A Dedication To The Purgatory Between Christmas And New Year’s

I love the last week of the year. There’s a looming atmosphere of relief, almost a wide-spread peace that settles during the week between Christmas and New Years. All the Christmas sales and stress-shopping and holiday-themed small talk is over, a relief that can be felt even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, as it’s dominance permeates everything.

You still have a coming holiday to look forward to, there’s a structure you’re nestled safe inside. A week of interim between the loud declarations of family (or loneliness), and the equally loud reflections on the coming year, possible goals and past disappointment. Now you can play with your toys, possibly enjoy a few extra days off work. You can buy clearance Christmas candy and no longer feel the weight of What You Should Have Done this year, because it’s over — you have this week to just be.

Between the 26th and the 31st I feel allowed to be nameless in a way that escapes the rest of the year, I haven’t been thrown into the abyss of a new calendar year or the chilling monotony of January. People are still hiding away with their families and whether I’m with mine or not — I feel hidden.

There’s a difference in the feeling of an expansive block of unstructured time, and a neat and permissive slice of mental freedom. I don’t feel hidden or relieved in January because it feels gaping.  There’s no large holiday, which means there’s also no arbitrary seasonal structure. In January, I feel winter guilt and force myself to create new goals and hurl myself towards the next milestone. There’s a specifically comforting melancholy in the low after Christmas that returns year after year.

That one week serves as the hidden track on the album of that year, it’s something to listen to at your own leisure. It doesn’t have to be a hit, in fact it’s not supposed to be — it’s mostly a small treat for those listening.