The day after Christmas can be eerily quiet. Since I was raised Jewish, the question of what happens in a Christmas-celebrating household arises. In the homes where alcohol’s permitted, I assume there’s much drinking…perhaps under the Christmas tree. There’s the game, How Far Under The Christmas Tree Can You Get. Kids are excluded from this game as they aren’t allowed to consume alcohol (maybe in some households kids do drink…yikes!). Once under the tree, someone measures the distance. There’s an art to getting out from underneath the Christmas tree. Can it be done without ruining the tree? Do any baubles fall off? In a drunken stupor, has tinsel accidentally been torn off?
In the sober homes, I see adults and children praying obsessively. Maybe the men remember their drunken days…the days when they considered themselves “heathens”. They go out in the freezing cold, stand behind an evergreen, a much larger version of their Christmas tree (undecorated, of course), shivering as they light up a cigar. Every now and then, they check to see if their mothers are peering through the windows, “Oh, where did Johnny go? It’s his turn to lead the prayer!”
On December 26th, these two groups, the alcoholics and sober Christmas celebrators, meet up for a tug-of-war. They literally take a thick rope, one that mid-game could rip skin off if careless, and tug. They do it over a raging fire. “Doesn’t matter who wins,” yells Jesus. “I love you all.” The tuggers can’t hear. They’re too busy trying to win. Eventually one group, the alcoholics, of course (not because they’re alcoholics, ethically speaking, but because the blood-alcohol content is so high. They think only of sleeping or grabbing another bottle of rum), fall near the raging fire. No flesh burned! The sober Christmas celebrators jump up, scream so loud that even Jesus has to place His hands over His ears.
Their breath recovered, the two groups visit a warm eggnog push-cart, run by some Egyptian fellow. They care little for his name. “What a nice man,” they all agree. “So what if he’s Muslim. He’s handsome. He’s always laughing. It’s clear he cares about everyone.” Empty cups, the two groups hug, part ways, head into their proper households. And so maybe, just maybe, this is why it’s always so quiet the day after Christmas.