Why do we still feel entitled to take a two-week break for Christmas?
I caused a rumpus in our house on Thursday night. Without warning or consulting my family I took down the Christmas tree.
In fairness I had been looking at it since December 14th and something snapped. As far as I was concerned the season to be jolly was over, and why wait for the official 12th day of Christmas before getting rid of the damned thing. It is now first in the queue for the tree recycling depot in our local park.
It's enough, as far as I am concerned, to have "Big" Christmas and new year to deal with without having to contend with "Little" Christmas on January 6 too. And don't get me wrong I am no Scrooge. I love the festive season and all that goes with it ... .the build-up, the reconnecting with friends, the shopping, the eating and drinking, seeing my family, and especially the time off work. I adore the fact that my emails dry up and my phone hardly rings. Ho ho ho.
But every year I find that by January 1 I have had more than enough. I try to ignore "Little" or "Women's" Christmas, (I have enough girls nights out during the year thank you), and I do my best to get life back to normal once New Year's Day is gone.
All the presents have been opened, all the drinking has been done, the Roses' tin is empty and the family squabbles dealt with. I just want to get on with my life.
This year the Christmas and new year break seemed to stretch longer than usual given that both days landed on a Wednesday. Thousands and thousands of people in both the public and private sector combined the official public holidays with a few days leave to conjure up a two-week break. I mean there wasn't much point in turning up for work the Monday before Christmas Eve, right? Sure, nobody would be in the office that day. And who on earth was going to be back at their desks on the Friday? Repeat please for New Year's week.
Try to explain that to our productive American cousins who were at their desks on St Stephen's Day. And our neighbours in the UK, many of who were back to work on December 27. They were able to squeeze what we spread out over 14 days into a day or two. But oh no, not us.
You wonder at the wisdom of so many businesses shutting down for so long during these hard economic times when we are slowly emerging from one of the worst recessions in our economic history. Is it not more important than ever that businesses, workers and indeed politicians put in extra time to help get the country back on its feet?
It makes absolutely no sense that the Dail is not back until Wednesday January 15. Don't give me that nonsense that they are attending Dail committees and doing constituency work.
Of course not everyone went into hibernation over Christmas. The emergency and hospital services were busy with, unfortunately, a higher than usual number of road tragedies. And hail the ESB crews who worked around the clock to restore power to homes disconnected due to the storms.
Shop workers were back hard at it on Stephen's Day, trying to make up for declining turnover and a lower spend than normal in December. The young guy in the Next store in Grafton Street told me the other day he was in the shop at 5am on St Stephen's morning, waiting for the sale to start at 6am. In fact queuing up for the sales was some of the hardest work any of us did over the last fortnight.
And I noticed some professional sportspeople were hard at it too. Jockeys and horse trainers were busy at various racetracks from St Stephen's Day.
So, after the long snooze-in, this weekend marks the end of the marathon Christmas and new year break. No more half-empty buses and DARTs and ghost-like office buildings and streets. Many of you will be dreading the thought of work on Monday morning. Don't worry after the first hour it will seem like you were never away.
But having said all this, now that the holiday is almost over, I hope that your batteries are recharged and you are ready to tackle 2014 with gusto. I hope you all feel the better for the break. And spare a thought for those who would love to have a job to go to, but who can't find work. They would probably give their right arm to be in your place.