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Some Bostonians looked for a hiatus from Christmas

Kayana Szymczak for the Boston Globe

Shelley Gross led yoga class at Arlington Center yesterday.

At the Arlington Center, Christmas began with 90 minutes of downward dog and kneeling cat-cow.

As Barbara Freedman instructed seven women and one man on their sun salutations and chair poses, she praised them for choosing a yoga workout on a morning most people spend in pajamas.

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“You’re going to go home and tell people, she’s the one who killed my butt on Christmas!’’ she told the group.

As she rolled up her yoga mat and headed home, Maureen Dolan said yoga was the perfect start to her Christmas morning: She dislodged some tightness in her neck and shoulders - and loosened up her mood, too.

“The holidays, even though they’re wonderful, they can be stressful,’’ Dolan, who lives about a mile from the Arlington yoga center. “It’s almost like yoga is more necessary at this time of year.’’

Bostonians out and about during Christmas Day made a point of relaxing as best they could, as they attempted to slow the breakneck speed of the holidays - the parties, shopping, decorating, and card-writing.

Inner calm was the theme at St. Catherine of Genoa Church in Somerville, where the Rev. Brian J. McHugh spoke to parishioners in his sermon about achieving peace of mind during the holidays.

As churchgoers left the Mass, he shook hands and wished them peace.

“I wish I could have peace of mind,’’ one man said on his way out, embracing the reverend. “But not every team can be the Bruins!’’

Outside the church, Scott and Rebecca Loose took their 3-year-old daughter, Quinn, up to the nativity scene on the church’s lawn. They pointed at the plastic baby Jesus while the girl sat bundled in her stroller.

“She knows it’s Jesus’ birthday,’’ Rebecca Loose said. “We want her to know it’s not just about Santa.’’

People venturing outside their homes yesterday enjoyed another kind of Christmas miracle: Boston with no traffic. Cars on both sides of the Thomas P. O’Neill Tunnel zipped through without pause. Parking downtown was easier than usual - and drivers were emboldened by the idea that no one would issue a parking ticket on Christmas.

Lack of traffic allowed Alan Greenberg, 62, to park his minivan on the corner of an otherwise busy intersection in Kenmore. He popped open the back of the car to reveal a collection of poinsettias and red roses. He waited with his father in the front seat for customers.

After about two hours, he had made about $50 - just enough to make it worthwhile.

“It’s getting a little nippy. But we’ve been staying in the car, keeping warm. I had some coffee a little while ago,’’ Greenberg said. “There are worse things in this world.’’

And one block away, the Eastern Standard restaurant was bustling with people who, ironically, wanted to escape from hectic family gatherings to enjoy the relative peace of a crowded restaurant.

“We shouldn’t be telling you this, but we like to hide from everyone on Christmas,’’ said Liz Aires, who ate oysters with her husband, Dave, at the restaurant’s bar.

Their plans for the rest of the day consisted primarily of sitting down with a glass of eggnog in the evening.

This is the fourth year in a row the Uxbridge couple has skipped out on family gatherings on Christmas. They love their family, they explained, but at Christmas, they just want to relax.

“Our families give us a hard time about it,’’ Dave Aires said. “I think we’re running out of years when we get to do this.’’

A few tables away, sisters Amy and Molly Hamill ordered the most festive drink on the menu (the Corio Coupe - vodka, apricot, and orange oil) and enjoyed a midafternoon lunch.

“We’re having an elegant, classy, midday single-sister outing!’’ joked Molly, 34, of Jamaica Plain.

An afternoon at a restaurant isn’t the only plan for the sisters, who share the same freckles and reddish-blonde hair: The day started at 7:15 a.m. for frenzied present-opening with Amy’s children, 1 and 3 years old. Next, they attended Christmas morning Mass, then visited another sister’s house.

By 1 p.m., they were ready for a hiatus from the holiday. They looked to Eastern Standard.

“There’s music and a buzz - it’s festive,’’ said Amy, 39, of Brookline. “You don’t think, ‘Oh, it’s Christmas, I should be by some hearth-ey thing.’ ’’

They know: Single-girl cocktails on Christmas is an unconventional choice for the holiday. But for them, the outing might just be the start of the perfect Christmas tradition.

“We love each other, and this is a chance we get to celebrate being sisters and best friends,’’ Amy said. “That’s what the holidays are all about.’’

Martine Powers can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @martinepowers.
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