26 December 2013

The Day After

You wake up feeling like you should be anticipating something. But you remember it's too early for that now. Three hundred sixty-four days too early.

You've walked around the house, reaching into the containers of broken leftover cookies every time you pass. Not because you wanted to so much as just because they're there and you're there. Anticipation made them taste a little sweeter—and you feel a little less guilty—before. 

A strange stillness settles over the house the day after. No more flurry of shopping and wrapping. No more bustle and baking in the kitchen. No more kids begging for updates on how close the holiday is. No more Christmas tracks on iTunes or Pandora. The tree looks rather forlorn without any gifts to guard. But still it twinkles bravely until you decide to retire it again.

You suddenly have so little to do…at least, compared to what you've had to do.

The sun has set; but lights adorn fewer houses now, and they seem to twinkle less. The dirt in the snow piled on both sides of the driveway was more noticeable today. There's nothing much invigorating about the cold anymore.

It's over. Again.

And, though it happens like clockwork, every year, you still feel a small ache. Because it came too fast and went too soon. Because there wasn't enough time to breathe deeply and drink in the scents of pine and gingerbread. Or to sit in the dark and truly enjoy the soft glow of the lights. Or to sing as many carols as you realize you wanted to. Or to cherish loved ones. Or to think of higher things.

But…there's time now. A little late perhaps. But still timely. At least, for the important things. Before the day after ends and it's truly back to daily life. 

It's the day after Christmas. A more reverent time after the busyness of the season. A hush following the rush. The lights still shine. The family is still close around. And now, for a few hours, there is some time to think, to enjoy, to introspect.

And that time is delicious.

It seems that this Christmas was the most harried of my life—and, after all the frantic preparation, a little anticlimactic. I rushed too much and enjoyed too little. So I'm happy that the Christmas spirit lingered until now, the day after. With no commitments, I could sit and breathe and enjoy its remnants. And that quiet echo was, this year, more sweet than the blaring festivities.

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