It's the same every year.
Four weeks of insanity followed by a day or two of release and then, abruptly, it all comes to an end.
For the most wonderful time of the year, it comes like spring - in like a lion, out like a lamb.
Shopping, cooking, wrapping presents, spending more money than you should, rewrapping presents because the new puppy unwrapped the first bunch, a whirlwind of holiday parties, rewrapping presents again because you didn't learn your lesson the first time.
Is it any wonder that the holidays are the most stressful time of year for most Americans?
But, those weeks of preparation culminate in a few days that make them all worth it and make the memory of the insanity fade.
By the end of the holiday season, you're missing the very thing that just a few days ago you were wishing just got over.
And the memories still are fresh.
They say that Christmas isn't the same without children.
And they do, indeed, play a very special role.
Their enthusiasm is contagious. Their rapture invokes the magic of the season, but what they really add to the holiday is comic relief.
They do this in two ways - the things they say and do, and the toys they get.
The first part is pretty self-explanatory. Children really do say the funniest things, but we'll get to that later.
Why are their toys hilarious? Because kids have to fight with adults to get two minutes with their new remote control thingamajig and when adults get a hold of toys, there will be hilarity and disaster in equal proportion.
And then there was the sarcasm ball.
You remember the magic eight ball? You asked a question, shook it and the answer to your question floats to the top?
Well, there's a new version that 7-year-old Nikki and 8-year-old Katie loved.
Why wouldn't they? Sarcasm is right up their alley.
Our version? You pick up Nikki, ask her something like 'Am I the best mom ever?' and shake her.
Out comes an answer like "whatever" or "in your dreams," or my favorite, "that's a dumb question, ask a different one."
I know, I know. Not the best lesson to be teaching your children, but we couldn't help laughing anyway.
But, we had one memory that made every bit of pre-holiday stress disappear.
Every family does. You know, that one story that people tell on Monday morning when co-workers ask "how was your Christmas?"
Ours begins with my sweetly overprotective, prone to overreaction sister who traveled from Oklahoma with her family to spend Christmas with ours.
Our family has Christmas dinner at a restaurant, which, when closed to the public, is the ideal place for a family gathering.
My 20-month-old niece, Jaden, was a hit. Walking around in her sparkly shoes, and holding a cell phone to her ear, she had everyone's attention.
So, it was inconceivable that she was able to escape notice long enough to strut into the men's room.
Her mother noticed her first, walking out with one pink disk in her hand and the other in her mouth.
Cathy went running over, scared to death that her daughter was eating candles.
She had never even heard of a urinal cake.
The nice lady from poison control didn't even laugh, but did mention that, in her 20 years on the job, this was only the second time she'd been asked what precautions to take when your baby chewed on one.
And that, my friends, is Christmas.