Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Yesterday was my final day of shopping, and it featured the entirety of my wrapping for the year. As such, despite a massive slate of December observances, we weren’t able to get up to very much. I’m willing to consider bumping a few of these auspicious celebrations until later in the week – as we have done in the past – as I don’t expect we’ll see another day quite this manic before the year is up. Here’s what we managed to scrape together for our Monday:

Winter Solstice

There are numerous ways around the world for folks to celebrate the shortest day in the northern hemisphere. In Iran they celebrate Yalda Night, which features a massive feast with family (or with one’s cohort this year, assuming they’re keeping things tight like the rest of us), plus reading of poetry. I think we came closest to this one: we had a feast (of pulled chicken tacos), had some drinks (gin & tonic for me), and I even read a bit of poetry just for completeness sake. I opted for the work of renowned Persian poet Hafiz, as his work is the most traditionally associated with this night. A good friend of mine turned me onto the music of Hafiz’s words last year (back when we could visit with friends). Here’s the one I went with:

Let Thought Become Your Beautiful Lover

Let thought become the beautiful woman.

Cultivate your mind and heart to that depth

That it can give you everything

A warm body can.

Why just keep making love with God’s child – – Form

When the Friend Himself is standing

Before us

So open-armed?

My dear,

Let prayer become your beautiful Lover

And become free,

Become free of this whole world

Like Hafiz.

I like how he ties it in at the end. The moral is: be like me. And the bulk of the piece explains why that is a decidedly groovy thing to be. I read a few more of his poems, and thought for a while how this long dark night will give way to brighter evenings and warmer mornings over the next few months. 2020 will end, not with a miraculous dismissal of all of its ruin, but with a step forward toward our society’s recovery.

The winter solstice was a sacred time in the pre-Christian pagan traditions, and it’s most likely because of those traditions that Jesus’ birth is celebrated when it is. With the solstice technically landing at our planet’s greatest tilt, this day becomes a majestic intertwining of faith and science – equally poignant and special to both.

Crossword Puzzle Day

Yes, the crossword puzzle has its origins in the 19th century. But the first puzzle to most accurately resemble the puzzles we have today appeared in the New York World issue that was published 107 years ago yesterday.

I don’t mind the crossword puzzle, and I will confess to having learned to do them by leaning heavily on the crossword dictionary my mom owned (and wore completely out). Nowadays I do the electronic kind in my Puzzle Page game, like the one pictured above. Crosswords are not only a good test of one’s vocabulary and knowledge of culture and history, but also it’s worth taking a moment to appreciate some of the incredibly clever clue-creation that the puzzle-makers put together. It’s an art form by itself.

I couldn’t do much other than play the one crossword game yesterday; time was tight. But I wasn’t going to let this day slip by.

Don’t Make Your Bed Day

How to celebrate this one? Easy – don’t make your bed. I knew Abbey would come through for us on this one, as she never makes her bed when she stays with us. I have no doubt she is meticulous about keeping up with it when she’s at home, along with the rest of her household chores, but when she’s here, all bets are off. I’m lying of course – I know she hasn’t made her bed since junior high. Come on.

This celebration was created by Shannon Barba, a fifth-grader from Tijeras, New Mexico. In 2014, Shannon pushed a petition up to Congress to get this day enacted officially. She argued that kids have been making their beds every day for the past year, and they deserve a day off. I don’t believe that’s true, as I’m sure there are plenty of parents as lackadaisical and easy-going as Jodie and I out there, but the thought is nice. There is even some extra logic behind this thinking. It’s the shortest day of the year, therefore the day that people would theoretically spend the least amount of time out of bed. So it makes sense to not make the beds, right?

Right, Shannon. I’m totally with you. And in solidarity, we did not make our bed yesterday. Not even once.

Humbug Day

This day exists simply for folks to grumble and grouch about the impending holiday season. I’m actually feeling quite positive about this holiday season, apart from the cruel reality that Colton and his girlfriend have not been able to jet across the country to visit. But that’s no way to approach a celebration. I can absolutely bitch and moan with the best of them. So, keeping in mind my typically sunny disposition, here is what pisses me off about the holidays.

The music. Fuck that music. Almost every single Christmas song is obnoxious and sub-par. I love music – it is the manna that propels each of my breaths. But I don’t agree with listening to a certain album or a certain song only at a certain time of year. The Lovin’ Spoonful’s “Summer in the City” works just fine in the dead of winter. But why doesn’t “Jingle Bell Rock” belong in July? Because it’s an inarguably shitty song, and it doesn’t even belong in December.

The obligations. I like buying presents for the kids, and I love shopping for ideas for my mom (who is tough to buy for) and my wife (who is not, at least for me). I don’t like the fact that we feel obligated to buy gifts for nieces and nephews we seldom if ever see. Or for office secret santas, or other weird traditions. I get that it’s a huge boost to our economy, but I think we need to ditch the Christmas presents and start ramping up the birthday presents. Get your loved one a full-on stocking full of goodies for their birthday next year.

The war on Christmas. There is no war. There never was. The only people who bring it up are the people who are trying to convince you it exists. Christmas is doing just fine.

That’s all. I can’t dwell in negativity, but I can appreciate the catharsis of letting some of that grumpiness out. Humbug to all.

Ribbon Candy Day

Hey look, we have some ribbon candy! Not really – this is more of a sour jelly candy that is shaped like a ribbon, whereas proper ribbon candy would land under the hard candy designation we talked about yesterday. But this was what we had on hand, and it was delightful. I’m not going to get all deep with this one – we had a ribbon candy thing, and we ate the ribbon candy thing. A pleasant time was had by those of us who ate it.

National Short Girl Appreciation Day

I married a woman who tops out just a hair below 5 feet. She makes me feel like a giant, and I’m 5’10” if I stand on my toes. I remember my fifth grade teacher, Mr. Foster (whose reputation for smashing yardsticks in class was legendary), gave me a tip about short people. He said you’ve got to watch them – Napoleon, Hitler, and my friend Scott (who I think wound up taller than I). Mr. Foster was a cautious one.

Well, I watch Jodie every day. I watch her until my eyes get tired, and then I watch her even more in my dreams. She is the light of my world, and the primary reason I have made it through 2020 with a smile on my face and a song (not a fucking Christmas song) in my heart. I can’t put into words how much I appreciate her, and I’ve been spewing out 1,500-2,000 words every day about this and that. But not one of those words is enough to do her justice.

Every day is National Short Girl Appreciation Day around here. If I want someone even shorter I’ve got three dogs who fit the description and I appreciate the hell out of them as well. But we’re sticking with humans for this party. I’ve got my favourite one here, and I’m lucky as hell for it.

Today we might still tackle flashlights, shorts, hamburgers and bright sides. Here’s what else we might deal with:

  • National Date Nut Bread Day. No. We don’t need more sweet breadstuffs in our house, dammit.
  • National Short Person Day. Can I just copy-paste from today? Is that cheating? That’s probably cheating.
  • National Cookie Exchange Day. A classic holiday party that we won’t be indulging in this year. Neither should anyone else; there’s a pandemic, remember?
  • Be A Lover Of Silence Day. I’m a huge fan of silence. It’s my second-favourite after ‘noise’.

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