The Day After

It’s the day after Christmas here, Boxing Day. In the UK it is still…just…Christmas and many in the USA are sitting down to Christmas supper right now.

I had a wonderful Christmas, my eldest came home on Christmas Eve, and the family had a great day together. The day started early when 3 of us went for a run on the beach at 6 am. The weather was warm and the surf was up, so after an hour or so of running we headed home and roused the others and put in a surfing session before heading back to open stockings.

Pancakes for breakfast followed, then presents from under the tree. We all joined in together to make Christmas dinner, complete with crackers, jokes, charades and silly hats, and after the kids cleared and washed up we settled around the table for family games. The weather broke in the afternoon and it started raining heavily, so we decided not to have a family walk on the beach but retired to comfy chairs and sofas to read our Christmas books. After supper the girls went out for an evening with friends whilst those of us left at home watched a surfing movie together. And there were no earthquakes either.

All in all a marvellous  day. I had a lot of fun, and the family said it was a great day as well.

So why do I like Boxing Day better than Christmas? Surely…SURELY…I cannot be so much of a Grinch as to join the adults I hated to hear when I was a child? Those who said “Thank goodness THAT is over for another year!”

And I don’t think that. I love Christmas with its family traditions, the presents, even the silly Santa hats and reindeer antlers. I like finding surprise gifts that will make people smile, yet not break the bank or just be on the slow route to the landfill. I enjoy cooking good vegan food, I love having the whole family together. I even like it in summer, although I grew up with Christmas as a winter festival. So why do I like Boxing Day so much?

I think it is partly the sense of achievement. We did it! Christmas was great. Everybody enjoyed themselves, and the day went as planned. But this in itself is interesting. What expectations had I set up that I am now so relieved it went well? How would I have felt if things had not gone the way I had planned?

Is it right to have all these expectations over one day of the year? Yes, Christmas is an important day, but not necessarily the most important one of the year, either in the religious sense….Easter is a more important festival….or the secular. We have other religious days, birthdays, anniversaries, holidays. And yet, for some reason, Christmas is the one day we must all get right. The season of goodwill, the festival of families.

Maybe next year I will try to be more laid back. To let Christmas just happen. But then we all know those great days that appear to unfold seamlessly are often planned like a military operation! How do we find the balance? How do we plan enough…but not too much? How do we have simple expectations….but not too many?

And this is the balance we need to find for life, the Buddhist ‘middle way’. Not too little, and not too much. Just enough, and no more. The ‘perfect’ simple life.

If only it were that simple!

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