My facebook status for today says that I’m having a “sorry day.” People keep asking me, “Sorry for what?” And when I mentioned it to my sister, I got a similar uncomprehending reply. So I’ve decided to use this post to explain the concept of the Sorry Day and to provide a little history as well.
As far as I know, it was my mother-in-law who coined the term “Sorry Day,” although it’s quite possible she got it from somebody else. The term is only meaningful if you understand that the word “sorry” has multiple definitions. I took a minute to look it up on answers.com and found three definitions:
- Feeling or expressing sympathy, pity, or regret: I’m sorry I’m late
- Worthless or inferior; paltry: a sorry excuse
- Causing sorrow, grief, or misfortune; grievous: a sorry development
It’s the second definition that’s pertinent here. I’m having a worthless day, an inferior day, a day of paltry results. I’m not doing anything important, I’m not working or cleaning or shopping or making any sort of worthwhile contribution to anything. I’m just hanging out, chillin’, goofing off, wasting time.
The day after Christmas is the perfect time to have a Sorry Day with no excuses or compunctions. The weeks leading up to Christmas have been extremely busy, sometimes stressful, sometimes frantic. I went to five Christmas parties this year, and for each one I had to bring food and sometimes a gift. I bought presents for fifteen people (I know – many of you have to buy for twice that number), wrapped them, signed and addressed about 100 Christmas cards, decorated my house, cooked for Christmas dinner, sang in three Christmas programs, carolled, attended church on Christmas Eve (and every Sunday of course), picked up two relatives from the airport, and did all this while working full time. I DESERVE a day off! 🙂
And that’s what a Sorry Day is – it’s a day off. Not just from work, but from the work of life. I have done a little straightening-up and I unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher. But other than that, I’m avoiding work. I’m going to watch movies, play on the computer, play with my Christmas presents, and maybe even take a nap. I’m definitely NOT hitting the stores for the after-Christmas sales.
When my children were young and my in-laws were still alive, we would plan week-long visits with the in-laws in Houston. My mother-in-law, Marguerite, would anticipate these visits and plan out fun activities for her grandchildren. One day it might be going to the zoo, another day we could visit NASA or Galveston, another might be spent shopping. But every trip would include a Sorry Day – a day to just sit around and do nothing, enjoy each other’s company, and relax. Sometimes the Sorry Day would be the day the kids enjoyed the most. There was less pressure, more face time with the grandparents, more chance for serendipity.
I started the practice of having a Sorry Day after Christmas many years ago. The kids wanted to stay home and play with their new toys, or visit their neighborhood friends to see what they got for Christmas. I just wanted to rest and recover. In those days (the pre-divorce, young children days), we always had Christmas dinner at our house, so the pressure of hosting Christmas dinner and gift exchange was pretty intense (we usually had about 12-14 people). The next day, when everyone had gone home or gone back to work, I just needed time to recuperate from the fun but exhausting celebration. Here are some after-Christmas Sorry Day memories that stand out to me:
The year the children got bikes for Christmas, I spent most of the next day sitting in the front yard, watching Ryan ride up and down the street. He had taught himself to ride on his friend’s bike, so he didn’t need any lessons. Erin, on the other hand, had never tried before, so I took turns with her dad trying to get her started on her cute pink bicycle. That year, the day after Christmas was warm and sunny, and we spent the day outside in T-shirts and shorts.
One year Ryan got a Lego set that could be used to build a Space Shuttle model. We put up a card table in the living room, and he and I sat together and built the shuttle following the directions that came with the kit. It took most of the afternoon, but I loved the chance to spend some quality one-on-one time with my son. There were other years where we got jigsaw puzzles for Christmas, and the kids and I would spend the day around the table working on the puzzle and just being together – with no agenda, no pressure, no homework, no time constraints.
In the last couple of years, I’ve gotten accustomed to living alone. When the kids come home for Christmas, I’m delighted. I love having them around. But on the day after Christmas, they celebrate the holiday with their dad, who lives nearby. I think my mother and sister worry about me – they think I’ll be lonely and sad without my children around. But I look forward to it. I can slob around the house and do whatever I want – watch TV or movies, read, listen to music, play Solitaire or Ricochet – whatever.
Now here’s the ironic twist. While I was writing the last paragraph, the paragraph about not doing anything today, my cell phone rang. It was my friend Diana, who lives in Houston and lost her husband last summer to cancer. She’s visiting her future in-laws in Granbury, and wants to know if it’s OK for her to come visit me here and spend the night. Of course it is – I love her and would do anything for her. So she’s on her way, and my Sorry Day just turned into a busy day. I’ve got to put up the presents, finish cleaning the kitchen, change the sheets on Erin’s bed (which has now become the guest bed) and get the house ready for company. I’ll plan something for dinner, and get information on fun things to do – movie? live music? Christmas lights? In other words, goodbye Sorry Day! I won’t miss you at all.