IT seems odd that we have come to think of Christmas Day as an indulgent break from normal life. It’s the kind of holiday that you need another holiday to recover from.

While it is true that many of us have a few days off from work over the festive period, there are far too many tasks to complete for it truly to be considered a break. Although I suppose it depends on what your role in the organisational process is.

In another life, I imagine myself as a bachelor uncle.

I fantasise about arriving at my sister’s house at noon and handing out £20 notes to my adoring and grateful nieces and nephews. In my dream I’m wearing extra-stretchy trousers and I see myself settling down on the couch, whisky in hand, as I wait for my dinner to be served.

But on Christmas Day this year, I wasn’t a laid-back uncle. I was a stressed-out mum, rushing around after my seven-year-old, my ex (her dad) and the beeps and boops of various kitchen timers.

I lost count of the number of times I poured a glass of fizz and announced to the (largely uninterested) dad-and-daughter duo that I was having a five-minute break ... only to be rudely interrupted seconds later by an alarm going off or one of them asking me where the batteries, instructions, remote control or food were.

As ever, early morning was my favourite part of the day. Those precious first few minutes when the wee one was fit to burst with excitement and we got to enjoy the fact the big day was finally here.

Like so many other families, ours was a much smaller celebration than we would usually have.

In theory, this should have meant that our Christmas was slower and better suited to calm. In reality, it just meant there were fewer adults around to share the load.

But in the end, it was all worth it, as it always is.

Her dad left at 5pm, with his belly full and his step count impressively low. He’d even managed an afternoon nap on the couch. My daughter sent herself to bed at 6pm, dramatically declaring that she was suffering from a “sugar crash”. And I sat down – properly and finally – for the first time all day.

For kids, Christmas Day is when the magic happens. For adults, Boxing Day is the real treat.

The National: Christmas present

You’ve got all the best bits of Christmas – the food, the drink and the cheer, without any of the chores. It is our day and after all the preparation that goes into our Christmas “rest” – you better believe we’ve earned it.

Like everybody else, we’re trying really hard to avoid that hyper-infectious Omicron. So on Boxing Day we didn’t visit family or friends. Instead, my daughter and I lazed around in the same way I imagine the weary North Pole elves do the day after Christmas.

I chucked some frozen pain au chocolat in the oven and, annoyingly, my daughter was far more impressed with that low-effort breakfast than she was with the roast lamb feast I’d spent four hours preparing the day before.

There were no plans to get dressed, use cutlery or pre-heat the oven. My head was wonderfully clear of timings and trimmings.

When she asked if we could play with the Galaxy Slime Kit she got for Christmas, I said yes immediately, knowing that hours of delicious free time stretched before us and there was now no requirement for the white tablecloth to stay pristine.

When she asked if we could play Cluedo I said yes. Could we have “the best woman’s day EVER?” Yes, of course. We can do it all.

And YES felt so good, given my stock response the day before was so often “ask your dad, wee lamb, I’m too busy”.

And as I mooched about the kitchen in search of mid-morning snacks (not tidying as I went and with absolutely no intention of doing so all day) I spied the bottle of whisky a friend had given me as a gift.

It’s my favourite whisky, and on Christmas Day I had plans to sit down with a wee dram that kept being overtaken by events and all the Important Things To Do.

But that’s the beauty of Boxing Day. I knew that when night came, I’d have nothing more pressing to attend to than settling down with a new book and a glass of the good stuff.

Better still, I’d have the energy to spend time making a perfectly-poured Old Fashioned if I wanted to.

Boxing Day is the gift we get for surviving Christmas.

It offers us the true indulgence of low expectations. There are no rules, fewer rituals and no set timings.

If we’re lucky, we can maybe squeeze in a few more days like that between now and New Year.