You know, when I was a young lad growing up in the Great Lakes area, Christmas season was a magical time. During that era, weather was quite different than it has been in recent years; that is, presently snow is rarely seen on Christmas and outdoor skating is totally an activity of the past because 1) we have a litigious society that prevents it, our denizens being so risk averse and sue happy; and 2) there is hardly ever a hard freeze, which some attribute to global warming. Others suggest the planet was just coming out of a mini ice age during my childhood. Whatever, beginning in early December we sledded all winter long and skated on rivers, ponds, and even streets. Side streets were seldom cleared of snow, which was packed down hard enough by traffic to allow skating. We’d also grab on to the bumper of passing cars and take free rides. Can you imagine kids doing that today? |
Dad would pick up a tree at a downtown lot for a couple bucks, which typically wasn’t exactly to his liking so he’d saw and drill and relocate limbs until it fit his specifications. It wasn’t unusual for him to have several wires attached from the tree to the walls to keep it from toppling. The skirt for the bottom of the tree was a white, fluffy substance called angel hair, also installed by (only!) Dad. Turned out the stuff was made from spun glass and potentially very dangerous. We were warned not to touch it. Once the lights were on, Christmas songs would issue from a huge console radio and my brothers and I would place the ornaments, some of which we made in elementary school. As a final piece-de-resistance we flung tinsel from top to bottom. It was a fantastic time in life! But that was long ago before I got the dreaded…
Did you ever have one of those times when you know you were supposed to feel differently, but just couldn’t get into the swing of things? Well, that’s my 2015 Christmas season. Everything seems out of whack. Instead of a joyous red and green world—actually should be blue and white if you’re religious (Hanukkah for Jews and Advent for Christians)—mine is a dull gray punctuated by a WTF attitude. Oh, I’m listening to the same songs I’ve heard all my life, watching the same timeless movies, and getting out familiar decorations; but something is missing.
The season started out just fine; that is, we spent Thanksgiving in Palm Springs at my brother’s place where, among other things, we celebrated his marriage to long-time girlfriend, Francine. After that we visited our children in Irvine and Huntington Beach and morphed into a suitable “holiday mood”. The drive back to Arizona was festive with nonstop Christmas music courtesy of satellite radio.
Then it happened. Next morning my wife, Kay, was in excruciating pain and couldn’t move from her bed. She happens to be an “all out” decorator while I’m a minimalist, but still easily get into the mood. Anyway the holiday season isn’t complete unless I watch (and pitch in when asked) her in a flurry of activity converting our home. With her being laid up, I did my best to put up and decorate a tree and put things about trying to convey the Christmas spirit. It wasn’t the same. My efforts fell flat. I expect my dissatisfaction had something to do with an unwanted negative attitude that creeped into my normally cheerful self.
Falling dominos… Kay experiences back pain… It’s sciatica, and makes it impossible for her to walk or be pain free except certain times when drugged… She can’t get treatment until mid-January and that took a pulling strings… She can’t do her normal Christmas decorating… We have enough for 4300 square feet (our former home), but now live in the desert in a spanking new 1900 square feet abode that suits us very well. Our first Christmas here should be delightful—but it’s not. And now I just discovered I have a tire with a leak on the eve of driving to California. C’mon! Who am I, freaking Job?
Meanwhile, I’ve shunned holiday parties within our neighborhood because they’re pointless without Kay, and she doesn’t want to attend in a wheelchair—can’t say I blame her. My greasy black funk of a mood is also accompanied by the realization that I have not accomplished in life what I thought I would (nor will I at this late stage). Time has run out. Several business projects have hit the skids, and I have yet to locate a new literary agent. Of course, I’ve only looked superficially—my bad. I like to write, but hate the activity that comes after that. Since my last published book in 2010, I’ve written three others, put them on flash sticks, and searched for something else to write. Even that has hit a snag over the last month. My habit is to rise each morning and write about whatever is on my mind—much of which is rubbish—but I get enough “keepers” to be encouraging. Lately, when I wake my mind is a complete blank. What’s more I don’t care so I run the streets, swim laps, practice yoga, and anything else I can think of to keep busy. Ho-hum.
We plan to return to Orange County for Christmas with our kids and their families, and spend New Year’s Eve and Day in Palm Springs with brother Jim and his wife, Francine. Hopefully, exposure to family will bring a festive flavor to the end of 2015. I’ll let you know how that works out. Meanwhile, cheers to all--and sorry for the juvenile whining. (I'll get better--promise.)
By Gene Myers, the latest victim of Mr. Grinch. That's right; I'm a three-decker sour kraut and toadstool sandwich covered with arsenic sauce.
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Christmas season, Thanksgiving, tree, angel hair, decorating, out of whack, sciatica, greasy black funk, family,