The first thing to do is to send the Christmas tablecloth and napkins to the good laundry, the one that won't stick metal tabs through the corners.
I know a lot of household hints about removing stains, but they never work for me and after hours of scrubbing spots with toothbrushes and odious mixtures, I end up sending the stained item out anyway. If you can get the spots out, do it. But the sane course is a good expensive laundry.
Then you can begin to work on the children to write their thank-you notes. There are people who think they went out with antimacassars, but the people who trudged through the stores and finally found something to buy will appreciate a note, however written and spelled, from your child. Besides, it will teach them that if you receive, you must acknowledge. Whether or not they liked the present isn't pertinent. Even if it's notepaper with little knots of flowers in the corner, have them write the note.
And then do your own. Because you have to, that's why, and just because the pinnacle of excitement has crumbled a bit, it's still Christmas all this week. As a matter of fact it goes on to what my dear South American friend Elvira calls Little Christmas, Jan. 6, the Feast of the Epiphany, when the Wise Men finally came into sight and were shown the infant Jesus. Same thing as Twelfth Night.
I don't know what to tell you to do with the leftovers; they're getting to be terminal cases right about now, anyway. If you had ham, toss it in a pot with lima beans, onions and brown sugar and mustard and whatever strikes your fancy.
It is time to make turkey soup, as you must have known. Put the carcass in the roasting pan and simmer it for hours. Then toss out the bones. To the pot add cubed carrots, minced parsley, onions, leftover gravy, a few pieces of meat and barley--but not too much barley, bearing in mind that it expands like rice. If you don't like barley, toss in some noodles or some rice and some chicken bouillon. You will note that the soup you planned is an obstinate gray, like wash water. Just keep putting in things until it has sufficient flavor.
Don't hurry to take the decorations down. I get as vexed with people who sweep Christmas out of the house on Dec. 26 as I do with those clear-eyed, square-shouldered people who look you right in the eye on Sept. 1 as if to say, "Well, I just wrapped my last present."
How sad. They missed the quaking hysteria that comes with shopping and wrapping right down to the wire.
Is there any eggnog left? If there is, it's probably kind of separated and should be sent whishing merrily down the garbage disposal. Make a new batch. I start with the kind from the dairy, add milk, half-and-half, beaten egg whites, whipped cream, vanilla, rum, brandy and bourbon. I think it's better if you cut it with straight homogenized milk instead of cream, which makes it too rich and coats the roof of your mouth with butter. Actually, I'm not too crazy about eggnog because it has a tendency to taste like bath powder. But it's time for eggnog. You don't have to make great vats--just a modest bowlful.
My father used to make Tom and Jerrys, adding the liquor to the beaten egg yolks a drop at a time. No one seems to make it anymore unless they live in snow country, and we've been having rum Collins weather, lately.
It is almost time to put the Christmas presents away. You can't just leave them tossed casually over the couch until the New Year. If you got something of which you already have several, take them to the thrift shop at your hospital. You aren't really going to go back to the store, stand in line and wait to get the money back. Beside, that's a little tacky. That is, unless it's wearing apparel and you just need a different size. Then you have to do the exchange routine.
Does the column seem gloomy? Of course it does. I have a cold. Do not tell me that there is a lot of that going around. The rest of you have sniffles. I have a cold, the kind that has baffled medical science forever. I ache, my throat is sore. My sinuses ache. See? A real cold.
Try to avoid it if you can. By this time of the week, between Christmas and New Year's, you're so tired from being sparkling and serving witty little meals, you are prey to every bug that comes along. Remember to sit down and put your feet up, make a cup of tea, a Scotch and water, an eggnog, whatever will bring the roses to your cheeks. And don't forget the soup. By now, I think it may be starting to stick.