In the UK and Australia, the day after Christmas is often called Boxing Day.
I’ve known this since I was a kid, but never really wondered what the origin of the name Boxing Day was.
The most common explanation seems to be that it comes from a British tradition among wealthy families. On the day after Christmas, a box of gifts was given to staff or servants, as a thank you from the family for service throughout the year.
In the US, it’s a bit sad that we don’t have this tradition. Yes, I know that we don’t really have wealthy aristocracy with ranks of servants (!) but I still think there are some folks who labor for us, mostly unseen, ones who deserve a bit of recognition at least once a year. And Boxing Day might be exactly the day to do it.
When I delivered the US mail on a rural route (That’s a route where you deliver from a vehicle to mailboxes on posts alongside the road) our mail patrons often left small gifts in their mail boxes for us. A scratch lottery ticket, or a few Christmas cookies in a ziplocked bag. It was just a small token of thanks, but it was very cheering on days when the roads were slick and the metal mailboxes were really cold to open. Or slightly frozen shut!
I think I’m part of a diminishing population who receives the newspaper each day. There’s a receptacle for it on the same post as my mail box, and yes, this time of year I do leave my delivery person a good tip. He’s had the paper there for me every morning, despite torrential rains, occasional snow and black ice, and even on horribly hot days. I pick up the paper each morning after I’ve fed the poultry, and reading it with my coffee is an important part of my day. The newspaper has a kind of reporting that is fading from our world. Often, yes, I’ve read that headline on my computer screen the night before, but there is often more detail in the newspaper account. It’s also the only place where the local news is covered in depth. (Yes, I know that the News Tribune has a website, but it’s not the same somehow.)
I do like the idea of a special day each year when we stop and at least thank (if not tip!) the people who ‘serve’ us throughout the year. I think it’s something I’ll incorporate into my traditions from now on.