A prize fight is over when one man is out. Football season is over when the Super Bowl ends. Summer is over when you drag out your flannel pajamas.
But nothing is over like Christmas is over when it's over.
Why does the tree which seems to grow in glory as gifts fill the space beneath it and special ornaments are added look like a bedraggled bag lady at 2:33 p.m., December 25? It cowers in our living room right now, knowing I can't wait to drag it out to the back yard and turn it into firewood.
And what about all that Christmas in Your Heart jazz? The same truck driver who waited, smiled, and wished me a Merry Christmas as I walked across the street on December 22 flipped me the bird on the 27th when I raced him for the lead on a stretch of highway where two lanes become one.
Oh yes, Christmas is definitely over when you weigh in on the day the house guests leave. The ghosts of party food, hostess candy, and fattened geese past return to haunt you. They stay around a heck of a lot longer than the Christmas Spirit.
And about those parties. Why is it we hear from some of our friends only once a year? If they are going to entertain only once, why can't it be, say, May 23? Or August 12? August 12 would be a swell time to go to a party -- why do we get three invitations a night for the two weeks before Christmas and nothing the rest of the year?
How about Christmas cards that arrive on the 26th? Just not the same zing, is it? It's over.
Christmas shopping. The tug of warmth you feel in your heart when finding that perfect gift for someone special gets very luke when the gift is advertised at 50 percent off right after you've wrapped it.
My perfect friend told me she got all her shopping done during one lunch hour in October, thus avoiding the rush, the crowds, the etcetera. Her purchases were the right size, the right color, so terribly wonderful. Her smugness was disgusting.
However, she had to return every gift she received, battling the crowds, arm wrestling for the last size-medium black sweater, parking in the next town. There is no free lunch. You can't avoid the Grinchy side of Christmas.
When Christmas is over, that sprig of shriveled leaves thumbtacked above the December doorways of hopeful romantics is thrown away for the parasite it is. You never see bouquets of mistletoe on Easter dinner tables, do you? How can the bright red poinsettias that shine so festive and new as we set them out look so faded and passe one day after the 25th? They look as dated as dust.
Also, you don't hear one Christmas carol after the big day. No one whistles "Jingle Bells,'' the Little Drummer Boy disappears, the night is silent.
There are so many little signs that it's over when it's over. If you have kids, you know they give evidence as reliable as the coal miner's canary does when it keels over in its cage. Christmas is gone when you notice their beady little eyes glazing over. You can bet the house that their next whiny words are going to be "there's nothing to do" followed by "I want."
Never mind that they opened boxes of toys for two hours Christmas morning. Disregard that you have to pole vault over the swag heaped in their bedroom doorways. When you hear "there's nothing to do," that's when you really know it: Christmas is over.