Boxing Day – a Commonwealth of Nations Tradition
Here in the states, December 26 can be a kind of a letdown – the anticlimax of the Christmas celebration when folks pack away the presents, put out extra bags of trash for collection, and head back to work. In the Commonwealth of Nations (current and former UK countries), though, today is Boxing Day, and their holiday celebrations continue.
Boxing Day illustrates that the vital aspect of the season needn’t disappear. The crucial feature of the exchange of gifts isn’t the physical transfer of property. It’s the sharing of appreciation, of gratitude, of concern for another’s wellbeing and wishes for their good fortune.
That attentiveness to other humans begins to dissipate as soon as whatever special occasion – i.e., Christmas – calling attention to it comes to an end. But why?
“Because it just takes too much energy to sustain it,” I hear you say.
Perhaps. I think it’s more a question of attention. And habit. Or maybe the habit of attention.
It’s a Matter of Attention
Our habit is to focus our attention inward, blocking or ignoring the signals continually being sent by others.
It’s true that self-care is a critical part of successful living — appropriate nutrition, exercise, and hygiene; adequate shelter; enough sleep; meditation (and, perhaps, medication); learning. Taking care of those things necessarily requires self-awareness.
Self-care also includes assessing one’s surroundings – knowing where you are in time and space, what’s safe, factoring location and circumstance into the decision of what to do next. It doesn’t take much stretching to gauge the conditions of the humans around you and extend a bit of caring to them.
The Boxing Day tradition evolved as a means to spread holiday joy to those occupied with serving others – like, as servants to the gentry – on Christmas. Sure, the class separation from which it arose is appalling. But we nonetheless can applaud the practical effect of extending celebration and goodwill.
With just a little effort, we can make it last throughout the year.
Happy Boxing Day!