One of my favorite parts of the holidays has always been these dead days between Christmas and New Year's. If you're a student or are fortunate enough to have the time off from work, there's nothing much to do but sleep late and sit around enjoying the spoils of the season.
When I was growing up we would usually stay with my cousins in Michigan from Christmas night through New Year's, all a pleasant, leisurely blur of building snow forts, playing board games, going to movies at Maple Hill Mall, and, one memorable year, obsessively reading my Christmas copy of "Anne of Green Gables" by the big stone fireplace, then wowing my cousin while playing Barbies by using a storyline ripped off from the book.
During one winter break in college, my roommate Susanna and I both got back to school a few days ahead of our other roommates and had a great time acting goofy together (I recall her mimicking a gasping fish, flopping around on our dorm room floor for my amusement) and bumming around the nearly deserted campus. She told me her brother used to call days like these calendar days, those blank squares that fill out the grid of each month, in-between, unaccounted-for days that are so off the radar they don't even get a number.
I find this concept immensely relaxing, as though time can stop, or simply cease to exist, for just a few days, and for once I'm allowed to stop worrying about getting things done. In recent years I've spent most of my holiday calendar days plopped on the couch watching movies like "Love Actually" over and over and eating with abandon the various chocolate truffles and candies people have given us. If I do anything productive, it's something I feel I can't ever find time for on normal days, like completely scrubbing down the toaster oven, or making a personalized storybook for a friend's January birthday.
Re-reading "Anne of Green Gables" sounds pretty good right about now, but not until I'm finished with "Bridget Jones's Diary," a favorite bit of delectable fluff I like to revisit at this time of year. Bridget knows just what I'm talking about, by the way:
"Cannot face thought of going to work ... Desire only to sit on cushion eating chocolate and watching Xmas specials. It seems wrong and unfair that Christmas, with its stressful and unmanageable financial and emotional challenges, should first be forced upon one wholly against one's will, then rudely snatched away just when one is starting to get into it. Was really beginning to enjoy the feeling that normal service was suspended and it was OK to lie in bed as long as you want, put anything you fancy into your mouth, and drink alcohol whenever it should chance to pass your way, even in the mornings. Now suddenly we are all supposed to snap into self-discipline like lean teenage greyhounds."
She doesn't want the calendar days to be over, either.