Wednesday, December 27, 2006

More on Christmas Decay
Yesterday's post, about the Big Letdown After Christmas (and comparing it to the half-life of an extremely unstable atom) got me to thinking about what it was like for me, as a kid, the days after Christmas. I mainly remember being absolutely, totally bored, since there was no school, it was usually cold out, I was sick of my family and the gifts I received were either already built (car and monster models), read (books), listened to until new grooves were worn (vinyl), or eaten (candy, etc.) The tree in the living room suddenly became the Relative That Wouldn't Depart, its glass ornaments and lights somehow reminiscent of a tacky Vegas side street. My parents, who came of age during WWII (The Big One), were used to a certain level of drudgery, and so when December 26 dawned, all festivities were over. I don't remember doing anything that could have prolonged the celebration of the season, and New Year's Eve usually found me sick from a cold or an ear infection.

Sometimes it snowed, which meant sledding, which was fun - except with packed snow got past your mittens and lodged on the underside of your wrist, which got really really cold. We never went anywhere warm during the winter, but we did go skiing for a number of years, which was also fun. Mainly, though, the departure of Christmas meant at least three months of frigid temperatures, various illnesses, steady darkness, and a creeping exhaustion from too much December activity and empty calories.

This year, one of my nephews said, in the middle of the afternoon on Christmas Eve, "This is the longest day of the year!" His dad (one of my brothers) and I told him all about Christmas 1965, emphasizing and exaggerating various deprivations we experienced (black and white TV, 4 TV stations, no seating at McDonald's, unsharpened pencils in our stockings, zero X-NintendoBox.) We told him how great he's got it, and said we could celebrate Christmas 1965 next year. But my nephew's heard this all before about other things in our past (which I take as my duty to tell him) and is unimpressed. Although I do think he's somewhat concerned we might actually show him what it was like Way Back When.

Things have definitely improved now. While I get 99% less presents on Christmas morning, I have options to survive the winter: Atlantis cruises, Fort Lauderdale, alcohol, money. Still, I think my nephews experience some of the letdown at this time of the year that I experienced. And I don't know if that's good or bad.

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