Skip to main content access modal is here

Boxing Day is my salvation

In November 2020 I was asked by my friend and fellow writer, Angela Jeffs, to participate in a writing project under the general theme of ‘December’. I and over thirty other writers were asked to pick a date and then write a journal or diary type piece relating to that date. Mine (26th December) turned out to be a bit more ‘poemy’ than I had intended. I really enjoyed doing it and reproduce it here. The overall project document is being archived by Perth Museum.

Boxing Day is my salvation

What a relief – it’s Boxing Day. What a joke – it’s 2020.
Since I was about seven,
I’ve always looked forward to Boxing Day more than Christmas itself.
Don’t get me wrong.
I have braw Christmases.
But the will to hibernate is strong in me
To sleep late without too much guilt
To get up slowly, savouring a first coffee
With the panache of a sloth
A day to reflect
On a mental year
Dominated by acronyms, portmanteaus, neologisms:
(Plus QIAAP)
Covid-19, NHS, ICU
Brexit, Scexit and Indyref2
Über, Tik Tok and Deliveroo
And genomics
And mindfulness
And woke-ism as an insult

Boxing Day was, apparently, so-called, because it was the day when the toffs would parcel up their leftovers and trot them round to the peasants
On one fortuitous day, the poor got a box of goodies dispensed from on high
To keep them docile for another year.
For some people it’s off to the sales
I don’t understand
The urge to head to high streets
Or to sleep on the pavement
For 40% off
I have better things to do
And in any case, if I was so inclined
And not in post-Christmas penury
I would do it online
Like this year’s Christmas
on Zoom.
Others, head to the hills
on a day free of obligations
I salute them
but do not join them
I have contemplation to do

Boxing day is the real salvation
Christmas day rushes past in a riot
Of Red, Green, Silver and Gold
While Boxing day is a soothing misty blue
Christmas day is technicolour and loud
Boxing Day is monochrome and quiet
But everything is allowed

Christmas Eve used to be spent being thrown out of shops
At 4pm
With that last present unbought
Desperate, mammoth, strategic thinking
How to turn something in the attic into
A suitable present
That will allay guilt
Then hours of wrapping
And prepping sprouts
More hours and hours of wrapping
Which I used to share with Mum
Who is no longer here
Except in my heart
We would have a whisky and sing along with
A carol service
From St Giles or Orkney
And lay out stockings in the wee small hours
Making sure they were equitably filled
To avoid murderous sibling jealousies
Spilling over in the elevated excess of
Christmas excitement

Christmas Day is too full
Of screeching children
Of discarded wrapping paper
Of organising and cooking
Of cooking and organising
And worrying
Are the children sated, for once?
Will all the platters coalesce
at the right time?
Does anyone know where we posed the gravy boat?
Are the friends and neighbours happy?
And no one has been forgotten?
Have I done all the emotional labour that Christmas Day demands?

But on Boxing Day
It is ok to pull up the drawbridge
To be ‘not at home’
To anyone

Boxing Day
The real salvation
When it doesn’t matter
What you do
Or when you get dressed?
And dinner is already cooked
The leftovers often better
Second time round
It's permissible to watch ‘Now Voyager’ again
And cry, again
Or even ‘Ben Hur’
Or should that be Him or Them?
Or to read ‘Shuggie Bain’
Who came in my stocking
By design
And gorge on Champagne truffles
Because there is no one to judge
Or maybe lose myself in the new jigsaw
And get so obsessed and oblivious
That I do a marathon
Of squinting, trying, finding exhilaration
When a piece of lost sky
Resumes its place
And I’ll go for that walk tomorrow
But even I
A fan of isolation
And living in my own hermitage
Feel a little bit alone
Because it is 2020
God knows what it’s like for sociable people?

Its blawin a hoolie ootside
My writing desk affords me a view
To hills
Or it would
If the weather wasn’t so dreich today
that the hills fade into gradations of grey
Or would that be better ‘gray’
Storm Bella has arrived and she is not very belle
Dirty bitch is going to flood and howl
Though it’s comforting to hear gales while I am ensconced in central heating
But with inadequate insulation
The house, not me,
I am wearing
All my Christmas jumpers
Not a pretty sight
While I sit
Scrieving, scrunched up against the cauld
Am I regretting agreeing to write to order on my treasured Boxing Day?
No. Writing is always yearned for
Writing is the work
I will do anytime
Writing is reading, jigsaws, films and food combined
Writing is exactly what I want to do on Boxing Day
I’m supremely happy.

Back to top