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Celebrating on the day after Christmas

Boxing Day. A holiday not celebrated in the United States, unfortunately, but is in my native Canada and elsewhere in the colonies of the British Empire.

It is, of course, the day after Christmas. A day when we all sit back and rest from the stresses and strains of the holiday season, with its buildup to Christmas Day itself. A day of letdown. A day to celebrate if for no other reason than that Christmas is finally over.

Oh, the cash registers will still ring with gifts returned and exchanged for what we really wanted. But the home festivities are over. Done with for another year. For some, the tree will come down and the decorations will be stored away. Others hang in there until Epiphany, the 6th of January, the day of the alleged arrival of the three wise men to Bethlehem to see for themselves the Prince of Peace.

The origin of the holiday is lost in the dim recesses of time. Clearly it has nothing to do with the sport of boxing, although there are some who may resort to their fists when the bills from Christmas gift purchases come rolling in. It is thought by some to go back to feudal times, to be the day after Christmas when the wealthy shared a bit of their riches with their servants and staff by giving them small boxes of food and wine, or a small amount of money and the day off to belatedly celebrate Christmas with their own families after having worked by waiting on the needs of their employers on the actual day of Christmas.

In any event, the holiday is widely recognized, either as an official holiday in some countries or just one that is kept informally in others. Except in the United States, that is. Here it is not celebrated at all. Except by a few ex-pat Canadians or Brits or Aussies, still caught up in the traditions of the Old Country.

I am one such celebrant. Born in Canada but not having lived there for many years, I nonetheless kick back on the day after Christmas and something in my Canadian soul says this is the right thing to do. Of course, it may just be that I am so glad Christmas is over and everyone has finally gone home that I’m just too tired of it all to want to move.

In any event, I celebrate Boxing Day in my heart. A day for eating leftovers, for tossing out the crumpled wrapping paper. A day for reading a good book. Or for writing an essay on Boxing Day. The flatulent Santa Claus figurine I squeeze to make my grandchildren laugh, and to shock their parents, is safely back in the cardboard carton he came in, the batteries removed, his sounds now silenced so he can enjoy another year without the disturbing rumblings rising from below when his finger is pulled by the unsuspecting.

And I? I will put my childhood away for another year as well. Christmas, they say, is a time for children. If so, it is time for me to return to the staid and stuffy adult I have come to be. Yes, with a sigh and a measure of regret, it is time to become my grown-up self again.

Bah! Humbug!

Ronald Talney is a resident of Lake Oswego.

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