Whoever says that there is nothing more wonderful than the sound of a child’s laughter has never heard my kids laughing at 5 am. Seriously, what can possibly be funny at 5 am? Funny doesn’t start until at least…8 am.
It’s The Day After Christmas Day, and they’re still enjoying the spoils of Black Friday; and to be honest, I’m overjoyed that they’re still impressed with their loot nearly 24 hours later. Their attention span typically runs short these days.
I get up, head to the gym, and come back home with a bit more energy to face The Day After Christmas Day. Teenagers have rearranged the neighbor’s reindeer display into something decidedly un-Christmasy, yet making merry. There is a tree inside my house, with lights and a star. The jolly fat man has visited and it looks like the Ghost of Christmas Present has thrown up in my living room after having binged on cardboard and wrapping paper. Anyone who doubts the existence of Santa Claus only needs to take a single look at my credit card statement...any more than a single look would likely induce nausea. The Day After sales try to wrench another dollar from my wallet, but I refuse to go anywhere near a mall today. After all, this is the day we all come to grips with the lie that is “it was the thought that counts” and embrace the gift receipt that came with those half-baked thoughts of ugly holiday sweaters and technologies that are just so yesterday.
Ah, Christmas…what a weird and wonderful tradition.
Time to pack it up and call it a year.
I use my patent-pending U-Been-Grinched™ De-Christmas method that strips and packs a tree and de-decorates the house inside an hour. Getting pieces of tree out of my carpet remains my biggest challenge and I groan at the absurdity of getting pieces of tree out of my carpet. My daughter, leaving for work, doesn’t even say a “good morning” to me. She says simply “Goodbye Christmas tree” and heads out the door.
My wife wakes up, sees the house returned to a sense of normal, and groans at my Scrooge-like behavior…you know, before the ghosts came and paid him a visit.
“Did you do this last night?” she grumbles, and I’m shocked at the idea. I ate so much food at Christmas dinner I couldn’t move off my chair. I unbuckled and settled in for a Doctor Who marathon, lamenting the loss of the coolest Doctor Who companion ever…Amy Pond. Damn those Weeping Angels. But I digress.
On our first Day After Christmas Day together years ago, I shocked my wife with this OCD-like tweak of mine. She left for groceries and was stunned to return home to find Christmas was gone. Over. Kaput. I’d had enough of it. After that first year she wouldn’t leave the house, determined to stretch the holiday until at least the first of the new year. We’d go hungry, left to forage on chocolate krinkles and sugar cookies for days until all that was left to eat was Grandma’s fruitcake. Desperate times.
If I could get away with it, I’d visit each of my neighbor’s houses and strip their outside light strings and deflate the giant snow globes, Frostys, and Santas once and for all…or, at least, until next Thanksgiving. I just don’t want to see it anymore.
I don’t hate Christmas, mind you. I rather love the holiday. In doses. And Black-Friday-to-The-Day-After-Christmas-Day seems beyond all the dose I can tolerate.
But Christmas itself—the spirit of Christmas, anyway—needn’t be over.
From #26Acts, paying it forward, and other less random acts of kindness, this Christmas felt particularly full of goodwill towards our fellow man.
We needed it to be.
And as the Christmas lights fade, and the giant Santas deflate, and the retailers move on to the next holiday marketing blitz, we still need it to be.
My challenge to myself and to the rest of us is that we never forget why we needed this Christmas to be something more than it might have been in the past…that we never forget the inspired good.
And on those days I don’t feel particularly merry or generous, I’m going to remember a bit of wit from Mark Twain: The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up.
For random acts of kindness should not be limited to December 25, but should also include The Day After Christmas Day, and every day beyond. We are wired for good, folks. I simply have to believe this.
Christmas may be over at my house, but Christmas spirit and goodwill towards my fellow man…I’m going to keep that going.
Have an awesome 2013!
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