Tuesday, December 27, 2011
The Days After Christmas
Normally I spend weeks preparing for Christmas. Decorating, shopping, wrapping and baking; and there are always a thousand little details and incidentals to take care of.
Buying several gifts for each member of the family is a tradition I grew up with. My parents didn't have a lot of money when they were young but they still managed to fill up the space below the Christmas tree with all kinds of things. Most only cost a few dollars—but it was the fun of seeing so many wrapped presents and wondering what they could be. Lots of little but thoughtful presents are the tradition in my family, one I've tried to carry on even as it's become harder to keep the cost reasonable.
Then there is a special Christmas meal, preparing something that's a bit out of the ordinary or a little more lavish than the everyday cooking that usually goes on around here. My bathroom scale attests to the fact that around the days leading up to and including Christmas are filled with lots of fun calories.
But now the days ahead will get back to "normal." Apart from the relief that the number on that scale shouldn't keep going up (but hopefully back down once the last cookie disappears!) it's a bit of a let down to have the festivities over and done.
Perhaps the European way is better. I've heard in Germany they celebrate St. Nicholas Day (December 6th) with gifts for the children, but Christmas Day is reserved for more spiritual reflection. It would be a good way to avoid that after Christmasx let-down. After a day of somber thinking and reflecting, the following day would seem much more cheerful.
Christmas in this country is what it is: material, commercialized, secularized in so many ways. Some of the traditions I carry on, and will no doubt continue to carry on, reflect that. But it's fun, it's a happy time, it's filled with cheer. And on this day or so after Christmas, instead of feeling let down that it's all over, as I have always felt, I find that the older I get and the faster this day seems to come each year, I'm feeling more relieved than sad. I realize perhaps today is every bit as wonderful as those leading up to Christmas. This is the day I take time to count the many blessings in my life—I saw them on the happy faces of my family. This morning as I walked the dog, when the sun was just a promise in the sky and lit the frost on the grass and the rooftops the most spectacular shade of bluish green, I felt that life was pretty good and although the world is in sorry shape it is full of hope and good things and good people who care.
Life really is a miracle. Just the fact that we are here is a miracle, whether they find the Higg's Boson or not ( don't ask). And so, on with life as usual . . . The sales are really good this week; I may start stocking up for next Christmas.