It's the day after Christmas, Dec. 26. Here in the states it's another day, albeit a shopping day full of post-holiday sales.
We've been gone from Budapest now for seven years, but I always think back to Dec. 26 over there, where it is also a holiday. Commonly called Boxing Day, it is a day off in its own right in several countries.
I remember how great it was to wake up the morning after Christmas and have that freedom of knowing I didn't have to be anywhere or do anything.
The long holiday was pleasant, but required some planning.
With most shops closing at noon on Christmas Eve, Hungary basically had two-and-a-half days with little or no commerce.
With the exception of McDonald's, of course, there was not much open for those last minute dashes-or tram rides in our case-to the store.
Our first Christmas in Hungary was especially interesting because Christmas was on a Friday. That meant stores shut up by noon or earlier on Thursday, closed for Christmas on Friday, Boxing Day on Saturday and most were shuttered for Sunday, as well.
Since we carried everything by hand from the store via mass transit and on foot, we made several trips to make sure our small fridge was stocked full for a nearly four-day closure at our local market.
It was more of a work-out than I anticipated, lugging our goods-plus a few extras for Christmas- for the extra-long holiday, especially when we were accustomed to shopping every day at the local market.
It turned out to be a memorable Christmas because we spent Christmas Day with some of our Hungarian friends and attending church on Sunday.
But thanks to the long break it was also special because we had a break from day-to-day activities. No trips to the store, no errands to run, just enjoying our new country and settling into the flat we had moved into just a few weeks earlier.
Christmas is always enjoyable and, since moving back to the states, we've appreciated even more the opportunity to visit with family in person or have extended talks on the phone instead of a brief hi and bye in Hungary because of expensive long distance fees overseas.
This past Christmas kind of felt like a Hungarian Boxing Day holiday, in that we were able to take four days off. Four days of enjoying each other's company and visits here and there with family.
So here's to a Merry Boxing Day and Happy New Year!