There’s one thing about holidays that can be a problem – the day after.
The best example is New Year’s Eve. The tradition in this country is to party long and late, which often includes partaking in large quantities of alcoholic beverages. That makes New Year’s Day a kind of living zombie day for many Americans. New Year’s Day is the actually holiday, but in this case it is needed for recovery time so people can stumble back to work the day after.
Thanksgiving can be a problem in a different way. It is the one day a year that everyone feels OK about eating as much food as possible. That makes the next day a potential food coma for many Americans, except for those who have to work the next day or who get up at 5 a.m. to be first in line at their favorite store. At least there’s a turkey sandwich for lunch.
Christmas is different, at least for me. I know the day after Christmas can be a letdown because after all that activity, suddenly there’s nothing. Maybe your family goes back home and suddenly there you are with a mountain of used wrapping paper and not much else.
But that wasn’t my experience growing up. We always did the gift thing on Christmas Eve. The reason: on Christmas Day we had to pile in the car and we all would go to visit relatives in Cincinnati.
The visit to Cincinnati was an all-day affair. We would stop and see aunts who had lived in the same apartment since the Revolution, an aunt who lived in a big, old mansion, and then end up with all our cousins, other relatives and anyone who wandered in off the street for a big celebration. This filled our familial obligation, but for a little boy it pretty much was pure torture.
We had opened presents on Christmas Eve and maybe I had just enough time to drag out all the Marx Civil War soldiers or Corgi Batmobiles when it was time to go to bed. Then it was up the next morning to go to Cincinnati all day.
Then we would drive home on the newly-constructed interstate in our old Ford and invariably I would fall asleep along the way. That meant I went every Christmas Day without getting to play with any new toys! Being a selfish and fairly greedy little guy, this was hard to take. I mean, my relatives are all nice people but compared to an Aurora slot car race track – well, it didn’t seem like much of a choice to me back then.
That drive home seemed to take forever. I would drop off somewhere around Middletown and when we got home my Dad or one of my brothers would carry me inside and dump me in bed. Another Christmas down the drain.
Ah, but the day after! I would be up at the crack of dawn because I knew we had nowhere to go, nothing to do except break out the new Cadaco All-Star Baseball Game and play with it all day long. Or the Foto-Electric Football Game. Or my new basketball. That might require shoveling the snow off the basketball court in the back yard, but when you have a new basketball you have to try it out.
Now that I am older, the day after Christmas doesn’t hold the same attraction. Some years, it becomes another work day. When you’re an adult, the wheels of commerce do not pause so you can play a few extra hands of Mille Bournes.
But other years we get to visit my daughter and her family. That means time with the grandchildren. And that means getting to watch them drag out all their new loot the day after Christmas.
They can get pretty wrapped up in the new toys (and in the boxes the toys come in). It’s pretty easy for them to forget their grandparents are around.
But that doesn’t bother me, at least not for one day. They’ll get tired of the new stuff soon enough and will want to climb on my lap and have me read them a book. I have a little more patience now than I did when I was seven.
Besides, my grandkids have a lot of cool toys. You’re never too old to play with new toys the day after Christmas.
David Lindeman is a Troy resident and former editor at the Troy Daily News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.