The Christmas downshift begins today and won’t end until January 2nd, or 13 days from now. I can feel it in the Manhattan air. The conversation is dying down a tad. I don’t mind and in fact always enjoy the time just before Christmas, particularly in the stores and during walks around the city in the late afternoon and especially at night. But the post-Christmas blahs, a seven-day period that will begin on Thursday, 12.26, and end on Thursday, 1.2.14, are hell. Okay, they’re not “hell” but I know it always feels wonderful when they’re over. Thank God I have the amusements and distractions of New York to fiddle with. Can you imagine sinking into the post-Christmas quicksand in, say, Wilkes-Barre or Birmingham or upper New Hampshire? Do you want to feel really zoned and blah-ed out and generally trapped in your life? See Nebraska. It’s like a cherry on top of an eternally depressing ice-cream sundae. Except during those passages when Mark Orton’s score takes over. Then everything is okay.