Not a holiday that we normally celebrate here in the United States but I am going to embrace it this year. Although what meaning I lay on it might be very different than what has historically been the case...
Historically, Boxing Day came from a time when the rich used to box up gifts to give to the poor. Boxing Day was traditionally a day off for servants, and the day when they received a special Christmas box from their masters. The servants would also go home on Boxing Day to give Christmas boxes to their families.
Well now that we have that out of the way, I am going to completely bastardize it for my own purposes...
I am embarrassed to admit that I didn’t really ever take the time to know what the hell Boxing Day was until just now. I always thought it was a clean up after day for people to get their house in order after the mayhem of Christmas. I don’t know about how your family celebrates, but I have always needed a clean up day after the celebration: internally and externally.
Boxing Day for me has always been a time when I cleaned up the physical environs and set things back in order. Literally boxing up all the paper, bows, ribbons, boxes, tags and the like and taking them to the trash or put back in their proper place to await their call to action next year.
Emotionally Boxing Day was a time to take all the expectations I brought to the holiday season and put those away for another year. What the day would look like, would my family like their gifts, would I like mine? Would I have contact from all those that I love or would I be prevented from talking to some of the people I love the most? This year there was a lot of boxing up I think for all of us. All of us having these feelings and desires that things be other than what they are. Letting go of Christmases past and embracing to the best of our ability our present conditions and our attendant let down.
For me, I was ok with a still and quiet Christmas. I think in large part because I know that if I do something different, I get something different. And I don’t know about any of you, but I needed something different this year.
For me Boxing Day is about taking in the year previous and looking at it, examining it and letting the lessons of the year settle in. Boxing them up so to speak to crystalize into some sort of rough outline for the year just passed.
Giving myself the gift of release from all that I wanted this year but did not get while at the same time looking at all that I have been given. In my mind, I see myself today writing down on small bits of paper, all the things this year brought and boxing them up to be closed out and up on December 31st. This idea brings me immense comfort. I love the idea that I can review my year and them box it up neatly and put it away somewhere so that next year, I could take it down and sort of re-live the year or not...
So I am starting a new tradition today, Bowing Day Erin style...It isn’t complicated and I have no idea what it might bring to my future. Just that I have this intense desire to review the year, not in morbid reflection, but more of an inventory of all the hardship and blessings that I have experienced this year.
I would love it someone, anyone would join me. Here is what I am thinking...
Get a box. (Mine will be pretty)
Write down all day all the things you got to experience this year. All the blessings. All the pain. All the love. All the sad. Write them down.
Spend the next five days of 2020, writing down all that you can remember.
On December 31st, at the end of the day, wrap the box in the pretty paper and place it somewhere to be re-opened next year. It can be tucked away or left out in the open. It could be the first present you open next year on Christmas! Mine will be shelved in my kitchen...a constant reminder of the pace of life and all that happens to us and for us. A promise on a shelf that shows me that I persevered and 2020 was dealt with, managed, handled, survived and lived.
The old me would have wanted to box up all that stuff to shut it out, remove it from my psyche. But that is not what it is for me today. Boxing Day is a day to remember the whole of this life. The good, the bad, the ugly, the painful, the exquisite, the moments sublime, the hardships, the precious moments that give life the subtext and undercurrent of a life well lived.
Boxing Day is an acknowledgement, just like in olden times, when the Master would give to the servant, we serve that role for ourselves, wrapping up a pretty package of a year in our life. We are both the giver and the receiver. We are presented with the day off to unwrap the year just lived and then box it up to make room for the new year that is coming soon.
I like the idea of cleaning out the old, to make way for the new...I had a therapist once who said this to me:
"Erin, do you accept the premise that there is a finite amount of space in your life for things, people, events?"
“Yes, I can see that there is only so much room for people, places and things...”
"Well do you see that if you fill up your life with shitty people, shitty activities, shitty events, that there is no room for anything good to land?"
“Well, I do now!”
And that was a new beginning for me. It was a start at me being able to let go of all that I think I wanted, but could acknowledge that though I wanted it desperately, it was not good for me. Did not serve me and for a couple things, would have likely killed me.
That is this Boxing Day for me...packing up the year just past to allow for room for new people, places and things to come into my life in the new year while appreciating all that will leave for teaching me all it could. A literal duking it out with the year, allowing the punches and upper cuts to heal, while remember my footwork will always deliver me to that which my thinking cannot.
Allowing a freshness of life to be breathed into my old ideas about myself, about you, about the pandemic, the state of the world. To spend the day gathering, boxing up and then letting go. Of all that stuff I have not been able to leave behind. I can just review it and then walk on into my new year with a lot of space for something new to happen, someone new to walk in, some new places to visit if even only in my own mind.
And I am pretty sure that everyone will agree that 2020 is the year to begin Boxing Day...I don’t know anyone who doesn’t want this year to be a wrap...so let’s get started. Boxing Day 2020, let's get this party started!