What to do between Christmas and New Year

There’s no use ‘fighting through the hordes’ only to suffer the ignominy of having your card declined in front of other dead-eyed bargain-hunting animals
  • @timkeyperson

Christmas is over. It’s done. The turkey’s empty, the crackers have blown their load, the carol singers have shut their sad little mouths. We’re through. We’re now into the difficult bit. Exhausted, full, and with the fumes of port still emanating from our holes, we now have to survive this awkward period. These few grave days between Christmas and New Year. The perineum.

There’s a certain deflation that hits on the 27th. A rudderlessness. After the euphoria of things like the 25th and the 26th, a gloom has descended. The only interaction we can have with Christmas now is to further consign it to the past. We can bin some more wrapping paper. We can wash up a pot. We can gawp at photos on our iPhones. Father miming Gravity in charades, grandma weeping in front of Strictly, mother punching a neighbour for criticising dinner. We can eat the last of the chocolates on the tree. The last vestiges of Christmas. It is crumbling around us.

As the perineum progresses, so the turkey-based dishes become less and less recognisable as the ‘roasted bird’ that perched on our Christmas table on Wednesday. Here a turkey curry, there a turkey and sprout omelette. Even now my mother is frying up the beak with some chocolate coins for a couple of aunts who still haven’t left. The smell is sweet and nasty. Father continues to clutch on to his Radio Times, circling The Archers and defacing Ant and Dec, but what he’s really clutching at is straws. Are straws, I mean. However you want to say it, it’s a bleak sight.

Of course, there are options in this period. Not having to work for a few more days can be turned into a positive. If you can prise yourself out of the depths of your armchair, there are possibilities. You can, for example, try out your new gloves on a long walk. Waddle past frozen lakes and other gutted humans and end up in some twee village pub for a rural mega-lash. You can find a pantomime and concentrate your pent-up rage into heckling Jet or some other 1990s icon. You can find a quiet corner and knock out some thank-you letters. Other people like to find a project for this empty period. You can build a wall, say. Or organise a rave.

Another popular option at this difficult time is to hit the sales. Polish up the debit card, don the armour and brave the streets. This is not without its problems, of course. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be stony-broke. I’ve just spent the past three weeks generously lavishing gifts on my loved ones – I must have dropped £60 into the venture. I also treated myself to one or two trinkets while Christmas shopping, so the well is dry. There’s no use ‘fighting through the hordes’ only to suffer the ignominy of having your card declined in front of other dead-eyed bargain-hunting animals.

One thought I did have, while devouring a four-inch-thick splice of Yule Log this morning, would be to shift Christmas Day back a few days. Cameron would never have the stones to do it, of course. But if Christmas Day was on the 30th, then we could all wait for the sales on the 26th, buy our loved ones loads of half-price stuff and have a proper Christmas/New Year’s joint blow-out. Cameron’s old school, though, so I expect it will stay where it is.

And so we’re stuck with this bloody gap. I’m sat here, leaning against the tree, my presents all around me, watching Christmas sail sadly into the distance, and squinting onward towards the New Year’s lash, which still seems an eternity away. I’m just surveying my haul again. Fergie’s autobiography. Some mittens.

I might put on the mittens and hold the book for a bit. Anything to kill a bit of time.