Boxing Day Is Better Than Christmas Day, Here’s Why
Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas Day. As much as I’ll try and play it cool, I start bristling with excitement in September and by the time the first Christmas trees pop up, my tummy feels like it’s filled with tinsel.
I admittedly love the build-up best of all – in happier times, at least. The aimless wandering around Christmas markets with a mulled wine, the mid-December ‘Friendsmas’, the carols sung in city squares and the shop windows suddenly illuminated – beautified – with fairy lights.
The big day itself always feels like a sudden explosion of all this quiet, escalating mystery; a spectacular, fizzy cork pop of a day stuffed to the brim with camera-ready moments.
Of course, I more or less adore every second of this manic, gloriously indulgent day. I love the relief of finally fishing out the presents that I’ve been itching to hand over for weeks, and the simple, familiar pleasure of groaning over cracker jokes.
I love my mum’s faithful Delia Smith turkey recipe, and I love pulling up outside relatives’ houses, arms filled with yet more presents, while laughter rings out from the kitchen inside.
Roy Wood of Wizzard once sang that he wished ‘it could be Christmas every day’, and in many ways I do respect his passion, energy and apparantly impressive capacity for sprouts.
Indeed, I can totally understand wanting to spend every day in a flurry of excitement and sparkle; drinking and eating to excess and playing tipsy games with a ferocity you forgot you had. And yet, wouldn’t it also be nice to have Boxing Day every day?
The parts I love best about Christmas Day are also the parts that make it fairly unsuitable for everyday use.
It is a twinkly, precious bauble of a day that is held to impossibly high standards. A magical 24 hours where everything is either delicious or glittering. It’s the by-the-book conclusion to the yearly film of your life, and if it falls short of perfection then the disapointment can feel crushing.
Sometimes I’ve felt guilty for feeling sad – or indeed feeling anything less than Ghost of Christmas Present-style joyous – on Christmas Day. I hate letting special, Christmassy moments slip through my fingers. I never want to waste a second of it, knowing I won’t get another shot for another year.
It’s perhaps therefore unsurprising that so many adults fall out of love with Christmas Day, and grow cynical of the cinematic expectations of the day.
The cold fact of the matter is that so many of us will wake up on Christmas morning without the sort of lifestyle that beamed out to us from heart-warming department store ads, and this is perhaps particularly true this year.
We might not have yet found someone to love us back, Love Actually style. We might not have gotten a big enough bonus to buy our kids sacks filled with new toys. Our tree might look a little wonky and too sparse to hold any photogenic cheer.
That’s why I would suggest that Boxing Day is actually a far jollier day than you might expect, and one where the pressure on the happiness-metre is dialled down a good few notches.
In fact, you might even argue, when examining your own feelings this festive season, that Boxing Day is ultimately preferable to the big day itself.
First of all, Boxing Day shares many of the fun elements of Christmas Day. The decorations are still up and, if you’re lucky, you’ll have a few lovely, thoughtful gifts to enjoy and appreciate properly now the chaos has eased up a bit.
If you’ve managed to pull off a successful present exchange, with smiles and genuine thank-yous all round, then this is your time to really bask. A reward for all the hours you’ve spent panic-walking through the shopping centre, desperately trying to recall your sister’s shoe size without texting her.
If you’re sharing Christmas celebrations with family and loved ones, then you’ll likely still be spending plenty of time together; reflecting back on the day before and how nicely everything went, in retrospect.
You’ll also hopefully be still filled with plenty of seasonal merriment, and keen to whack out Articulate or Linkee for a sleepier – yet now more practised – game of festive wits. You will still want to pull crackers, but probably from the comfort of your sofa while browsing the online sales.
Obviously, the telly schedule is still brilliant on Boxing Day, and I honestly cannot think of many greater simple pleasures than cosying up in my new Christmas pyjamas in front of a quality BBC adaptation, a plate of fancy(ish) cheese and biscuits on my lap.
Oh, and speaking of food, there truly is no greater day in the annual calendar for myself and my fellow fridge-raiders than the Boxing Day picky feast. While Christmas Day is rather a formal day, food-wise – anything goes on Boxing Day. And there’s usually not too much strenuous cooking to labour through.
If done right, this all-day graze should kick off with a chocolate bauble for brunch, followed by a sneaky bit of bacon from the turkey or a couple of pigs in blankets. Possibly a handful of posh crisps or Twiglets left over from the Christmas Eve buffet.
Then, of course, there’s the turkey, cranberry and stuffing sandwiches. Absolutely the best sandwich of the year and not one that is easily replicated by high street outlets. Treasure this sandwich. Especially if it’s got a decent layer of bread sauce on it and a dollop of real gravy.
Let’s not forget that, for many people, Boxing Day does hold special significance. Some of us will have arrangements with other relatives on this day, or maybe with a partner who has spent the day elsewhere. Maybe you’ve been counting down the hours to this blissful, easy little snowglobe of a day together.
For those in the NHS who’ve worked a Christmas Day shift, this could well be the time when they return home to their family at last, tired and grateful for a lull and a nice glass of Bailey’s.
I’ll be honest, I used to feel a little deflated on Boxing Day, as though the colourful wrapping had suddenly been ripped off the month a little too quickly, so to speak.
But then I came to appreciate Boxing Day for what it was: Christmas Day’s lazier, less glamorous – but by no means less lovely – sister. A gluttonous, cheerful day where you aren’t expected to put on a show or swap your slippers for your stiff new boots.
Here’s wishing you and your loved ones a very happy Boxing Day.
If you’re experiencing distressing thoughts and feelings, the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) is there to support you. They’re open from 5pm–midnight, 365 days a year. Their national number is 0800 58 58 58 and they also have a webchat service if you’re not comfortable talking on the phone.