The end of the Christmas Twilight Zone


We are finally escaping the annual twilight zone between Christmas and New Year – those unnerving and unsettling 10 days when we are not quite sure where we are, what day it is, and what exactly we are meant to be doing.

Are we to celebrate, relax, work or to make full and productive use of all of this gratuitous free-time? It’s not a proper holiday because its cold outside and we aren’t going anywhere nice. But nor do we seem to have the energy or motivation to catch up on all of those things at home which we don’t normally have time to do. So, we might be tempted to do a bit of work here and there – the odd email or phone call. And if your twilight zone is anything like mine, it will have been punctuated by random visits to and from family and friends, in confusing combinations and locations.

And so the days become a little disorganised, confused and slightly disheveled. Neither one thing nor the other and a bit of everything all at the same time. Barely distinguishable one from the other. So, please don’t ask me who we saw when, where, and what I gave or received for Christmas. It is all a bit of a blurr.

What I do know is that we have spent an inordinate amount of time preparing to eat, eating and clearing up after having eaten. We have shifted furniture between rooms and rearranged the contents of the fridge to accommodate the left-over pavlova and wensleydale with cranberry cheese, innumerable times. And we have carted reams of wrapping paper and dozens of empty bottles to the recycle bins.  Between all of this half-life of activity, we sat down  to watch incomplete portions of The Sound of Music, Zulu and The Eagle has Landed, intermingled with repeats of Friends on a continuous loop.

Meanwhile, we stay up later and later, get up later and later and are continuously surprised by how late it is. The hours of daylight seem to shrink at just the time they are meant to get longer. We feel slightly drowsy and below-par – probably due to the continuous intake of sausage rolls, mince pies, nuts and Heroes, washed down by hot punch and “just one more” beer. In compensation, I went for a run one morning, just to get some oxygen in my lungs and purpose in my legs.

To try to maintain sanity, I have been regularly examining my phone for some evidence of normality, or just to check what day of the week it is. A bit like being in a dream and trying to wake up, But not much was going on “out there” either. At least on Friday some people were in the office and sending me emails to think about. I even replied to a few. The real world is out there somewhere.

If this a foretaste of retirement, it can wait. I am missing the comfort or meetings and deadlines – the reassuring structure of a normal week.

So it was a great relief today to wake up this morning and realise it was finally Saturday. At last a solid and recognisable day. We all understand Saturdays and weekends. It feels like I have been tottering across slippy stepping stones since before Christmas – and have finally reached the solid shore of dry land. Hello Saturday, my old friend. Now I know where I am. I am grounded. Tomorrow will be Sunday, then we can have a proper week, Monday to Friday. With real things to do, deadlines, appointments and everything.

At last, some structure and routine, something like a timetable – and a dash of pressure. Something to focus on. Something to motivate me.

Or that is how I felt first thing this morning. But then, it turned out to be far from a typical Saturday. Normally we would do some shopping, some gardening, maybe a few jobs around the house, tidy up a little, listen to the football scores. We didn’t do any of those – we had yet another random day like the last 10.

We woke late, mosied around and had breakfast in various combinations with our house guests. We enjoyed a lovely visit, lunch and chat with an old friend from university and his wife. We watched a film about an alcoholic pilot who saves a plane from crashing. We stir-fried some pork, ate in and cleaned up afterwards. We taxied daughters, sons and daughters-in-law to various locations. And now I am watching endless repeats of “would I lie to you?”, whilst blogging this blog.  So it turned out to be a very enjoyable, relaxing, chilled day, with all of our children in the house, plus our daughter-in-law, our two friends and excellent good food and entertainment.

So now I am wishing it wasn’t a Saturday; that we had this much quality time every day. So for another day, at least, the diary and work and normal chores can wait. Rather than straining to bring normality into the Christmas-new year twilight zone, maybe I should just enjoy it whilst I can and go with the flow. And if possible, pocket a bit of that twilight zone feeling for the rest of the year.

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