There’s something about the days between Christmas and New Years that are my favorite of all. Not much real work happens. Not much is expected of us. It’s a sort of limbo-land between the holy days of Christmas and the start of a new year.
After this, we’re expected to buckle down and do life diligently again. Resolutions, determination, and responsibility. But for now, for most of us, these in-between days are like stolen time. I’m pretty sure that the great Counter of Our Days doesn’t count these forgotten days. These are the freebees.
The truth is, by the end of December, we are all exhausted. The year is old. The days are short. The Counter offer Days is old and tired. Who wouldn’t be, after trying to keep this wayward batch of humans on track? I’m getting old and tired, too, which is exactly why I’m putting myself to bed. Hitting the sack early makes me feel young and safe again, like I’m being tucked in.
All I know is, tonight it’s dark, cold, and a long time until daylight. There’s no place better to be than bed. A few days ago, we celebrated the Winter Solstice, so-- while-- Yay for the light beginning to return--it’s still pretty damn dark and cold. And none of the news on TV is inviting enough to stay up for.
When we were kids, if we were lucky, someone kind ushered us through a soothing bedtime ritual: bath, tooth-brush, story, prayers, pillow fluff, covers tuck, lullaby, good night. Who wouldn’t sleep well after that? Why do we not still need this? I’m pretty sure we still do. We just have to do it ourselves now.
I generally fall into bed after only a cursory skirmish with toothbrush and soap. My bedtime prayer is more like a mutter: “thank GOD,” as I bury face into pillow, hoping for a quick oblivion, while the trials of the day buzz around my ears like mosquitos.
But tonight, I’m reviving the ritual of tucking in. It’s ridiculously early; no one knows I’m hiding here in my bed. But I’ve done all I can for the problems of the day. It occurs to me that some of these problems may just have to sort themselves out, without any help from me. I don’t seem to be making lots of progress anyway.
Honestly, some problems will only be resolved by the eventual demise, or at least memory lossof all concerned, whichever comes first. And some problems may need SEVERAL lifetimes to sort out. This mindset takes off a lot of pressure. After all, who said we were the ones in charge of solving them anyway? I think that’s why God invented Himself, to figure out all the problems, so I’m handing them all off on a silver platter. You’re welcome!
So, no worrying allowed in our bedtime ritual. Only soothing activities. That rules out most TV and social media. For me, a pile of my favorite books. Christmas lights shining outside the window, big pillows, warm blankets. Something nice to sip. I plan to swat away annoying thoughts like the biting bugs they are.
I confess, I have a secret weapon. On my nightstand is a small stash of chocolate toffee, which arrived from the UPS man, with no identification. If no one takes credit for sending this, are there any calories involved? Is this chocolate as free as these in-between days?
In the blackest part of winter, toffee cloaked in dark chocolate with a few sips of red wine is sublime. I’ve stumbled upon at least one kind of Divinity, nestled in the quiet, magical, unassuming days between Christmas and New Years.
If you didn’t remember to claim these days as your own Private Retreat this year, it’s not too late. Even in the midst of real life, you can claim a retreat, without ever leaving home. Just be sure to remember this early next year.
If we’re all lucky enough to be warm, and fed, and dry on this dark night-- we are lucky indeed. Tuck yourself in. Before you close your eyes, thank the Counter of Your Days for another chance tomorrow to figure out what matters most. And tonight, may you have the sweetest of dreams.
Welcome to Streamriffs.com, a place for fellow creek- walkers and nature lovers. Lori Fisher Peelen lives in California with her family.