Sunday, December 26, 2010

Boxing Day ... what does it mean?

I have always been under the illusion that boxing day was in reference to the clean up required after Christmas. The boxes to be emptied, disposed of, general organization and straightening up required to absorb the gifts of Christmas into your home and to empty the stores so they can put out new items. In the last few years Boxing Day in Canada has become a day of shopping. Deals to be had, product to be disposed of by retailers that was not sold before Christmas. My late husband used to call Boxing Day "The I just didn't get enough for Christmas" shopping day. Now it seems that many people just give gift cards and let their loved ones go pick out the item themselves. I was never big on this idea, however, now having a teenager, I definitely see the merit in this plan!

It appears from my research via the world wide web that Boxing Day has nothing to do with boxes left over from gifts or great sales by major retailers or a bank holiday. The origin of the day dates back to the 10th century when the Duke of Bohemia (please remain focused, do not start humming the Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen!) was surveying his land on the day after Christmas  when he saw a poor man struggling to gather wood for his family during a fierce winter storm. The Duke helped him and brought boxes of food and gifts to the man to help him during his time of need. The Duke later became the King of Wenceslas as in the song (you may hum the tune "Good King Wenceslas" now) and the tradition of giving alms to the poor during the day after Christmas began. Leftover food, clothing and money was boxed up and delivered to the poor. 

Good King Wenceslas looked out
On the feast of Stephen
When the snow lay round about
Deep and crisp and even
Brightly shone the moon that night
Though the frost was cruel
When a poor man came in sight
Gath'ring winter fuel

Lyrics and Audio - Good King Wenceslas 

Having attended church just about every Sunday for the first 18 years of my life, having volunteered in hospitals, charitable societies, schools and more, I never knew the true reason for Boxing Day. As I sit here typing and listening to one child beg for food (yes I starve her, the cupboards, freezer and fridge are full but sadly there is nothing to eat) and another sleep, sleep, sleep... I think of those who are alone, cold, depressed, poor and basically just waiting for this season to be over.

Maybe while you are out grabbing those deals today you can buy some extra food and put in the food bank box or buy a cup of coffee for someone who looks lonely, some expression of kindness in addition to the great deals you might get today. I was reminded by an elderly man last week as I complained about poor service at a local grocery store, how demanding the job can be, how we might not realize the pain the cashier is in, how they may have had to leave their family to come to work when they would like to be with their children.... So please practice patience today.

What am I doing this Boxing Day? I am enjoying the excitement my 9 year old has for her gifts. I watch Jess open her art kit and start painting the Disney Princesses, she has a photo to follow and is very intent on getting it right. I am rather impressed so far with her ability to remain focused. On the other hand it is noon and for the 7th time I have told my teen to get up. I know there won't be much for her to do when she does get up so I have let her sleep in a bit and as she slept I Googled "Teenagers and Sleep". I learned the following which may dispel the the "Teens sleep because they are lazy myth". (They do sleep because they are lazy but there are also physiological reasons to keep in mind!)
  1. The average teen requires 9.5 hours of sleep and only gets 7.4 hours per night. Note: 9 and 10 years olds only require 8 hours a night!
  2. The difference is linked to the critical growth hormones and sexual maturation hormones released during slumber. Note: Teen not getting enough sleep = too horny or just not knowing what to do with it?
  3. Sleep deprivation in teens can cause moodiness, depression and car accidents due to weariness. Note: I think I will send my teen to bed at 6pm to decrease the moodiness which is making me depressed!
So, this Boxing Day I let my teen sleep in. My tween pull out the crafts and make a mess and I sit here and type. I must go now to haul in some more wood, pull out the candles and make sure I fill the tub with water in case of a power outage. Perhaps I can grab my husband and go for a walk before we are stranded by the elements. Good news is: I checked the winter storm watch warning which has been canceled! Bad news is: It has been upgraded to a full on blizzard with about a foot or more of snow!

Happy Boxing Day and remember those with less as you wind through the malls!

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