The mad rush to Christmas, that stressful sprint that makes me swear off the holidays every year, is finally over and I’m chilling at home. I need the downtime after spending the past week sleeping too little and eating too much, sweeping away crumpled tissue paper and cleaning up after guests. Not to mention partying and dancing and gorging and imbibing.
In short, I’ve not been myself.
Whether or not we care to admit it, socializing can be draining. Fun, especially the seasonal kind, turns out to be exhausting, too. And all those blinking lights, and goosebumpy music, and gorgeous decorations — after a while, even those can overwhelm.
But now … now. Oh! It’s seven days of limbo, a vacation from the seasonal bacchanal that is family and food and friends. There’s nothing quite as relaxing, and boring, and strangely comforting as the week connecting Christmas to New Year’s. It deserves an honorific title, some label to distinguish it from the 51 weeks that precede it. Perhaps Postmas. Or Preyear. Or Oldnewvus. Maybe Newoldvus. Something, anything, serious or otherwise.
Labeling this time of year is not a new idea, by the way. In Norway, it’s called Romjul, the space of days between Christmas and New Year’s. People continue to eat and socialize, but generally they do as they please — which, in a Scandinavian winter, probably means hanging out by the fire.
I also think Postmas/Preyear should be declared a national holiday, a period in which we are allowed to veg without a serious thought to what’s ahead. It’s an opportunity to ban emails, silence alarm clocks, forget calendars, and ignore social media; to do without the hamster wheel that is 21st-century life. This in-between week should be regarded as a communal recovery time.
After all, soon enough New Year’s will bring demands and responsibilities, a forced antidote to the indulgences of the previous month. New Year’s is about willpower and resolutions, about losing weight, saving money, hitting the gym. Merely thinking of New Year’s — the return to routine, the arrival of new expectations — gives me butterflies.
Thank goodness, we’re not there yet. So instead this is how I’m spending my time.
Reading. And not just during moments pilfered from daily demands. I’m reading when I want to, in the mornings and in the afternoons, when I should be tidying up or fetching groceries or folding laundry. Having that freedom without guilt is pure bliss.
Napping. Or trying to, since I’m not good at lying about in the middle of the day. Nonetheless knowing I can if I want is as good as eating an entire box of Godiva chocolates.
Visiting friends across town, and having relatives down for the warm weather. The aunt I hardly ever see.
Mostly, however, I’m sitting on the pause button. I’m intent on doing nothing — or, if tempted, whatever suits my fancy. My plans are fluid, my commitments scant, and being able to release myself from such strictures is proof I’m all grown up. There is an art to relaxing, I’ve learned, a talent to tuning out what nibbles at our attention and gnaws at our soul. It has taken me a long time to master it.
Directionless days used to drive me batty, but age has taught me to accept them with grace, namely because they’re so few and far between. In a frenetic, frantic world, who knows when they will come my way again.