I was driving around our neighborhood a few days before Christmas. The kids and I were admiring the many different ways that folks decorated their houses: lights, blow-up cartoon figures on the front lawn, and many of (apparently this year's hot product) the new-fangled spotlights that put faux holly leaves on your house. Weird and cool at the same time.
Then, it hit us- all of it would go away in the days after Christmas. Sadly, things don't last forever. The decorations would come down. The songs on the radio would end. The Salvation Army bell would stop ringing at the grocery store.
Christmas is like that. You get pumped up and the anticipation almost kills you. The day happens and everything is great. And then you wake up the next day and everything is so "regular" and ordinary and normal. The party is over. It's easy to feel blue as a result.
So I'm thinking that you have two options when it comes to Christmas:
1. You can celebrate the day over and over again. This would be difficult. You can't afford to buy gifts for every day of the year. The wrapping paper bill alone would put you over the edge. Imagine a ham or turkey day after day! You get the point- this option isn't tenable.
2. You can tap into an ancient practice of what is called the "octave" of Christmas. Let's look at this option as much more realistic and actually far more satisfying than if you were to celebrate December 25 over and over again.
An octave is something that is celebrated for eight days. In the Christian tradition, the octave comes after Christmas and people of faith, theoretically at least, celebrate Christmas for eight days. I admit that I've known very little about this for almost my entire life. And then I did some digging for research.
From what we know, octaves began somewhere in the 4th century. Circumcisions were typically performed on the 8th day after birth. Baptisms have been associated with octagonal "fonts" or spaces in which the water is placed with the baby's head is dipped in water.
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There's something special about eights apparently...
Knowing the history, how could you celebrate Christmas for eight consecutive days? Again, this is not about gift-giving for eight days.
Octave celebration is something that is much more spiritual than commercial. It can also boost your productivity because you're acting intentionally rather than reactively. Here are some easy ways that you can celebrate Christmas for eight consecutive days:
1. Take time off from work. Resist the urge to get back into the fray of work.
2. Do not do any gift returns for a week. Avoid the crowds. It's ok to wait.
3. Watch a Christmas movie after Christmas. If nothing is on tv, rent something.
4. Begin a gratitude journal. Online, in a paper notebook, whatever.
5. Sleep in.
6. Do something special with friends. Go out to eat. See a movie. Be with those you love.
7. Go somewhere memorable. Into the city. Into the country. Somewhere you can make a memory.
8. Read. Anything for pleasure.
9. Get outside in nature. Think of that place that you absolutely love and go there.
10. Do not take down your Christmas decorations. Ignore everyone else in your neighborhood. Be countercultural by keeping your decorations up.
For bonus points, you can also make an investment in your spiritual life in the days after Christmas. Many churches have extra services and they would love to see you. If there is a very holy person that you've been wanting to talk with, why not give him/her a call just to talk? If you can't do that, you could probably send an email.
So that's it! You don't need to be glum in the days after Christmas. Sure, the holiday is over but that doesn't mean that your celebration needs to end. By participating in an octave-approach to Christmas, you'll become more contemplative, happier and less stressed.