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What is Boxing Day?

To many of us (read: Americans), Boxing Day is simply that strange day on the calendar for Canadians.

When I think of Boxing Day, it always evokes images of two 1920s-era men with carefully sculpted mustaches and high-wasted pants standing with fists raised in preparation to engage in fisticuffs. (That’s a holiday I would gladly celebrate, by the way.)

Truth be told, most of us don’t know why Boxing Day exists, and even fewer of us have asked ourselves whether or not we should observe the holiday.

So why is Boxing Day celebrated and should we, particularly as Christians, consider adding this day to our already well-stocked holiday calendar?

Boxing Day (Dec. 26) is a day to remember those who go largely unnoticed throughout the year. It is a day for the people in our lives we see daily, yet rarely take the time to thank.

Tracing the origins of Boxing Day can be somewhat difficult. There are many legends, and to what degree any of them hold a kernel of truth is debated. However, what we do know is that Boxing Day has been celebrated for hundreds of years as a means to do something few of us think about doing during the holidays: giving back.

Traditionally on this day, a small box or gift is given as a means of appreciation to those in our lives who make our days run. It is a way to not only express gratitude, but it is a means of acknowledgement. It’s a simple way of saying:

Thank you for even the small things you do and the way you do them.

You matter to me.

The postal worker who brings the mail, the waste management professional who weekly clears away our trash, the smiler at the bank, the barista at the coffee shop who always remembers our order – all of these people give the smallest of joys and encouragements to us each and every day, yet we rarely consider bringing joy and encouragement to them.

After all, that’s what they’re there for, right? They exist to serve us

Boxing Day is a day for us to serve them.

For some, Boxing Day has become a day to provide for the less fortunate out of our over-abundance. It is a way of contributing out of our wealth (however small it may be) to provide for those who have even less.

Especially after Christmas, a season when we amass more food, stuff, and trinkets than we can fit in the family SUV, it would do us well to intentionally turn our focus from our possessions and ourselves to others and their needs.

If we got the new iPhone, could someone else benefit from our current phone? If we got that new pair of shoes, is there someone who would gladly receive our old pair? Instead of three weeks of leftovers, would someone else receive this food as a blessing?

This year, what if we decided to give one item away from our current stock for every new Christmas item we receive?

What if every family member picked someone who blesses our family by simply doing their job and thought of how we could bless them?

Simple questions like these may not change the world, but they may re-orient the way we and our families think about the materialistic aspect of Christmas. It may help us turn our attention toward the needs of others and in some small way, make us both thankful and grateful.

Boxing Day. It seems like a strange holiday, but I believe it is something we should consider.

Let this year be the year we think most of those who are considered least.