Christmas is over, and I am sitting in the doldrums of the week separating it from New Year’s celebrations.
My living room is still scattered with cardboard boxes, torn paper and packaging. Unwrapped presents have been pushed haphazardly under the now obsolete Christmas tree. The contents of stockings are spilled across the fireplace. This is not a Norman Rockwell moment.
The week after Christmas provides an interesting mix of letdown, nostalgia and hope. The excitement of Christmas Day has passed. The past year dwindles its final hours away in reflection. All the while, the prospect of new beginnings looms brightly on the horizon. It is a week I both embrace and eschew.
I embrace it because it is the one time of year when the whole world slows down enough to make sense. The insanity of Christmas shopping and preparations are done. Schools are closed, and many folks take the week off. There are fewer cars on the road, less rushing about. It is the world unfolding at the pace I want to live. For one glorious week I can keep up.
I embrace it because in spite of the tawdry distractions and commercialization, the holidays are still about friends and family. I revel in board games and movies, roaring fireplaces and decadent food. I like that for a week the rules for calories and counting change. It is my favorite time to cook.
I eschew it because I am forced to look both forward and back. I reflect on a past diminishing in the rear-view mirror with no u-turns permitted. I look forward with sincere and best intentions for a better me, a better tomorrow. Twenty years ago, my vision to the future was clear. In middle age, my ultimate destination is less so. Cleaning the window while steering the car has proven challenging.
Regardless of my feelings at one particular moment, I know the week will unfold as it should. It will unfold with family, friends and football. Waves of nostalgia will wash in and out. Regrets will stay with me like the wind, gentle breezes of guilt and remorse. Hope will rise and fall and rise again and, as the new year is chimed in, hope will reign.
I suppose that is the best I can ask for or ever really want. How blessed I have been and remain so to begin each year of my life with hope.