By BENEDICT ESPOSITO, Special to the Bulletin | Published December 12, 2022
Waking up on Dec. 26 is not fun. Like any day after a major celebration, it often can seem like a letdown, knowing the party is over or maybe from having a few too many spirited beverages. Post-holiday blues are a real thing that many have, and it’s not just because it’s time to go back to work.
On Christmas Eve and Day, churches of all denominations are packed. Christmas Day is a day of the year where far more stores and attractions are closed than open. Far more people are happy than sad. It is for many the only day of the year they can count on being off from work. For many, it’s the one day of the year you want to get out of bed.
Christmas is a happy time. We enjoy the warm feeling we get from being with those we care about and seeing their reactions to gifts, and being with them. We dress up in warm clothing and are surrounded by loving people, which only makes us warmer.
We as human beings want that warmth because it makes our heart full and that makes us feel good. We crave that love. It is human nature. Who doesn’t want to feel love? Christmas is a time of merriment and affection, with festivities and gift-giving all around. To quote Andy Williams, “it’s the most wonderful time of the year” because we know we will be surrounded by, to quote Al Green, “love and happiness.”
Sure, Christmas can be a stressful time—trying to buy gifts for all, not having enough money, packed schedules, dealing with frustrated shoppers and co-workers, spoiled kids, getting everything in order. For others it can be quite lonely.
So why then do we go through all that trouble? We all have that one friend who puts out Christmas decorations way too early, and stores now put items out right after Labor Day. Clearly, there is a strong desire for that holiday cheer earlier than December and not just for commercial reasons.
We’re looking for one word: love. And where does the ultimate feeling of love come about? When a baby is born.
The birth of a child is cause for a celebration in any circumstance. Many of the most-watched episodes of TV programs are when a main character gives birth.
In this case, it’s the birth of all births, the most influential human in all of humanity. That is cause for a global celebration.
We don’t celebrate the birthday of Abraham, Moses, Isaiah or David. However, we know the birthday of the Messiah who they all spoke about and are still celebrating 2,000 years later. The ultimate birthday has evolved into a global celebration and taken on a life of its own. We don’t hear about “Halloween miracles” or “July 4 miracles” (minus of course July 4, 1776). But we’ve all heard of “Christmas miracles.”
In the first year of World War I in 1914, there was an unofficial truce on Christmas Eve throughout many trenches where soldiers from both sides took a brief reprieve to cross no-man’s land and celebrate with the same soldiers who were shooting at them the day before and sadly would again at day’s end.
Humans have shown we can be cheerful and like to be merry. We can put aside our differences. If so many people want it and look forward to it, why can’t we sustain that joyfulness year-round?
Because like any birthday celebration, it can’t last all year, nor is it supposed to. What makes a birthday unique is you are celebrating making it to another year. Not celebrating while you are on your way to that step.
This is why I’m so down on Dec. 26: The once-a-year global cheerfulness is over. So, what to do?
Well first, Catholics have 12 days of Christmas, not just one! Enjoy and be appreciative of Christmas when it does arrive. Truly relish every hour of it, including the church being specially decorated.
What about after the Magi have departed?
I will not make the promise of “I’m going to make sure every day is like Christmas” or the classic “live every day like it’s your last.” If either one of those were legitimately followed, many would go broke and possibly do some things that land them on the news, and not necessarily for good reasons. It’s not sustainable.
What can be done is to revel in and appreciate every moment you get together with friends or family throughout the year. Even just going out to eat with a friend or two. Those times are special and we do not know how long it could be until we can get together with them again, something COVID particularly taught us.
Laugh with your loved ones. Tell them how much you like being with them. Enjoy being happy with those you care about, even if it’s only for an hour. Christmas cheer may only come once a year, but being happy with other people can be year-round if you simply pray and give thanks for all you have.
That will make the post-holiday blues just a bit more tolerable and give you something to look forward to sooner.