Celebrating all the days of Christmas
I can say it over and over. And I can write it a million times. There are 12 days of Christmas and this is only Day 2. Christmas hasn’t passed. It’s just beginning. That’s what my friend Father Coen used to preach.
Relax. Enjoy. ’Tis the season, still. It’s not too late to write cards, he said. Or to visit friends. Or to have a party. Or to bake that Irish bread you promised to make. The season doesn’t end until Jan. 6.
So why every year, on this day after Christmas, does it always feel too late? Why, every year, on this day after Christmas, does Christmas feel done, finished, kaput — and not like a carousel winding down slowly so that you get used to it, but like a door slamming in your face.
People get weaned from things. With Christmas there is no weaning. It’s cold-turkey in more ways than one.
I blame the world, TV and radio, and newspapers, and even the Internet. They fill us with holiday spirit for weeks, for months, nonstop holiday spirit, only to evict Christmas the morning after.
Overnight, while we sleep, Christmas vanishes. We wake up on Dec. 26 and there are no more holiday songs on the radio, not even seasonal ones like “Winter Wonderland” and “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” There are no more happy Christmas stories on TV. No more feel-good Christmas headlines in the newspapers. No more greetings from brave soldiers. No Christmas miracles.
Instead, all we hear are ads about after-holiday sales, and post-Christmas specials, and how it’s time now to make New Year’s plans and New Year’s resolutions (Lose that Christmas weight! Get organized!) even though there are cookies and pies on the table and our Christmas trees are still fresh.
Yesterday, we looked around our house, at the decorations and presents, at all the food, at our family and friends having a good time, and we felt blessed.
Today we look around and see the same things, but instead of feeling blessed we feel as if we should be cleaning up and putting things away.
Christmas feels like a kid’s birthday party at Monster Mini Golf or anywhere where parents pay and children arrive and there’s a special room with balloons and cake and everything is perfect and the birthday kid is smiling and all the children are eating and singing and happy.
These parties are amazing. They’re fun to plan and fun to have. But they’re on the clock. After an hour or two, the party’s over. Time’s up and it’s adios, kids. Nice to see you. Nice to see you go. And the birthday girl leaves with her presents and the room is readied for another party. And though it’s all good, and everyone has a good time, in the end you feel a little rushed.
That’s how the day after Christmas usually feels. It’s as if we were having a party and a whistle blew and now it’s over, but we don’t want it to be.
Today will be different, because my son and his family will be visiting from New York. And because the radio has stopped playing Christmas songs, we’ll play CDs. And because the holiday specials are over until next year, we’ll watch “Rudolph” and “Scrooge” on DVD. We’ll heat up the turkey and sit by the fire and open presents and laugh and tell stories.
It will be what it’s supposed to be: the second day of Christmas.
All week will be like this. The third day and the fourth and the fifth. Toys in the living room. Children playing. Someone making something in the kitchen. Chaos. Family. Fun.
The itch will come, though, to pack it all away. To clean up. To get back to normal. If I pay attention to the world.
So I won’t. For as many days of Christmas as I can, I’ll pay attention to my family instead.
Beverly Beckham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.