the dead zone

The presents have been sort of put away.  The fridge is full of leftovers, not enough for a whole meal on their own but little bowls of stuff.  Your Christmas guests have departed and even the dogs aren’t trying to eat the last chocolates.  What do you do between Christmas and New Year?


In some countries it is business as usual, 26th December isn’t a public holiday and everybody troops back to work until 1st of January when the hangover cures come out and regretful memories of jaegerbombs and advocaat bang around sore heads.  However, for some, particularly large parts of the UK the holiday starts on the evening of 24th December and stretches out until the alarm goes on 2nd January.

I have to admit I love the long Christmas holiday.  I have my family around me, I can have a lie in, I don’t have to cook much as we have a long list of family traditional leftover meals that would spark a revolution if we didn’t prepare, I have lots of books to read, I can plan for 2014 and the dogs get long and wet walks.

But that time is also a great gift and it is easy to squander it, to look back at that fortnight and wonder what on earth you did. So, why not shift that backside, shake those legs and try something different….

  • Go to a local attraction, you know, the one you never go to because you live next door.  Better still go to one aimed at children and families and let your inner child out playing the treasure hunt or working out why ice is solid, feed the reindeer and make a paper snowflake.
  • Play one in one out with your christmas presents.  Unless you were given a Picasso for Christmas the chances are that you already have several of whatever you were given, but the new ones fit/work/go with your decor.  Throw or donate the grey knickers, the books you have read the scarf you never wear, the shoes that don’t quite fit.  This isn’t a clear out it is a single swap.
  • See if there are any matinee tickets for the local panto.  The evenings will definitely be sold out but trying to feed everyone and be in your seats for 7.30 can be a pain anyway.  Far easier to have an early lunch and work it all off with Widow Twankey (UK readers only I am afraid 🙂 )
  • Get out that book you keep meaning to read but never have the time.  Maybe it’s a heavy duty history book, an esoteric guide to comparative religion, a thumping great biography or a cookery book you have never had the time to try out.  You have the time now.
  • Bake.  Yes I know you were cooking right up until midnight on Christmas Eve.  But this is fun cooking, not mass catering I am talking about.  Bake cookies and decorate them with wild and ridiculous colours.  Have a go at making your own croissants or brioche, or bourbon biscuits, or custard creams….
  • Go to the garden centre and search out the “scratch and dent” corner.  They all have them, the corner where the dead looking plants are.  Most of them aren’t dead just hibernating but you can get fantastic bargains and now you have the time to bring them home and give them a little tlc before planting them out.
  • Paint.  No I do not mean redecorate.  This is most certainly NOT the time for that.  If you have always wanted to have a go at painting, palmistry, papier mache, pottery, philosophy then get out a book from the library, go online and have a go. This isn’t a full on course, this is spend an afternoon doing something simple you always said you would but never have.   Not everything has to begin with P by the way.


Decluttering is not just about getting stuff out of your house, it’s about getting stuff out of your life so that there is room in your life for the stuff that you love and that really matters to you.  If you are fortunate enough to have time off this Christmas, then why not use some of that time to find out exactly what it is that you love and matters to you.  It isn’t always as obvious as you think.


3 thoughts on “the dead zone

  1. LOL – I have never yet managed to get my family to a panto because we’re never in England around this time!! Have you ever tried explaining exactly what a panto is, either in English or a foreign language? Exactly! Sigh. It’s one of my ambitions for them all to see one, even though all the girls are grown up, now…
    re. the thick book: I’m determined to have another go at War and Peace! I have a reputation based on the fact that I read it in a long weekend when I was 12 (!!!) but have never managed to go back to it, so now could be a good time in the year I turn 50!

  2. I read so much more as a teenager too. I went through a Russian phase and did Solzhenitsyn, Dostoyevksy, Tolstoy and a brief diversion into Papillon by Charriere (probably after reading Solzehnitsyn) in a year when I was 13. I think we had more time and less commitments. We didn’t have to stop reading to make supper or empty the washing machine. I was away at boarding school so had hours and hours to read and at home I was I an only child. After my Russian phase I went through a spying phase and devoured The History of the British Secret Service, Spycatcher et al. Today I am gratefu if I get to the end of the crossword!

  3. Good post, Gillie. And that is quite the image to accompany it!!

    People regularly ask me how I get so much done–reading, sewing, gardening, cooking, travel, etc. Its because I have decluttered my life, as you put it, beyond just the objects in my house. I used to watch a lot of television and play hours and hours of computer games. I used to buy stuff just for the thrill of buying. I’ve since found that I get much more enjoyment from the more hands-on, homemade tasks. They sure enrich my life.

    And I am one lucky American in that my holiday break is from Dec. 23rd – Jan. 1st. Most everyone I know is not quite so blessed though–back to work on the 26th.

    I thoroughly enjoyed my time off. I read a lot. I finished a few sewing projects. I cooked for friends and family. There were many board games, some music-making. A jolly good time that involved no shopping.

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