Thanksgiving in the rearview, with all the leftovers either consumed or thrown out to the dogs and/or opportunistic raccoons, we slide, inexorably, into December.
As all you literature majors can probably tell from us sticking that “inexorably” in there, The Observer is not really a fan of December, even though it contains both Junior’s birthday and Christmas. The Observer, long a sad sack and Depeche Mode listener of some renown, is one of those folks for whom the twinkling lights and tinsel of the season always manage to be a bummer, the lights too bright and the gold too brassy, the sugarplums a little too sweet and the kiddies a bit too loud in their excitement over the impending inbound of Santa. Maybe we think too much or too little — scratch that, as we definitely do both — but Yours Truly is prone to seeing the yearly Black Friday brawl over billboard-sized TVs as much more indicative of humankind’s values and moral condition than some child who may or may not have been born in a manger in the desert a couple thousand Black Fridays ago, though probably not — spoiler alert! — on Dec. 25 or even in December.
To quote a story that actually made Christmas cool again: Bah, humbug.
Halloween! Now that’s a holiday: considering mortality and the darkness of life, the unseen and the unnoticed, plus free candy and costumes? What’s not to like? Definitely better than the holiday that has become all about eating too much, buying too much and putting hot cocoa kits and five-gallon pails of flavored popcorn on your credit card for Popsy and Nana. They’re way too nice to let you know they hate that shit. Given our druthers, we’d make Halloween last from Sept. 1 to Jan. 1, after which would begin the two frigid months of Midwinter Gloomsween, when Krampus stalks the long nights, scooping up rambunctious children. What a treat!
Yours Truly wasn’t always a December hater, we must confess. We loved December as a child, of course, back during our prime gift gettin’ and candy scarfin’ years. And we loved it even more, somehow, when Junior was a lad, until he stopped wanting toy trains and trucks and pogo sticks and started actually looking forward to getting clothes. We used to be positively bullish on December. But as you get older, something funny happens. December stops looking like the last chance to reflect before a new year’s beginnings and starts looking like the end of another year — maybe good and maybe bad, but definitely one you’ll never get back. That’s true for all of us, we suppose, from the young to the old, but when the gray starts creeping into your beard and the hair starts getting a bit sparse up top, it’s tempting to see time as a personal affliction instead of something that wallops us all eventually, fair and square. Too, there’s just the fact that old bones don’t like the chilly months and never have, and we’re not only talking about our own. Ever wonder why the oldest of old-timey literature eventually gets around to telling us “The King had ruled for 30 winters in peace”? They put it like that because once you’ve been king for a while, you start to feel every damn one of those winters. As any old fart can tell you: The only weatherman in the world with 100 percent accuracy is an achy hip. Tells you when a cold snap is coming better than Ned Perme ever dared.
And so, The Observer prepares for December. Fuzzy socks and double-thick hoodie. Earflap hunting hat that isn’t so much Holden Caulfield anymore as it is “Vermont crank.” We’ve had our electro-blankie, probably giving us some exotic cancer as we speak, on the bed for over a month now, cranked to “HI”, the constant warmth stupefying the cats to the point they become unresponsive puddles of hair and making it even harder for Yours Truly to climb out bed and face the mirror on chilly mornings.
Fine: December, then! We will belly-ache about it, mutter and gripe about it, but there’s nothing to be done except tough it out. The Bahamas are too expensive, California is on fire and Florida is full of Floridians, so we will remain. Perhaps at some point in the next four weeks, Three Spirits will rouse us from our electrically heated bed and show us the true meaning of the season, with stops at Tiny Tim’s house, the joyful home of some ol’ hot tamale from college who got away, and the late Observer’s windswept and unmourned grave. We can hope. Maybe it’ll take The Observer’s mind off the fact we can’t feel our feet.