The day after Christmas has always been a little bit sad. After all, the anticipation part of the big day is over. Only New Year’s to look forward to, and for a non-partier like me that’s not much of a holiday.
Normally I spend weeks preparing for Christmas. I like to bake, and every year I make at least a dozen varieties—often more than one batch because I take a big box to my publisher, Tyndale House, which is local to me. Then I make more cookies for holiday gatherings and family to enjoy.
Like everyone else, I spend weeks shopping for and wrapping gifts. 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 but with six kids 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, then opening them, that was half the fun. Added to the pile were little gifts each of us kids would buy for each other. 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. My family does read about the birth of Christ from Luke, and we used to have a birthday cake for Jesus—a tradition I’ve let go in the last couple of years because there were already so many sweets in the house.
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 on this day after Christmas, instead of feeling let down that it’s all over, the older I get and the faster this day seems to come each year, I realize this day after is perhaps every bit as wonderful as those leading up to yesterday. This is the day I take time to thank God for so many blessings in my life—I saw them on the faces in my family. And this morning when I walked the dog, when the sun was just a promise in the sky, it lit the frost on the grass and rooftops the most spectacular shade of bluish green that instead of walking I nearly wanted to get down on my knees to thank God for the blessing of creation.
Life really is a miracle, and now with my days ready to return to the life He gave me I’m saying Thank You! And on with life as usual . . .