My favorite time of year! That time in between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. It lasts nearly a week. The day after Christmas is traditionally my absolute favorite. It is no longer as much a necessity as it was in those chaotic days when we had five children still in school.
While they were all still living at home, Christmas was extremely hectic. Charley, Helen, Lilla, Robert, and Murdoch were as excited by Christmas as I was. I loved it. But the coordination necessary to pull it all off makes my head spin these days. All those Christmas cards and all those presents, including for a lot of other friends, family and Godchildren, besides our own children. The planning for a Christmas party for friends and children a few days before Christmas was just another added project. Trying to be inventive and original on a limited amount of extra money. Those bills that came in later could be a real downer. But on the day after Christmas, I felt like a very accomplished person. I knew I had pulled off a small miracle. That day after it was all over was my reward. It used to be a day when I could just relax and do NOTHING. Everything was done already. There was so much leftover food I did not have to cook either.
The house still looked beautiful after Christmas Day celebrations and it was usually pretty clean except for a lot of extra ripped-up, used, wrapping paper, ribbon, and empty boxes. These were easily disposed of. I felt so vindicated on that day. Especially when my family was young or still coming to me for Christmas dinner with their own budding families. Mostly, as they grew in number, they began to have Christmas at their own houses, except for one daughter and her family who lived nearby. They lived with us while their house was being built so their children had early Christmases at “Gramma and Granddad’s“ house. That one family came back to me longer than the others. This was very flattering. Years passed and now I am able to be “the guest” and spend Christmas Day with my children at one of their homes.
Either way, the sense of accomplishment is real after the rush of getting all these things done. Christmas Cards! When will I learn that they can be done earlier? I don’t have to wait till after Thanksgiving to order them. It really does not matter if the photos on the cards are up to the last minute! And there are so many in my family I have a lot of trouble finding good photos that include all of them even if failing a huge family group photo, I try to find them in their own family photos.
My family and other younger people don’t realize that pictures of people on cards were once unusual. When I was a little girl in the 1940s, my parents were one of the very few who sent a photo Christmas card. Most people bought cards with pretty Nativity scenes or angels on high, or snow scenes with sleighs and jingle bells. Santa made an appearance on some cards but these were frowned upon by “old-timers” for eschewing religion which after all was the “reason for the season”. I guess those same people did not approve of family photos either. Choosing which card to send was a real task of great importance. People cared about what their cards looked like and what they represented. The people who used to make a living illustrating cards for this season must have noticed a huge drop in their business.
These days it is rare to receive a card with a religious theme. The huge variety and inventiveness of those cards seem to have dissipated. Now family photos have begun to dominate Christmas Cards from friends. And most are photographic memorabilia of the family’s events for the year. They are so enjoyable. It is a way to keep up with people one hasn’t seen in years. Thank goodness for photo Christmas cards. My parents let me send my own photo cards when I was ten years old. I continued to send them throughout my girlhood and later after marriage, I worked up to a list of 500 which we sent out annually until our marriage ended after 43 years. My children were horrified when I told them I would let our friends know about our divorce by card. They thought it was in poor taste, while I thought it was just being honest. Anyway, I let them convince me not to do it. For several years I sent NO cards. What a relief!!! At first, the lack of pressure was wonderful, but honestly, I began to miss the “connection”. Gradually I have begun again. I hand address each of them so that I can think of each person or family as I write the card. It makes me happy to do this. And if there is anything I have learned it is this: “Do what makes you happy!”
The day after Christmas is one of my happiest. Perhaps you have a similar feeling. There is something about the feeling of peace after all your work is done. I feel so content. Some people don’t like Christmas because of all the social pressures to keep the customs and embellish them from year to year. Too bad. They miss a lot of fun! Sometimes all it takes is an attitude change. It is a happy time for me and it makes me grateful for my family and friends.
I hope you had a Merry Christmas and please have a Happy New Year!
Copyright©. 2022 Bonnie B. Matheson