Today is Boxing Day.
Okay, maybe not over here. Boxing Day, December 26, is traditionally a British holiday, although it's also now celebrated in countries such as Canada and Australia. Boxing Day in those places now has the same sort of connotation that our own Black Friday does: The day after a major holiday in which people hit the malls and markets in droves, seeking out big sales.
But Boxing Day used to mean something entirely different. And although my own British heritage has been watered down by seven generations of Texans before me marrying Germans, Cherokees, Mexicans, Scots and whatever-else-have-you, my family always celebrated Boxing Day when I was a kid.
What Boxing Day meant to our family was leaving presents for the people who came to our house every day or every week to ensure things were running smoothly. That usually just meant the garbage collectors in the morning or the postman in the afternoon.
In later years it also extended to the crew of guys who did the lawn or anyone else who'd been helping with the house at the time. Contractors? Painters? Anyone in these kinds of service industries was considered and given a present.
According to Wikipedia, this is all in keeping with the grand yet ill-defined holiday tradition of Boxing Day:
The tradition has long included giving money and other gifts to those who were needy and in service positions. The European tradition has been dated to the Middle Ages, but the exact origin is unknown and there are some claims that it goes back to the late Roman/early Christian era; metal boxes placed outside churches were used to collect special offerings tied to the Feast of Saint Stephen.
The presents each year were simple and straightforward: bottles of Wild Turkey (my dad's favorite tipple) for each of the garbage collectors and something similar for the postman, depending on the year and who was delivering the mail at that time. And while this tradition isn't popular over here at all -- hell, it's largely ignored in its own country of origin now -- I want to rally to bring back Boxing Day.
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Why not leave a kind thank-you note or simple gift for the people who keep your household running on a daily or weekly basis? If you live in a highrise, consider the security guards. If you live in an apartment complex, consider the maintenance men. It doesn't matter where you live, just consider the people around you for this one day a year and thank them for their help.
The stores are open. There's no excuse. Go buy a bottle of Wild Turkey (or make a tin of fudge) for those folks and start a Boxing Day tradition of your own.