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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Day after the Day after Boxing Day

(A detail from Father Christmas by Raymond Briggs, born
1934, English illustrator, writer, and creator of graphic
novels and animated films, including the popular movie
The Snowman)

Today is actually one additional day after the day after the day after Boxing Day described in the poem below. This strangely named public holiday is observed on December 26 in such Commonwealth countries as England, Wales, and Canada. According to records of the early decades of the nineteenth century, on that day people put extra money in little boxes to give out to tradesmen and servants as end-of-the-year gifts.

Now-a-days, there are the usual lame jokes about fisticuffs breaking out all over the countryside. Most people, however, unaware of the old tradition, believe one of two theories about the source of the name: the household habit of discarding the Christmas wrappings and boxes or the widespread phenomenon of crowds rushing to the stores to return unwanted Christmas gifts they haven’t even taken out of their boxes.


On the day after the day after Boxing Day
Santa wakes up, eventually,
puts away his big red suit and wellies,
lets Rudolph and the gang out into the meadow
then shaves his head and beard.
He puts on his new new cool sunglasses,
baggy blue Bermuda shorts (he’s sick of red),
yellow stripy T-shirt that doesn’t quite cover his belly
and lets his toes breathe in flip-flops.

Packing a bucket and spade,
fifteen tubes of Factor Twenty suncream
and seventeen romantic novels,
he fills his Walkman with the latest sounds,
is glad to use a proper suitcase instead of the old sack
and heads off into the Mediterranean sunrise
enjoying the comforts of a Boeing 747
(although he passes on the free drinks).

Six months later,
relaxed, red and a little more than stubbly,
he looks at his watch, adjusts his wide-brimmed sunhat,
mops the sweat from his brow and strokes his chin,
wondering why holidays always seem to go so quickly.

~ Paul Cookson, born 1961, English poet

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