And the transition back to sanity begins . .
It’s amazing to me how quickly I can go from unabashed gluttony in every form to wanting nothing more than to clean and de-junk my house while nibbling on organic fruits and vegetables. Like many of you, I sit here on the day after Christmas surrounded by the debris of our celebrations (wrapping paper, toys, cold wassail, cookie crumbs) focused on putting my life back together. It was wonderful to be sure, but now I’m ready for New Year’s.
Maybe it’s the Japanese in me. Having lived there for a couple of years, I find their New Year’s traditions quite refreshing;two in particular. Since New Year’s is their biggest holiday, December is a busy month for them as well but, in a very different way. They spend a considerable amount of time engaged in Susuharia, or “soot-sweeping”–the Japanese custom of deep cleaning the home in preparation for the New Year. Many of the traditions in Japan are centuries old and have symbolic, religious meaning. The tradition of Susuharia represents rubbing out the stains–both physical and spiritual–of the past year in order to purify the home and spirit for the coming New Year and life.
The other tradition that keeps them busy during December is that of wrapping up all their affairs so as to avoid carrying over any debts or duties beyond New Year’s Eve. The Japanese are very diligent about this, and the tradition likewise carries a deeper meaning of leaving behind old problems and worries to start life afresh. Don’t those sound like two wonderful ways to start the New Year? Remedies for the physical mess and financial debts of a month of gluttony. (And I would also include the effects of overeating too many rich foods!) So as you go into this week of “damage control” between Christmas and New Year’s, you might consider adding these two Japanese traditions to your list.
In the meantime, take a moment for one last laugh as you enjoy this humorous and charming version of “Twas the Night After Christmas”. (Author unknown)
‘Twas the night after Christmas and all through the house
Not a creature was stirring–excepting a mouse.
The stockings were flung in haste over the chair,
For hopes of St. Nicholas were no longer there.
The children were restlessly tossing in bed,
For the pie and the candy were heavy as lead;
While mamma in her kerchief, and I in my gown,
Had just made up our minds that we would not lie down,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my chair to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I went with a dash,
Flung open the shutter, and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow,
Gave the lustre of noon-day to objects below.
When what to my long anxious eyes should appear
But a horse and a sleigh, both old-fashioned and queer;
With a little old driver, so solemn and slow,
I knew at a glance it must be Dr Brough.
I drew in my head, and was turning around,
When upstairs came the Doctor, with scarcely a sound,
He wore a thick overcoat, made long ago,
And the beard on his chin was white with the snow.
He spoke a few words, and went straight to his work;
He felt all the pulses, then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
With a nod of his head to the chimney he goes:–
“A spoonful of oil, ma’am, if you have it handy;
No nuts and no raisins, no pies and no candy.
These tender young stomachs cannot well digest
All the sweets that they get; toys and books are the best.
But I know my advice will not find many friends,
For the custom of Christmas the other way tends.
The fathers and mothers, and Santa Claus, too,
Are exceedingly blind. Well, a good-night to you!”
And I heard him exclaim, as he drove out of sight:
These feastings and candies make Doctors’ bills right!”