Kage Baker thoroughly approved of Boxing Day.
It is what the English call the day after Christmas. Americans re-discovered this holiday (shortly after they made Christmas legal again) but not its reason, and have been making silly jokes about it ever since. Mostly, they involve putting Christmas ornaments back in boxes, returning unwanted Christmas presents, in their boxes; and – recently – posting yet more pictures of cats all over the Internet. Cats. In. Boxes.
Anyway, if metaphor is what one is after in a holiday, Boxing Day is the best. As Kage remarked, “You can find boxes anywhere, if you just pay a little attention. Make them up if you have to. It worked well for Schrodinger.” That was the ultimate box, she felt: one that might have a dead cat in it. She loved Schrodinger and his semi-demi-hemi cat.
None of which has anything to do with the (probably) charitable origins of the Day. It’s probably when rich English people gave presents to their B.C.D etc. lists of obligations: servants. Tenant farmers. The deserving poor. (The undeserving poor were in prisons, work houses, or lying dead in cold rooms where the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come gesticulated dramatically at them for the benefit of Ebenezer Scrooge.)
However, we live in modern times, and while those of us who think we know what the day is about can celebrate old traditions – in fact, no one is quite sure. It can be anything you like. Kage loved it because it’s a day of almost-universal rest; a day to recover, enjoy your presents and such of your family as has survived the Festive Day, and eat fancy leftovers. She herself favoured frying up some pudding for breakfast (it doesn’t only happen in Terry Pratchett novels – Kage did it long before we read about Pixie Albert. She got it from a nursery rhyme.), playing her newest video game, and eating warmed over beef and Yorkshire pudding for supper.
I also enjoy lazing about, though I usually subsist on the contents of my Christmas stocking. This year, sleeping has been a popular option. I declared my bed to be an Official Box, and I have spent most of my day in it. During this sybaritic exercise, I dreamed an extraordinarily detailed story about zombies. It even came complete with casting suggestions written on green lined legal pad paper – some people say you can’t read in dreams, but I can; I suspect I will be reading 10 minutes after I am dead … anyway, I’ve written it down in notes, and we shall see what happens.
I don’t care for most zombie stories, but this one had a bit of wit. My tastes tend to run more toward Zombieland, and the new television shows I, Zombie and Z Nation. I cannot abide serious, pretentious efforts like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies or The Walking Dead … Jane Austin does not need embellishment, and soap operas are not my thing. Twinkies and disco and irony, oh my yes!
Besides, committing the whole ridiculous dream-thing to NOTES, and hanging a title and a few plot devices on it does sometimes result in a story. It did for Kage, many times. It’s where “Pareidolia” came from, now I think about it.
And it makes me feel as if I have done something useful today. Maybe even something that may turn out to be for Kage, or you Dear Readers. Somewhere under all the confusion about Boxing Day is a tradition of generosity and giving, after all. So, really, that’s a pretty good thing to have done.
Well, here in the UK nowadays, Boxing Day is Black Friday in reverse. This is when folks swarm into shops to return gifts and snap up bargains. This is when the winter sales ‘really’ begin.
Insanity. Those of us who are sane, or hate shopping, or have no peasants to give token gifts to, tend to stay home and do nothing on Boxing Day. Wonderful. Pressure is off, guys. Until next week, that is, when the Scots gear up for THEIR big winter holiday …Hogmanay and New Year. And the Day After That, which is also a public holiday. And The Day After That as well, this year, what with it all happening on a weekend and Monday being the public holiday.
So it ain’t over yet. Not by a long shot.
Well, I can never object to the elongation of a holiday – more room to party, says I. Americans have a lot of intentionally engineered long weekends, and they’ve been the redemption of many a weary office worker. However, I’m with you – turning honest holidays into shopping trips is not my idea of rest and recreation. I hate shopping at normal times; Black Fridays or whatever excuse the merchants use are even worse. When I find I have extra time for a real holiday, I just stay home and break out more beer and the extra crackers. In the days when I did Renaissance Faires, it was always a transcendent delight to spend an extra day in our enchanted village … and Dickens becomes even more Extreme Christmas then!
If you’ve not yet seen Cockneys vs Zombies, do. It may be the most irreverent zombie flick ever produced.