When I was a kid, Christmas morning was the high point of the season. Nothing could top the sheer excitement of a morning spent opening gifts under the tree. And I distinctly recall that the morning after — the morning of the 26th — always felt like a bit of a letdown. You still had the gifts to play with, of course, but somehow the Best Part of the Season had already come and gone.
I see things differently now.
Now, I wake up on the 26th full of anticipation. Because as an adult, I’ve come to believe that the period between Christmas Day and New Year’s is, in fact, the best part of the season.
It’s the best part of the season because the heavy lifting is done. The gifts are purchased, wrapped, opened. The cookies are made. The house is decorated. The Christmas meals have been planned, made, eaten; the dishes are clean and put away. I don’t want to make it sound like that is all work; I enjoy the holiday preparations. Realistically speaking, though, they can be stressful, especially when balancing other things (like a job) at the same time.
So when the 26th rolls around, life is more leisurely. The house is festive and pretty and nothing big needs to be done. I have time to sit with a cup of tea and look at the fireplace and enjoy the tree, just letting myself be. That time between Christmas and New Year’s is a chance to dive into one of the new books I got as a gift (because I always get at least one book each year, usually more), and to read it without guilt. It’s a chance to listen to Christmas carols (like this beautiful one) and to absorb the full meaning and magic of the Incarnation, with a mind that is no longer acting like a lord-a-leaping, bouncing from one task to the next.
It’s a blessed time, a magical time. And it’s now.