Was da day aftah Christmas and all through da house,
I stay runnin' in circles, trying fo' catch dat darn mouse!
No wondah get roaches - look all dis kaukau!
I told you guys, put 'em away when you pau!
But nobody listen, nobody care.
Look, on da tree - whose new underwear?
Who went fill up da stockings with eggnog and beer?
You guys goin' drink 'em; we no waste nothing here.
Junior Boy! No act, I seen what you did.
Come here and unwrap da neighbor kid.
And how much times I gotta tell you guys,
No run around wit' da sparklahs; you goin' poke out your eyes!
So much junks on da floor, I no can keep track.
I goin' tell Santa fo' take 'em all back!
Half da toys stay broke, da rest is lost;
Gunfunnit, you guys know how much dat went cost?!
Time for you make one New Year's resolution
'Cause I had it to here wit' dis household pollution.
You guys lucky, I been in da holiday mood.
But now I goin' crank up da atta-tita-tude.
Shape up or ship out! Help out or hele on.
If you no can be good, you bettah be gone.
And no go cry to your faddah fo' him side wit' you,
Cause if he no watch out, he going get lickin's too!
- Tita's Day Aftah Christmas, 1995
I wrote that not long after composing "Tita's Night Befo' Christmas," a loose translation of Clement Clarke Moore's "A Visit from St. Nicholas" into pidgin. Both were written in my alter ego's voice and are pure fiction, not autobiographical in any way. As an only child, I never experienced household chaos at that level. Like Tita, I found Dec. 26 to be one of my least favorite days of the year, but for entirely different reasons.
After the excitement overload of Christmas morning, the day after seemed so melancholy. I guess it's the natural order of things; once you hit a peak, there's nowhere to go but down. I remember thinking that this is how Cinderella must have felt the morning after the ball, when all her finery had disappeared and she was back on her hands and knees, scrubbing the floor. Not that my parents subjected me to such drudgery; I'm talking about the sudden return to reality after a magnificent, magical night. Come to think of it, we've got it even worse than Cinderella, because she had only one enchanted evening from which to recover. For us, it's an entire season.
We build the anticipation for weeks, making our lists and checking them twice, decking the halls and donning our gay apparel. 'Tis the season to be jolly, and most of us are, as we hustle and bustle toward the big day. It all merrily culminates in a frenzy of gifts and good will and good food.
And then the next day, it's back to normal. Well, except for the new stuff you got. But you don't hear Christmas music any more, and the grownups are suddenly grumpier, and even the tinsel on the tree seems to have faded overnight. Dec. 26 always seemed to be the grayest day of the year.
Fortunately, it's also the day I start counting down to the New Year, which has become even more holy to me than Christmas. I've developed a week of personal rituals and look forward to New Year's Day with anticipation as joyful as my childhood vigils for Santa Claus. And unlike the day after Christmas, Jan. 2 doesn't feel like a letdown. It's not a back to normal day; it's the next day of the New Year.
My dad must have felt the same way. I think that's why, every year, he delayed taking down the Christmas tree. We always hosted a big party on New Year's Eve, and he always said he wanted to leave the tree up for the party. But after New Year's Day, Mom and I would take all the decorations off and the tree would sit bare in our living room for weeks. Rather than nag at my father about the fire hazard, Mom simply kept watering it.
At first I liked having the tree up, even without its decorations, just for the smell. It made Christmas last longer. But the peer pressure of adolescence overcame sentimentality.
"Daddy, my friends think it's weird to have a tree in the house."
"Tell them it's your science project."
Once it stayed up until the end of June. That was the year we had a Fourth of July party and Mom insisted that the tree could not be part of the decor. I still think she threw the party just to get Daddy to take down the tree.
* Kathy Collins is a performance artist, broadcaster and freelance writer whose "Sharing Mana'o" column appears every Wednesday. Her email address is email@example.com.