I forget what they call it in advertisements. There's a name for it, trying to sell more stuff at deep deep discounts in case somewhere out there is still a credit card unmaxed. Whatever they call it, that unmemorable name, product of marketing departments and ad execs, it doesn't truly describe the week between Christmas and New Years when everyone's just doing it by the numbers, phoning it in, biding time.
That week, when the pageantry of Christmas is fading, and the living room floor is littered with pine needles (if you're one of those throwbacks with a non-polymer tree). Where the poinsettias are wilting and the gingerbread is stale and glitter has migrated from the decorations to everywhere else. That week, when it's not yet time to put away the holiday for another year, not yet time to put out the old.
It's a time of waiting. The end has ended but the beginning hasn't truly begun.
For me, it's usually a time to turn the harsh light on the accomplishments of the year, to feel that I could have seen more, done more, fought more, loved more. I never stack up to my own expectations. It's a time to promise to do better the next year, so that a year from now, I won't look back and see days of nothingness, so many forgotten, forgettable days staring back.
This year it's different. This useless week, formerly a time for self-recrimination, has become a harbor. It's the tail end of 2010, and god knows it was a pretty shitty year, and there's pain waiting for me in 2011. Unspeakable pain. Soul-rending, world changing pain. But right now, right here, the worst is over. Or hasn't yet begun.
I have a few days yet, sheltering in the eye of the storm. The dark, it helps. There's no hiding in the sunlight, but wrapped in a cocoon of snow and cloud the world becomes a little less real. The edges of reality are a little less harsh.
I have this thing I do when Em is traveling. Every night I light a candle and put it in the colored glass lantern that hangs in the living room window. It's a superstition older than words. Here's a light in the big dark world. Come home safe.