My calendar says the day after Christmas is Boxing Day. When I was young, I thought that meant the day we cleaned up all the boxes from Christmas—and in some cases, that’s probably what it’s become.
The “real” history is a bit murky, although commonly it was a day when servants would receive a box with a gift of money in recognition of their service for the year—a Christmas bonus, if you will. Typically, servants worked on Christmas day. It became a holiday because the servants would then be allowed take the day after Christmas off to spend with their own families—sometimes with their box with money they would also receive leftover food and presents.
In more recent history, it has become another over-the-top shopping day (don’t we have enough stuff?) when people return gifts they didn’t want, use gift cards they received and help the stores clear off their shelves by taking advantage of deep discounts on things the stores couldn’t sell before Christmas. For those of us not afflicted by the shopping gene, but who do have children, it is also the first real day of Winter Break from school. From the last day of school until Christmas Day, there’s enough going on and enough to get ready for that Winter Break doesn’t mean anything. But come Boxing Day, or December 26, everyone is a little restless. The big day is over. We’ve spent the day with family and friends. We’re tired. But we also feel as if we need to DO something.
My daughters know that the day after Christmas, and the week after that, also means time to get out and explore a bit. Not that I create a schedule that is planned down to the minute, but I try to think of three or four things we can do that week to get out of the house and look around. Last year we went to Summersville Lake. The US Army Corps of Engineers had lowered the lake further than normal—below winter pool—to do some maintenance. Dad and I both scuba dive in the lake; it was fun to see the lake without all of that pesky water in the way.
We’ll end up at the WV Culture Center to wander through the history museum; or go to Blenko glass for a tour; or take a trip to the library or who knows what? We always find something to do that doesn’t involve watching television or laying around the house all week playing video games. I try to avoid overtly educational trips, preferring to keep the learning a bit more stealthy. But they do seem to learn a thing or two along the way.
The alternative is to box up everything from Christmas. But that sounds like work to me.