The day after Christmas…are you tired, worn out, a little bummed out after all the hype? Hopefully you’re not taking back gifts at the hectic mall you were just in days earlier! After all, it is, in the original Christian celebration, only the second day of Christmas (you know, from the Twelve Days of Christmas, made memorable by the song of the same name?) Yet, instead of continuing to celebrate Christmas for 12 days starting yesterday, the day Christ was born, most of us have already celebrated for weeks instead of observing the more solemn waiting period of Advent, and are done with it all, perhaps even glad it’s over. I’m guilty myself…of getting caught up in the preparation and decoration and shopping and wrapping and feeling like it’s all “over.” And yet…I want Christmas to continue somehow, even though the fun chaos of family and friends gathering is over, the gifts have been unwrapped, and the big day is past. So…how can we keep “celebrating” Christmas until Jan. 6? I plan to keep the tree up (and watered and hopefully alive), to try to be “present” to those around me (even though the one left in my house now, my husband, is sick with a bad cold), and most importantly, to try to grow closer to Jesus in my heart by reading daily scriptures and observing the various feast days along the way. Today, for example, is the feast of St. Stephen—an apostle who showed generosity to the needy and the first martyr of the early church, witnessing to Christ by the ultimate gift of his own life. Dec. 27 is the feast of St. John the Evangelist, the author of one of the Gospels and Revelation. Dec 28 is the feast of the Holy Innocents, the children murdered by King Herod, who plotted to kill the Christ child. And the Christmas season culminates on Jan 6 with the Epiphany, when the wise men followed the star and paid homage to the baby Jesus. The “real” 12 days of Christmas are important because they give us a way of reflecting on what the Incarnation – God made man – means in our lives. Lord, help us to keep Christmas in our hearts as long as we can – to make it last and so remember how you were born like one of us to show us the way to be like You, so that the world will know a little more kindness, peace, mercy and love.