Boxing Day: A holiday we should share

The Wenatchee WorldDecember 26, 2013 

Shoppers make their way through the Eaton Centre as they visit the Boxing Day sales in Toronto Thursday. Boxing Day, observed in Canada, the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth nations on the day after Christmas, is primarily known as a shopping holiday, much like Black Friday in the United States.

CHRIS YOUNG — AP

This is uncivilized. Here I am working on Boxing Day, as the day after Christmas is known in much of the English-speaking world. In dozens of nations this is an official holiday, just as it should be in the United States.

For the good of the country and the benefit of the downtrodden, this should not be a day to toil. To elevate the economy, the middle class, our sacred family bonds, and all things good and true, this should be a holiday.

This plea is likely to fall on deaf ears. Having been forced to pay people not to work on Dec. 25, business is unlikely to go along with a freebie on Dec. 26. As Ebeneezer Scrooge might have said to Bob Cratchit, "A poor excuse for picking a man’s pocket every 25th and 26th of December!" That’s typically shortsighted.

Where Boxing Day is observed, what do people do? Why, they stimulate the economy. They go shopping. ("Boxing Day sales frenzy as shoppers queue," The Independent.) They go to sporting events. They visit family and friends. They kick back at home, eat leftovers and watch a football match on the telly, providing myriad opportunities for astute advertisers to connect with their target audience.

So rich is this stimulating trend that environmentalists bemoan Boxing Day as "unsustainable." When environmentalists condemn something you know it must be good. We got all these gifts cards yesterday. Let us at it.

Judging from the half-empty parking lots at the office buildings I pass, I’d say Boxing Day is already pretty well established. Just try calling the government today. Try signing up for Obamacare.

Why they call this Boxing Day, I know not. There are different stories. They say this is the servants’ day off when they are given a "Christmas box" bonus from the lord of the manor. Or, this is a day of charity and putting coins in the Christmas box at the parish hall. Or, this is a day when the service industry folks (for instance, your newspaper carrier) collect their "Christmas box" bonus from customers. Whatever, this developed into a just holiday, useful for rest and recovery.

Perhaps you might recall this most famous Boxing Day epiphany:

He was early at the office next morning. Oh he was early there. If he could only be there first, and catch Bob Cratchit coming late! That was the thing he had set his heart upon.

And he did it; yes, he did. The clock struck nine. No Bob. A quarter past. No Bob. He was full 18 minutes and a half behind his time. Scrooge sat with his door wide open, that he might see him come into the tank.

His hat was off, before he opened the door; his comforter too. He was on his stool in a jiffy; driving away with his pen, as if he were trying to overtake nine o’clock.

"Hallo," growled Scrooge, in his accustomed voice, as near as he could feign it. "What do you mean by coming here at this time of day?"

"I’m very sorry, sir," said Bob. "I am behind my time."

"You are?" repeated Scrooge. "Yes. I think you are. Step this way, if you please."

"It’s only once a year, sir," pleaded Bob, appearing from the tank. "It shall not be repeated. I was making rather merry yesterday, sir."

"Now, I’ll tell you what, my friend," said Scrooge, "I am not going to stand this sort of thing any longer. And therefore," he continued, leaping from his stool, and giving Bob such a dig in the waistcoat that he staggered back into the tank again; "and therefore I am about to raise your salary."

Bob trembled, and got a little nearer to the ruler. He had a momentary idea of knocking Scrooge down with it, holding him, and calling to the people in the court for help and a strait-waistcoat.

"A merry Christmas, Bob," said Scrooge, with an earnestness that could not be mistaken. "A merrier Christmas, Bob, my good fellow, than I have given you for many a year. I’ll raise your salary, and endeavour to assist your struggling family, and we will discuss your affairs this very afternoon, over a Christmas bowl of smoking bishop, Bob. Make up the fires, and buy another coal-scuttle before you dot another i, Bob Cratchit!"

I was making rather merry myself yesterday. Where’s the coal scuttle?

Tracy Warner is a Wenatchee World columnist. Email him at warner@wenatcheeworld.com

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