Opening Letters

Breaking the Post-Holiday Taboo

it’s OK to talk about Christmas in February; we’ll get through it together ...

Eric Rasmussen, illustrated by Ryan Carpentier |

Hey! How was your Christmas? Mine was good, you know, busy, but it was nice. My wife managed to find a Wii, which I opened on Christmas morning, which was very exciting, until I learned she is some sort of Wii bowling savant, and I NEVER get to win. It was also my son’s first Christmas, but that was a little anticlimactic. He was only nine months at the time and all of the big family gatherings and impeded naps were a little stressful. Plus, although he lacked the ability to understand it himself, he really wanted Spike, this three-foot tall remote controlled dinosaur, but buzz kill mom said a nine-month old doesn’t need a giant dinosaur. Lame.

Sorry – I hope I’m not making you uncomfortable. I know talking about the holidays any more than a few days after the holidays feels weird. I think the emotion is a product of evolution – tens of thousands of years ago, if early humans didn’t have some biological motivation to take down their Christmas decorations, they became very significant fire hazards. Recent archaeological discoveries have shown that more than a few of our ancient ancestors died in wreath-fueled grass-hut fires in early April.

Another possibility is some sort of collective embarrassment over the way in which our culture treats Christmas. Many people beat the ever-loving crap out of the credit cards during December, which they would never sanely do otherwise. Plus, think of all the hours spent decorating the house, sending Christmas cards, baking cookies, wrapping presents, perfecting eggnog recipes until you can’t stand anymore, crying for no reason, and hoping the neighbor’s asinine outdoor light and music extravaganza will trip their breaker permanently and irreparably. If everyone took that time to learn a craft like crocheting or origami, this country would be covered waist-deep in afghans and little paper animals.

But, just to play Santa’s advocate, I am writing this about 10 days before you are reading it, unless you are an extraterrestrial visitor to the burned-out planet once known as Earth, in which case it is closer to 10,000 years. Ignoring the latter scenario, less time has elapsed since New Year’s than the number of days that make up the “holiday season” before Christmas Day. We are still closer to the holidays than you were when you started thinking about the holidays on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. So, allow me to continue.

    The big disappointment of my Christmas was the tree. We used to go with friends to cut our own, but everyone is so busy now that schedules never match up, so I just got one from the parking lot by Starbucks on Hastings. A week later the tree fell on my wife while she tried to water it and broke a bunch of ornaments. Normally, after New Year’s I say some quiet goodbyes to our tree before I reef it on the pile at Carson Park. This year, I gave it the finger as I peeled out of the parking lot.

You know what, this is too weird. I thought writing about Christmas in February would be clever, but now I’m worried that the post holiday taboo is so strong that you’ve stopped reading. I think the real reason why we can’t talk about this is people really get into the holidays, and they miss it. It’s the one time of year people spend some serious time with family, get out to see some live entertainment, from the elementary school kind up to the professional kind, and eat the types of food they actually enjoy. When it’s all over, talking about it just reminds everyone that no, you will not be getting presents anytime soon, nor are there any gingerbread men anywhere in your near future.

This all is great motivation to add some of the cool things about the holidays to the rest of the year. This is not one of those cheesy “keep the spirit of Christmas alive all year” ideas (gag). This is far more hedonistic. If you enjoyed getting out and seeing a holiday show, you can do it again – there are shows (plays, concerts, etc.) going on all the time. Eating big delicious calorific meals does not have to be a purely holiday occasion – tons of local restaurants are dying to sear you a huge steak and fetch you a bottle of wine. You can bake some kick-ass cookies right now. Getting the Wii was fun. It will also be fun to go out right now and buy another game that may give me a chance of beating my wife at something, anything, for once. That would be a perfect dose of non-holiday holiday spirit.