Today is Epiphany, the last day of Christmas, the day commemorating the visit of the Magi. I usually take my tree down on January 2, but this year I was enjoying it so much I left it up. So today's the day it comes down, and winter begins where Christmas left off.
Mum and I went shopping on December 29, which last year I vowed I wouldn't do. It wasn't too bad - not as bad as last year when it wiped out all my Christmas spirit. However, it was pretty depressing. By Boxing Day, it seems, everyone has moved on. I often hear people say, in passing, "I'm SO glad Christmas is over."
Of course, it isn't over until today, January 6, Epiphany.
The problem is, naturally, that Christmas is primarily a commercial holiday. So after 4.30 on December 24, all the spending is over until the New Year's Eve appy/liquor store wave hits.
I realised this year that, as a mother, I don't really feel like it's Christmas - I certainly don't get a Christmas "break" or "holiday", as such - until the evening of December 25th. When everyone stands up from the feast I made, and my husband goes into the kitchen to wash the dishes while I waddle into the living room to fall somnolent on the couch, then I can actually be "off". The kids play with their new toys, or read their books; no one's hungry (no one will be hungry for some time); and all the buying, cooking, baking and decorating is as done as it needs to be.
The last few years it has seemed a little unfair that I am running like a madwoman the entire four weeks leading up to Dinner, but I've changed my perspective: now I think it's perfectly wonderful to have the real Christmas season - all twelve days of it - to do what I like with. I knit, read, do a 1000-piece art puzzle (this year, "The Intercepted Love Letter"), eat leftovers, drink lots of coffee and cider, sleep at odd hours, and gaze in delight at my beautiful tree.
So every year I'll quietly enjoy Christmas, celebrating it all the way from December 25 to January 6, until Business ("Business?!?! Mankind is their Business!!!!") comes up with some way to commercialise Twelfth Night, or starts a "Three Gifts on Epiphany" ad campaign. In the meantime, let's keep lighting our Christmas candles and brewing our New Year Wassail and enjoying the last few chocolates in the box.
Because despite the insane presence of Valentine's paraphernalia in stores, TONIGHT is the last night of Christmas!