Boxing Day + 1

Yesterday was Boxing Day.  A holiday originating from England back in the Middle Ages.  Unlike the name, this day has nothing to do with watching marathon repeats of "Rocky I-V) or standing in line arguing with the customer service clerk while trying to return less than desirable gifts. As with any urban legend or holiday tradition, this one has a few different definitions:

Some historians say the holiday developed because servants were required to work on Christmas Day, but took the following day off. As servants prepared to leave to visit their families, their employers would present them with gift boxes. Another theory is that the boxes placed in churches where parishioners deposited coins for the poor were opened and the contents distributed on December 26, which is also the Feast of St. Stephen. As time went by, Boxing Day gift giving expanded to include those who had rendered a service during the previous year. This tradition survives today as people give presents to tradesmen, mail carriers, doormen, baristas,etc. 

This got me to thinking--uh oh--about what other boxes we create in our lives. Cardboard, plastic, wrapped, large, small, (do Russian nesting Dolls count?), etc.


Remember the song in the 1960's written by Malvina Reynolds and made popular by Pete Seeger? "Little Boxes". It described our penchant for living in little houses that all start to look the same. The inhabitants and contents all began to match the ticky tacky prototype that stereo-typed us for a generation or two.  And we ride around in motorized boxes to our cubicles and classrooms carrying our boxed lunches.

We're conditioned to want to adapt into certain behaviors and life-styles by which we begin to conform to society's expectations. We are then at risk to lose our own authentic styles and choices.  Bigger, better boxes to squeeze into.

"I am just a poor boy
Though my story's seldom told
I have squandered my resistance
For a pocket full of mumbles such are promises
All lies and jests
Still a man hears what he wants to hear
And disregards the rest"
"The Boxer" - Paul Simon & Art Garfunkel


This year, my version of the Christmas box didn't match up.  Things happened took precedence over getting all the cards mailed or the presents wrapped. I didn't complete all the projects on my list nor much to my chagrin, did I keep my own tradition of viewing   the network airing of "A Charlie Brown Christmas". There were different commitments and responsibilities that intervened and took precedence.  I had become grouchy and impatient because 'my Christmas box' was being tossed around, denting the wrapping paper and dimming its sparkle. Fortunately, under the wire on Christmas Eve, I had my own Scrooge-like moment.

Christmas doesn't come in a box--or a bag--or a card or anything else but inside oneself. Don't let anyone else tell you differently.  Not the retailers, not the advertising media not even the clergy.  Christmas is purely an inside job and it is as magical as each one of us chooses and allows it to be.  Dr. Seuss and Charles Dickens were trying to tell us that all along.

This Christmas was different.  The Candlelight service that I gave on Christmas Eve probably appeared to be the same but was not coming from the same place or mindset from which I wrote it.  Many of the words were the same, the same carols were sung but I was different.  I didn't get to wrap most of my presents till Christmas day itself.  "Charlie Brown" was viewed on Christmas Day this year because Don bought me a copy of the DVD. (Now I can watch it any 'ol time I wanna). I had taken myself out of the Christmas Box that I had inherited and created over the years and was now letting my HolyDay be as wondrous as I wanted.


As I approach the new year, I have this week off from work-- a rare gift indeed.  My intention is to examine what other boxes need to be unwrapped or discarded.   Since I desire to live and work outside the 'proverbial box', I endeavour to stay mindful of who I am and why I am here; so that I remain open at the top for creative inspiration and action. 

And with a slight homage to my favorite urban cowboy, Cole Porter,  I declare...
"Let me wander over yonder till I see the mountains rise;
I want to ride to the ridge where the west commences
Gaze at the moon until I loose my senses
I can't look at hobbles and I can't stand fences
Don't box me in . . ."



















 



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