Granddaughter Willow wrote a regular humor column for her school newspaper on the subject of odd holidays and observances. I suggested to her that she should write about “Boxing Day,” that day after Christmas, when people are supposed to “box.” I used to think it was a day devoted to fisticuffs, but that was because I grew up in a family of boys, and trying to be good for too many days before Christmas required a way to release pent-up energy.

I understand that in Great Britain and Canada Boxing Day was devoted to giving boxed gifts to people whom you wouldn’t see on the holiday– postal and garbage workers, delivery people, and the like. I like that idea, because I rarely get myself well-enough organized to give gifts to them ahead of Christmas. The days after Christmas tend to be more leisurely so I honor the idea that Christmas is supposed to be twelve days after all, followed by Epiphany, which lasts until the beginning of Lent. That six weeks or so gives me time to get everything done that most people try to get done before Christmas even starts.

Boxing Day around here is the time when many people box up the kinds of decorations that I have finally gotten put up. At least one of my neighbors keeps Christmas lights on well into January, so I’m not alone in my neighborhood. Other people observe the day by boxing up the gifts that don’t fit or they don’t want and returning them to the store. I don’t remember ever returning anything; most people who give me anything have better taste that I have, so I keep whatever I get. Gift Cards are eating into that Boxing Day custom anyway, turning it into a shopping day for after-Christmas sales, and that suits me as a procrastinator just fine, so long as I can wait for a few days until the sale crowds have passed. As for mailing Christmas cards and greetings, mine have often waited until after Christmas anyway, guaranteeing that I have a chance to check the addresses for many of our old friends who have moved to a new address during the past year. We gave that up– moving, that is– many years ago, so they know where I am anyway.

I have one friend who manufactures boxes, so I won’t criticize them in any way. (He already knows the song about “Little boxes…full of ticky-tacky…etc.”) Boxes are great! Everyone should have several of them for storing things, just not too many, and definitely several for giving things, and as many of those as you can manage. You just can’t box up Christmas. You can’t return the message of this season. You must keep it with you for a year, until it’s up for renewal. If you think it’s out of date or wearing out… well… fisticuffs anyone??? Happy New Year and Merry Christmas, after all!

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