Wednesday, December 26, 2012


It's Boxing Day, and the first wave of holiday madness is behind us—the shopping, wrapping, prepping, cooking, eating (and, hopefully, cleaning up) part. Whew! Thank heavens that's over! Take a deep breath, and congratulate yourself for making it this far.

Now: who's ready to jump back into the fray and hit the post-Christmas sales? Not me!

Seriously? Fighting traffic and crowds to elbow strangers out of the way over faux bargains (60% off our normally exorbitant prices!) is NOT the way I want to spend the rest of my holiday. My plan is to avoid the crowds, unplug from the Electronic Overlord (fill in your social media of choice), and do something to replenish the soul and renew the spirit as the old years winds down.

There are 12 Days of Christmas left. Here are 12 alternative ways to enjoy them that don't involve a trip to  the mall.

Play with your Pets It's been a fraught few weeks for the fur-bearing members of your household, what with you running around like a lunatic trying to "do" the holidays. Take some time to cuddle the kitties and romp with the dog.

Read a Book You've earned some down time. What better way to spend it than attacking that TBR pile? Heather McDougal's "Songs for a Machine Age" is  next up for me!

Make Art Indulge in the luxury of time between now and the New Year and make that painting, drawing, assemblage, carving, or collage idea that's been haunting your inner artiste. It doesn't have to be perfect; it doesn't even have to be good. No one will judge it. No one else even has to see it. This is something to do just for yourself.

(Art Boy usually takes the week "off" between Christmas and New Year's Day to do an art experiment that's not for public consumption. One year, he made this nifty chess board, which he and his chess buddy now use for their weekly games.)

Play a Game Grab a chess (or scrabble) buddy for some serious face time. Or rally the troops for a spirited game of Charades, Mad Libs, or Trivia. (Hint: it's even more fun if you don't keep score.)

Get Out of the House Not recommended if the weather outside is frightful. But if you're getting partly sunny skies, scattered showers, and rainbows (like we've had all day here in Santa Cruz), consider slipping out for a pilgrimage to your favorite neighborhood park, hiking trail, or beach. Nature is putting on a show; don't miss it!
Build an Altar Every religion, culture, nationality and/or tribe has some sort of rites and celebration for the midwinter festival and the end of the old year. I've been know to make a Nativity scene of Troll dolls in years past, or recruit one of my vintage Barbies to stand in for Mother Christmas, in long robes with a Yule wreath crown on her head and a cornucopia full of goodies.

This year I built a mini Solstice altar to celebrate the return on the Sun/Son. Forest greenery (clipped from our Christmas tree), dried rose petals, and animal figures  are there to honor the natural world that depends on the cycles of the sun.

Share your Pics Whether you keep your picture archive the old-fashioned way, stashed in photo albums, or store them on your iPhone, now is the time to share them with family and friends. You may not even remember, let alone believe all the stuff you and yours have done in the prelude to Now.

Visit a Friend Now that the rush of holiday deadlines is over, and family obligations have been met, pick a buddy or two you haven't had time for lately and hang out.

Write a Letter If your best friends and/or family members are far-flung, sit yourself down with pen and paper to compose a letter to someone you love. The extra time it takes to organize your thoughts before committing them to ink (no "delete" button here!) will not only help cleanse your own mind, Grasshopper, but bring you closer in spirit to your absent friend, as well.

Try a New Recipe The big holiday feast is over. Now that no one's looking (and they're too stuffed to care, anyway), break out that recipe you clipped out of a newspaper three years ago and give it a whirl!

Last year about this time, Art Boy uncorked his first batch of Limoncello, made from our own Sorrento lemons—which has proven to be not only a smooth after-dinner liqueur and a handy gift for friends, but (as we've just discovered in this season of rampant germs) a delightful cough remedy!

Make a Joyful Noise Play music. Sing songs. The most spirited Yuletide carols don't come out of a speaker.

Pause and Reflect Give thanks for the bounties of the Old Year, forgive the mistakes of others (and yourself), keep your loved ones close, and think about the best way to live the life you want in the world you want in the New Year.

(Top: Boxing Day, 2000. Me and the Cats of Christmas Past, Zoe and Sheena.)

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