Monday, December 14, 2020

As I begin my final work-week of 2020, I am gifted with the wondrous realization that this happens to be my every-fourth-Monday off so I can sleep in and pour all of my energies into crafting my meticulous words in the day’s celebration log. Or maybe an afternoon nap is in order instead. That sounds more on-brand for me, and certainly jives with the scraggly shell of a human we have all become after nearly eleven and a half months of weirdness. Given that I have the last two weeks of the year off as well, this means I will not have to face another Monday workday until January. I’m good with that. Abbey came home yesterday, and that was probably the high point of the day. I say “probably” because of course we had all this to look forward to:

National Cocoa Day

National Hot Chocolate Day landed on January 31, and it should surprise no one at this point that we absolutely celebrated the hell out of it. I understand that ‘cocoa’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘hot cocoa’, and that we could effectively celebrate this one by simply eating anything containing chocolate, but where’s the fun in that? When you hear the word, don’t you automatically think of a toasty beverage that tastes oh-so-good with Bailey’s or – for the younger crowd – after coming in from a long session of tobogganing?

We didn’t go tobogganing yesterday (there is no National Day for this – someone should remedy that), nor did we spend any time outside, apart from the airport trip to get our kid. But the weather hovered underneath the -15 mark, and that means it’s always advisable to enjoy as many cozy beverages as humanly possible. We had some great cocoa while watching football. What could be better?

And there’s no need to delve deep into the history of hot cocoa, as we have already covered chocolate’s use as a beverage throughout history several times this year. I think it was enough that we spent a delightful few moments of yesterday enjoying one of the greatest – if not the greatest – winter beverages humankind has ever produced.

National Ice Cream Day

Yes, this makes perfect sense. Drop a day for frozen treats onto a day that has a better than average chance of being sub-Arctic outside. My ire should be put on hold though; I’m thinking in a very north-centric way. Down in Australia I’m sure they are thrilled to grab a cone of their favourite ice cream (possibly bloomin’ onion flavour?) and enjoy it. I sincerely hope the Aussies are having a better summer than last year – remember when the entire country was on fire? That seems like a decade ago but it was just last summer.

So as much as we were not eager to dive into some ice cream on one of the coldest days of this winter so far, we indulged. Well, I did. Jodie was more interested in the hot cocoa, and for that I cannot fault her. But hey, she looks great holding the product. We go with our strengths.

It wasn’t anything fancy, and I sincerely hope this is the last frozen treats day of the year. Given that we are just over two weeks away from our grand finale, I suspect that’s likely. But this calendar has a way of throwing surprises at me. Weird, cold surprises.

Worldwide Candle Lighting Day

My first thought was how conveniently this particular celebration of candles happened to land right in the middle of Hanukkah, when we’re lighting candles every night anyway. But this is not a day to pay tribute to the wax and tallow brighteners of our nights, nor does it have anything to do with miraculous oil keeping the Maccabees at bay. This is actually a rather sombre event.

Worldwide Candle Lighting Day is when we spark up a candle at 7:00pm local time in order to pay tribute to the children who have passed away too soon. It started on the internet, but way back in 1997. It’s a time for families to gather and quietly remember those who have passed. The young ones in particular.

We have been immensely fortunate to have raised two kids beyond the realm of kid-dom without any major health complications. We have good friends who have lost children though, either before childbirth, in childbirth and after. We made sure to time our menorah lighting correctly yesterday, and we had a moment of genuine silence to reflect upon those lost souls.

National Violin Day

The violin may be the most ubiquitous non-percussion instrument on the planet. It shows up everywhere, from European folk music to grandiose classical and opera, to country and bluegrass, to rock ‘n roll. You might chance upon some electric violin if you’re either listening to some edgy fusion-rock or watching a Yahoo Serious movie. Younger folks may need to ask their parents who Yahoo Serious was, and most parents would probably have to look at Wikipedia because they don’t know either.

The Arabic rebab is the great ancestor to the violin, and every violin-ish instrument out there. It was a bowed device with a tiny round body and a limited number of strings, and it can be dated back to at least the 8th century. The violin came to be one of the dominant instruments in all of Europe, functioning as a street performing instrument or as a way to serenade royalty.

I never had much interest in the violin. Abbey, however, took lessons for a few months. From what I can recall, she hated it. She never felt comfortable holding it, and couldn’t get more than a note or two to sound remotely like how she wanted. She swapped it out for piano lessons after a quick run, and thankfully we had only rented the instrument so we weren’t out a bundle of cash.

It is a powerful instrument though. And there are a few violinists whose work I quite enjoy, though I don’t crank them up as often as I should. Stéphane Grappelli used to accompany Django Reinhardt, and the two of them made some amazing jazz together in the 1930s. Itzhak Perlman’s work will either move your soul or else your soul is frozen and/or dead and cannot be moved by anything. Jean-Luc Ponty’s style of eclectic jazz violin is simply outstanding. Take a listen to his work with John McLaughlin and the Mahavishnu Orchestra, or on Frank Zappa’s Hot Rats album. He’s also featured on Elton John’s Honky Chateau LP.

Yesterday I took some time and listened to some exquisite violin. It seemed like the right thing to do.

We have so few days left. Do we have the energy to get through them all? That depends on when you ask. For now, here’s what we’re looking at for Monday:

  • National Bouillabaisse Day. This is a tremendous amount of work, and expensive as hell to make. So no, we won’t be doing this one.
  • National Alabama Day. A day to pay tribute to a state I have very little interest in visiting.
  • National Free Shipping Day. I wonder if any of the major shipping companies will be celebrating this one.
  • National Monkey Day. Another day to learn some interesting facts about another very interesting animal.
  • Roast Chestnuts Day. Maybe. I doubt we have any chestnuts on hand.
  • Green Monday. This used to serve as a warning flag that Christmas was coming and that you’d better order online soon or else it will be too late. This was conceived before Amazon’s standard one or two day shipping.

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