Have a Merry Little Whatever You Call It

Have a Merry Little Whatever You Call It
Santa Claus completes basic swim qualification at Camp Pendleton, Calif. in Dec. 2017. (U.S. Marine Corps/Evan Ahlin)

Depending on when you read this, you could be up to your ankles in wrapping paper, ribbons and plastic packaging. Maybe you’re settling into an exhausted sugar crash. Or maybe you’re already a few days into the post-Christmas lull.

Hopefully, you’ve got your Must Do Parent there with you, but if you don’t then hopefully you’ve at least been able to Skype or talk on the phone.

In any case, this is my favorite week of the year.


When December 26th hits we eat leftovers. The kids play with their new toys. The house is a little messy, but no one cares. The parties are over. There’s nowhere to go because everything is closed.

This week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, when the whole country slows down, is the best part of the holidays, in my opinion. Many businesses are closed (and the ones that are open tend to have low expectations). School is out. Christmas is over. The pressure is off.

As far as I know, there isn’t really a name for this week -- in English. Turns out, there is one in Norwegian -- Romjul. It means something like “the room between Christmas and New Year’s,” which seems entirely appropriate. And it’s a week of leisure in Norway, too.

A little bit of searching turned up mentions of the words “Interscotia” and “Winterval” also used to refer to this week, though not very much. My best guess is that Interscotia is probably an old word and, -- gonna go out on a limb here -- probably one that was used in Scotland, or to refer to something Scottish. Whatever the origin, it sounds kind of sleepy and romantic and I like it.

For me, the week after Christmas tends to be filled with sleeping late and wearing jammies ‘til noon. Some years it’s even been a real, grown-ups only, vacation week for my husband and I because it’s the week when he’s most likely to get to go on leave (and to get to stay on leave) and the week when it’s easiest for us to talk relatives into keeping our kids.

Five of the Christmases I’ve had since becoming a mom have been solo parenting ones and, during those years in particular, I’m usually completely exhausted by nightfall on Christmas Day, so a week of rest is welcomed, indeed.

Even when I’m not solo parenting over the holidays, year after year, in a quest for holiday cheer, I wear myself out. There’s all the buying and wrapping of presents, standing in line to see Santa, driving out to the boonies for some awesome light display I heard about, visiting friends and relatives, baking cookies and other stuff, helping my kids decorate gingerbread houses and make crafty presents for their grandparents and dreaming up new places for the Elves (we have two) on the Shelf.

(By the way, this all sounds much more Pinterest-y than it ever turns out. Those five solo parenting Christmases have looked much more like this than anything you’d ever see on a lifestyle blog.)

Year after year, I promise myself that I’ll streamline everything the next year and cut a few things out — and then I never do. So a word like “interscotia” which conjures images of heavy blankets, roaring fires and hot cups of something in the afternoon, is perfect.

I did turn up an even rarer used word for this time, though: Winterval, and I like that one, too, though it doesn’t seem to have caught on at all. Anywhere. There are, literally, no links I can provide here. I read it in a column about football (soccer) from a British sportswriter who, like me, liked the idea of naming this week and suggested “Winterval” as an option.

Winter + Interval = Perfect.

I love New Year’s Eve, whether I go out and celebrate or stay home and watch the ball drop on TV. And I love New Year’s Day, when I usually make a big mess of greens for prosperity, a pot of Hoppin’ John for good luck and a pan of cornbread, for  — cornbread.

And I’m always ready to drop the kids off when school starts back in the new year.

But that Romjul/Interscotia/Winterval week … it’s the most wonderful time of the year.

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