Written by our Founder and CEO, the Celebrations Pulse letters aim to engage with our community. By welcoming your ideas and sharing your stories, we want to help you strengthen your relationships with the most important people in your life.
Christmas Eve marks a turning point in holiday celebrations. For weeks, we’ve been preparing for the big day by finding gifts, planning the family feasts, and decking the halls (and living rooms and bedrooms and roof…). Today, the anticipation peaks, and the celebrations begin.
At my house with my wife, my three children, and seven grandchildren, the rise in excitement can be tracked by the minute. Once everyone arrives, guests of a certain age start monitoring Santa’s journey from the North Pole while the rest of us enjoy the festive bounties from Marylou’s kitchen.
After church and final preparations for Santa, everyone retires for a long (or not so long) winter’s nap. By 6 a.m., everyone is awake – whether they wanted to be or not – unwrapping Santa’s presents, unpacking stuffed stockings, and tasting the treats baked the night before.
From the unwrapping of gifts and unstuffing of stockings to the feast and the White Elephant gift exchange, the rituals and traditions fill the hours in joy and togetherness. If only we could stop time and enjoy the magic for more than 24 hours. Christmas is over in the blink of an eye.
Or is it?
The week after Christmas
Our ancestors didn’t limit Christmas to just a single day. As the old song goes, there are 12 days of celebration from Christmas Day all the way to the Epiphany, which marked the Magi’s visit to the baby Jesus. Back then, every day held special meaning and celebrations.
These days, the period between Christmas and New Year’s is a relatively quiet time. Many of us take the days off work if our companies don’t shut down completely. Schools are on winter break, leaving the little ones with time to enjoy their gifts.
Last week, I wrote about how the holidays gave us an opportunity to unplug from our devices and connect with other people in person. The analog nature of Christmas doesn’t have to end at midnight on Dec. 25. Why not extend it all the way through New Year’s? (It makes for a great resolution….!)
In fact, many people in our community are already doing so, at least based on some of the holiday rituals you shared over the past couple of weeks. Here’s a sampling.
The giving continues
Many of you wrote about how important it is to give back to those less fortunate, and how the week after Christmas is a great way to extend the magic of the season. We feel honored to be part of such a caring and giving community.
Marianne, a single mother and grandmother to two children, shared how she and her son have gone through some difficult times, but she still gives back each year to people in need.
I have always worked two jobs, which doesn’t bother me. Every year if I have just a little extra, I try to give it to someone who has less than I do. I do not expect anything in return. The feeling of knowing I am sharing and showing someone who is less fortunate than me that they are thought about and cared about, makes me very happy.
No one, not even my son, knows that I do this. Just knowing that I made someone else happy is enough of a gift to me.
Linda shared that she and about 10 members of her church decided to find a local restaurant to say thank you to someone who works hard to make their meals enjoyable.
We bought a card for all of us to sign and purchased a gift box. Each of the couples pitched in $100, and we gave it to Rosa, our server. We now plan to do this every year as a way of giving back to those who have less than we do.
The stories of Marianne, Linda, and many others show how giving is a gift, and it’s not just the recipient who receives joy.
Giving back isn’t the only tradition that can continue after Christmas. This traditionally restful period is also an opportunity to work on our relationships – and on ourselves.
Here are a few ideas from the community for building your relationship with your family for the week after Christmas:
It’s hard to believe that in just 48 hours, Christmas will be “unofficially” over. But I hope these ideas will inspire you to extend the season for another week, along with the opportunity to create new memories and shared moments to enjoy the warmth of family bonds.