BOXING DAY IS WHERE IT’S AT

We made it. Christmas is over. Mission accomplished. Let’s take a moment to embrace the beauty of Boxing Day.

Boxing Day originated in Great Britain in the mid-19th century and is celebrated in some of the United Kingdom’s colonized nations, including our neighbor to the north, Canada. It started as a day to give servants, tradespeople, and the poor gifts. It’s evolved into a day where people shop, feast, and continue celebrating.

Of course, most of us here in the States are lucky if we get December 26th off. Whether we’re working or not, it can be the perfect time to reflect and recharge.

Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year for many of us. Exciting. Beautiful. Magical.

When you become a parent, however, by default you become the magic maker. Creating all that wonder often falls on the shoulders of one parent; at least that’s what I gather through my informal analysis of my friends on social media.

Santa’s elves are tired. We have worked hard making sure everything was just right all the way through Christmas dinner. The weeks and days leading up have been filled with not just work and the regular everyday stuff, but shopping, wrapping, planning, cooking, cleaning, cards, decorating. Oh my. We have been working triple time to make the holidays special. We understand how privileged we are to be able to do it, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t exhausted.

Then we add in that extra layer of having a child with a disability. We are caring for them on top of everything else. We are buying gifts for their team of teachers, therapists and helpers. School is out. Routines are off. Everyone is over-sugared, over-tired, and over-excited which is overwhelming for everyone involved. Traveling can be hard for many families. Even having guests in our homes or company for dinner can make it hard for a lot of children.

Overnight guests can leave us feeling vulnerable. They get a window into our everyday that leaves us exposed. Challenging bedtime routines. Toileting woes. Food aversions. Elopement. My son with Down syndrome has some challenging behaviors that go largely unnoticed unless you are staying with us. One friend sometimes gets awkward questions about her daughter’s meal routine when she brings her G-tube to holiday gatherings. Some families dread this time of year because it can be a trigger for many reasons.

Christmas is a wonderful time, but it can be a difficult time.

That is what makes Boxing Day so perfect. It’s nothing. It’s a throwaway day that we can call our own. There are no long-standing traditions which means there is nothing to plan. Use it to rejuvenate.  Let the magic come to you. If you want to stay in your pajamas, do it! Do you love shopping the post-holiday sales? Escape. See a movie while you’re out. Tell the kids and company to eat the leftovers while you go out with a friend and nosh on sushi. After all of the excess, doing something selfless can feel great. Visit a nursing home to cheer up a stranger or see if a homeless shelter needs items from your pantry. Go for a run. Call a best friend. Read a book. Do something for you. Let everyone else fend for themselves for a few hours.

Or laugh hysterically at the notion of fitting anything like that in right now and aim for when the kids go back to school in January. Which means maybe you’ll find a second to yourself before spring break. Or in 5 years.

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