Why The Post-Christmas Week Is The Year's Most Awkward

There is a certain sense of malaise that surrounds this time of year, the week between Christmas and New Year.

The Christmas tree suddenly looks like a silly thing to have constructed in your living room, and you wonder who in the hell could have possibly eaten all this food occupying valuable beer space in your fridge.

What exactly is the purpose of this week? To make you feel aimless?

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I know I'm supposed to relax, but how does one go from a state of panicked hyper-activity trying to finish all work for the year and trying to organise the house for the hordes of festive kin descending upon it to suddenly having nothing to do?

Before. (Image: Getty)
After. (Image: Getty)

Maybe contributing to the uneasiness is the faint sense of hypocrisy I have at the concept of being an atheist and still constantly saying “Merry Christmas” to everyone.  But no, not really -- I have come to see Christmas as a date in the calendar that everyone DEFINITELY is free on, rather than the celebration of little bubba Jesus (though I do like to fantasise about what gifts the Wise Men would have bought had Christ been born in modern times -- most likely a Bunnings gift card from Coles, because the Myrrh that had been ordered online wouldn’t turn up until the New Year).

I hear there's a good sale on ashlar. (Image: Getty)

No, it’s much more annoying than that. I have forgotten how to relax.

It should be easy to relax, but something prevents me. It is something that is ever-present and is the product of the overloaded lifestyles we lead these days: that faint feeling that there is something else we really should be doing.

Have you had this feeling?

You set aside a day to just relax and ‘do nothing’. You make sure that there isn’t anything that anyone could possibly need you for. You go to the fridge and realise you have no cold beer in there because there are five containers of leftover potato salad on your beer shelf. You plonk yourself on the lounge to watch the cricket and then it hits you. Gnawing away at the back of your skull like that one cousin who actually likes candy canes gnaws through the entire packet: Do I really have time to be sitting here?

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I was so busy. How has that stopped suddenly?

Those hedges aren't going to trim themselves... (Image: Getty)

Shouldn’t I be cleaning the gutters? It’s been a while since I’ve done that. I  should probably mow the lawn before I get a condescending look from Judgey Jim next door whose lawn is always immaculate. Did I answer every single work email before I left for Christmas? I better check again even though I have checked twice already ….

That is why this limbo week between Christmas and New Year makes me uneasy. You are SUPPOSED to relax. It is expected. So for the unrelaxable like me, there is an awkwardness there.

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I don’t fit in. Everyone I can see on Instagram is having a relaxing time, so much so that they needed to show everyone just how effing RELAXED they are!

Who are you people? Why aren’t I one of you? I have a pool, can’t I be relaxed too?

So I sit there and get annoyed that there is still stuff to be done. But this is the moment I have to be able to convince myself: there is no way to ever get everything done. EVER.

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I think the reason I can’t relax is fear.

I’m afraid that if I switch off, I will never, ever switch on again. So I will sit on the lounge and fret, feeling bad about myself because I am supposed to be relaxing until I go back to work and feel comfortable knowing I am in an environment you are supposed to fret in.  Ahhhhhhhhhhhh.