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Archive for December 26th, 2011

Christmas is forever, not for just one day, for loving, sharing, giving, are not to put away like bells and lights and tinsel, in some box upon a shelf.  –  Norman Wesley Brooks

All right, readers in Commonwealth countries; today is your turn.  Back on the day after Thanksgiving (now widely referred to in the United States and part of Canada as “Black Friday”) I scolded American readers about fighting crowds for bargains at overhyped sales “events”, and today it’s your turn.  As explained in my column of one year ago today, the day after Christmas is called “Boxing Day” in the UK and many of her former colonies, and was for many centuries a day for giving charity; it was “the day on which English churches opened their alms boxes to the poor, the day on which servants were allowed to ‘box up’ the remains of Christmas feasts and take the day off to visit relatives, and the day on which tradesmen came by to collect their ‘Christmas boxes’ from families who wished to give them such gifts”; it’s even the day on which Good King Wenceslas was reputed to have gone out into the snow to help a poor man gather firewood.  But now it has, like the day after Thanksgiving, degenerated into a time for the greedy to help themselves to “bargains” they don’t need.

And so, at the risk of being labeled a nag, I’m going to once again urge my readers to stay away from all this hype.  I myself have pointed out many times that holidays evolve over time, and new traditions supplant the old; I realize that it’s absurd to expect modern city-dwellers to go masking or wassailing, but surely those who don’t need to work today can find something better to do with their time than assisting “big box” merchants in clearing out their overstock so they don’t get assessed inventory taxes on anything still in the store come January 2nd.  How about visiting family, or calling old friends one hasn’t seen in a while?  How about just relaxing at home, playing games or watching favorite movies?  That’s how we spend ours; my husband says he often enjoys the day after holidays more because I’m not rushing about like a madwoman preparing a feast singlehandedly.

As the carol reminds us, Christmas was traditionally a twelve-day festival which ran all the way to January 5th (Twelfth Night).  And though we no longer live in an agrarian society wherein most people have the luxury of doing nothing but celebrate for nigh on two weeks, very few of us are so busy that we need to be in a hurry to cut the holiday short, either.  Modern commercial Christmas is all buildup, so much so that for those caught up in the hype the day itself can seem anticlimactic; by Boxing Day many people (and most companies) are ready to clear away the remnants, fold up the decorations, discard the Christmas trees and move on to the next thing.  But it doesn’t have to be like that; if we can be festive for a month (and more) leading up to the day, what’s the harm in eleven days more?  Christmas comes only once a year, and in my opinion it seems a bit rude to rush a guest out practically as soon as he arrives.

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