There’s a joke that’s been going around my family for several years now: “December 25 is over. At last I can enjoy Christmas!”
Because as much as we love it, the days and weeks leading up to Christmas can be a stress-fest. Between Christmas shopping, gift-wrapping, tree-trimming, house-cleaning, cooking, entertaining, and carrying on with your regular job, it’s all too easy to be overwhelmed. And to start wondering whether you should have booked yourself on a holiday cruise, rather than sticking around for Yuletide madness.
"For dinner we had turkey and blazing pudding, and after dinner, the Uncles sat in front of the fire, loosened all buttons, put their large moist hands over their watch chains, groaned a little, and slept."
Dylan Thomas, A Child's Christmas in Wales
Illustration by Fritz Eichenberg
Image courtesy of The Art of Children's Picture Books
But once the gifts have been given, the feast consumed, and the guests entertained, the pressure is suddenly, miraculously off. And a more leisurely observance of Christmas can begin, in which you can just enjoy the season and the company of friends and loved ones.
The period between Christmas and New Year’s has no official name, but it’s been called many things. Christians have referred to it as Christmas week, or the Twelve Holy Days (the ones commemorated in the famous carol, which last until January 6--the Feast of the Epiphany). In Norway, the time is called “Romjul” or “Space Christmas.” Some tongue-in-cheek suggestions from bloggers include “Slackmas” and “Restivus.” But overall, there seems to be a general consensus that these are days of recovery--and relative peace.
Poster designed by Xavier Romero-Frias
Some find this period anticlimactic and a bit dull after the excitement of Christmas. But you develop a whole new appreciation for those post-Christmas days once you have to surrender them to some other obligation. Long ago, in another life, I would spend those days at a major professional conference, usually in a city deep in the icy grip of winter. Tensions ran high, especially among anxious job seekers, and most of the attendees seemed to want to be just about anywhere else. And I must confess, I was one of them.
These days I spend “Space Christmas” quietly at home, catching up on my reading--both for pleasure and research; going to a few movies; trying out new recipes; spending time with my family; exploring ideas, hatching plots, and falling in love with writing all over again.
I wouldn’t have it any other way.
And so to everyone, a happy Christmas week/Romjul/Restivus, and best wishes for a fantastic New Year!