feast always feels like it’s own day, especially if you nap beforehand (which I did NOT do this year – I was not willing to risk losing the will to live right before a cozy night in church).

Saturday was divided into distinct eras. If I knew the order of things like Mesozoic and Paleolithic, I would name my eras in a fancy scientific way, but no. There was, let’s call it, the Prehistoric Era, which involved a last minute stop at my sister’s neighborhood coffee shop to keep her supplied in iced white chocolate mochas (year round) (although she did mention that she’s switched to hazelnut lately, a move of which I approve), a lovely 2 egg breakfast at Zell’s with Bee, a search for an ornament for my mother (who insists that her tree will be barren when we take all our ornaments with us, something that is unlikely to happen in the next decade considering she won’t let them leave her house) culminating in the discovery of a cunning alligator carrying a gift in his mouth. Nothing says Noel like an alligator.

Then there was the era of Ancient Civilizations, in which I worked. And during which everything went shockingly smoothly and I spread Christmas cheer liberally.

That was followed by the Medieval Period, during which I despaired of ever being inspired enough to create a potluck dish out of the scanty contents of our fridge (actually, the contents aren’t too scanty but the edible contents are indeed scarce). I tried reading several titles from the mock-Newbery list (Gnat Stokes and the Foggy Bottom Swamp Queen failed to please after several chapters; Down the Rabbit Hole proved a bit better, but like my supervisor said, it’s tempting to give up after he mentions a “kick-ass stereo system.”) I tried to eat something to see if that would perk me up. I discovered a package of cream cheese and just enough unsweetened chocolate to throw together a small pan of cream cheese brownies, the making of which revived me greatly and I proceeded to bear them in splendor to the church kitchen.

Then there was the Modern Era, in which I avoided closing my eyes in church because I was afraid I would fall asleep standing. There was greeting of old friends, the strange sense of tired perception where some things were in focus and others were hopelessly blurry, the too-loud whispers of adolescent girls, the snoring of toddlers. Then, finally, after a plate of tiny quiches, Ethiopian food (the taste of which I always associate with post-feast potlucks), ham, and a creamy chocolately dessert thingy, there was bed. Or rather, couch. Because God forbid we waste a precious moment in the morning with me driving the arduous five minutes from my house to my parents’. God forbid. It’s like the census, we all have to return to our ancestral homes to be counted. I suppose a couch is a fair sight better than a manger, though.