In Between Days

The joy of the holiday season doesn’t end with gift giving. Instead, it starts on the day we exchange gifts. The days after that are the true holidays as we relax into being together, days off, and family time.

Yet the gift giving day gets most of our attention. I suppose that’s normal, given that we all enjoy receiving a gift, but an attitude that sees one day as the pinnacle of the holiday causes you to miss out on the joy of all the other days that are intermingled during our holiday season.

These In-Between Days, as I call them, are the ones that often matter the most to us.

These In-Between Days, as I call them, are the ones that often matter the most to us. Here is where we all pile into the TV room and relax with a good show. Here is where we go out for pizza and laugh. Here is where we tinker with our new gifts, and have fun with our new gadgets, often staying in to be together.

That’s a true holiday, to me. The down days when no one is expected to be anywhere but home. The fun days of board games, home-cooked meals, and new outfits. The cozy days of icy weather, a fire inside, and the decorations still up.

Once I saw these days as my focus for my holiday season, I was less concerned with making the gift giving day perfect. We could eat cereal and open presents. We could have leftovers for lunch. We could stay in PJs and relax on the pinnacle day. It was the kick off, not the ending.

For those of us who do most of the gift buying, planning and wrapping for our families, let’s change our view. Let’s claim the gift giving day as the start of our holidays. Let’s make the days after that a new holiday where we ask everyone to stay in and chill out as a family. Let’s treat it as its own holiday and see it as better than the gift giving day.

Once I made this shift, I was able to move toward Christmas with anticipation. I was able to see the whole season as a build up toward our family time. I was able to relax and say, the holiday season isn’t over. It’s just beginning.

For those who experience a sense of a let down on Christmas, re-see it as the beginning of a holiday season filled with delights. Treat it like a kick off party, with lots of hoopla, to a new era of sustained peace, happiness, and joy. Re-see it as a day for new beginnings, not as an ending of the holidays.

This Christmas, I will be celebrating with my family over a series of weeks. Each event can be seen as a build up toward the big day, when it feels like we all release a sigh of relief, and then take our holiday. That sigh, however, will settle into place as an expectation of an arrival of good will, grace, and love.

We all celebrate in different ways.

I am celebrating this year with hopeful anticipation. For the day my kids are home. For the afternoon where we all do nothing together. For the days of cold winter walks and games played before dinner.

I am celebrating this year with hopeful anticipation.

In my family, we start the season with St. Nick, on December 6. Then we celebrate again on December 24 and 25. All great days. But I have my eye on the In-Between Days as the place where the real magic happens. The space, in limbo, where the energy can be anything it wants to be and we don’t force it into a canned celebration that we repeat on auto-pilot.

Here’s my wish for all those who celebrate. Let the days In-Between be whatever they choose to be, and enjoy them. Silence could be the antidote that some need on these days. Soups and comfort food may be the best gifts you give. Bringing your attention to others could be the best present you offer.

If you too are excited for the In-Between Days, mark them on your calendar now. See them as essential days for you too. To be alone. To be quiet. To be at peace. And to be in awe.

If you want to begin your new year planning, use the In-Between Days for some reflection. New goals are best arisen from a period of quiet, and inner, wonk. New goals benefit from an airing out as you determine whether a goal is worthy of your time, your attention, and your hope.

The inner work to prepare for goal season is best done when you have time to allow yourself to become empty. To pour out all your ideas so you can see what you think. If the In-Between Days are not sufficient for that, move all your goals until January 31, and use January not for goal setting, but for belief excavation.

The rhythms of life serve a purpose and I am seeing myself being more present for all the moments of the season, but more so on the In-Between Days, where my attention and hopeful anticipation of those I love thriving will be my greatest gift to all of them.

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