Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Well ho, ho, and nearly ho then – Christmas is looming like a Universal movie monster, albeit shrouded in grainy half-light this year. We have already celebrated more than two thousand other things so far in 2020, so making a big deal over the anniversary of Santa’s bar mitzvah (or whatever – I haven’t yet done my research into the Christmas story) doesn’t seem quite as important. But it is. This is when families usually gather in masses, toast with various forms of intoxicating cheer in the glasses, and occasionally smooch, punch or drink one another onto their asses. And this year it’s profoundly different. But we will endure, and embrace the knowledge that this is a one-time glitch in our lifetimes of Christmases. Besides, look at all the other fun shit happening during Christmas week:

National Cookie Exchange Day

A cookie exchange, as we all know, comes under the Oakley protocol, which is a protocol of key management. Now that I think of it, Wikipedia may be letting me down on this one. I’m pretty sure this cookie exchange page is a computer thing, and not a baked goods thing.

That’s okay – we all know what a cookie exchange is, right? Everyone bakes up a batch of whatever, then in a grand get-together which features rigorous sampling, everyone goes home with an assortment of everything after only having had to bake up one type. It’s a great idea, and it makes absolutely no sense in the time of Covid. No one is getting together, and if they are, we are supposed to call the police, apparently. I won’t be calling any police if my neighbours get together this holiday season, and I won’t even scowl at them from a distance if it happens to be a cookie exchange and they float me a few freebies.

Because there was no exchanging of baked goods for us yesterday, Abbey and I took a more straightforward approach to this celebration. We each picked a cookie from our selection of baked goods (which grew in number once again yesterday), and exchanged them with one another. Technically, this counts. Technically is good enough in 2020, as we have established already. Besides, why complain when the end result is eating cookies?

National Flashlight Day

Technically the birthday of the flashlight is (maybe) January 10. It was in 1899 when David Misell filed a patent for the thing, which used dry cell batteries, invented only 12 years earlier. Maybe there were flashlights before that, but it doesn’t really matter – it wasn’t until the invention of the tungsten-filament lights we know and love (1904) when flashlights became a must-have tool.

So why celebrate them yesterday? Technically we simply bumped this one from a day earlier – National Flashlight Day is meant to land on the year’s longest night. This is, after all, the biggest chunk of time in which someone might wish to use a flashlight.

I’d love to spiral into an interesting flashlight anecdote from my past, but I really don’t have one. I have used one to read under the covers, to lightsaber duel with a friend at a sleepover, and to find stuff when the power goes out. Like pretty much everyone else. We celebrated the day by using a flashlight for a few moments, which was more than we’d actually needed to use a flashlight yesterday.

Still, we’re glad we have it.

National Look At The Bright Side Day

Okay, I’ll do one more of these, and that’s it. Of all the celebrations (seriously – over 2,000?) in which we have indulged this fanciful and oft-frightening year, this is by far the most common recurring motif of the bunch. Things are good. Appreciate the good. It’s good to be good. Power of positive yadda yadda and all that.

And we have celebrated these well. We have watched the world spiral through an utterly ridiculous year that will one day get its own set of shelves in reputable libraries everywhere. Doom and gloom and the same ol’ room have dominated conversations, and every other day we see an article or two about society’s crumbling state of mental well-being. Well, speaking on behalf of those of us whose mental well-being was crumbling long before 2020 came along to shake things up, we will get through it.

And one of the best ways to get through it is to look at the bright side from time to time. We have skipped over a handful of these, but I’ve found the ones we’ve tackled to be a welcome pause in the crap-packed deluge of 2020. There is always a bright side. Even when it’s fifty to sixty times tinier than the crappy side.

So we’ll indulge once more. The bright side of this lost Christmas is that it’s the only one. Down the road we can all reflect on things with thoughts like, “Hey, at least it isn’t 2020.” Another bright side of this year is that we all went through it together. Putting aside numbskulls who still don’t believe there’s a pandemic or who feel American democracy is worth sacrificing so that the rich guy doesn’t have to go back to his golden toilet, we have all endured a shared cultural experience that will shape our collective understanding. In ten years there will be a generation of young people who won’t get any of the references to this year, or life before it. That will be weird. And we old folk will be even more firmly united.

I encourage everyone to look around you and find the bright side of this mess. It’s there. You just might have to dig. And dig. And dig.

Be A Lover Of Silence Day

SONY DSC

I am. No question. As much as music provides the billows to the flame of my being, silence is just as necessary for survival. Sometimes it’s the silence within the music that moves me. Sometimes it’s the pure, uninterrupted bliss of utter peace.

I don’t get a lot of silence in my life. At work there is always a dull hum of monotonous blather in the distance. Even working from home, if I don’t have music playing I usually have the serenade of my fingers tip-tapping on the keyboard to fill my earholes. At night, with three dogs on our bed (two of whom are flat-nosed perpetually-snoring bulldogs), I am ensconced in white noise, not true silence. So when I get the opportunity to savour it, I like to savour it.

Yesterday I took a few quiet moments while writing to pull my hands back and just listen to nothing. The dogs were even courteously downstairs, allowing me the closest to absolute quiet I can achieve without leaving the house and hiding somewhere. Colton, our absentee (not by choice) son, has told me about the wonders of a sensory deprivation tank – a true immersion in absolute silence of the senses. But I never got a chance to try one out before Covid hit and all those places have shut down for now. Perhaps that’s a goal for 2021: to achieve that true complete silence and to swim in it.

Until then, I’ll deal with the snores.

National Short Person Day

Yesterday I took a few moments to spew out some loving words for my lovely wife, who fits the definition of a short girl perfectly, by being both short and a girl. Today is Short Person Day – note the word ‘appreciation’ is not in there anywhere – and I don’t feel it’s right to simply repeat the thing I did literally one day ago.

So instead I’ll contemplate my own shortness. At 5’9” I’m not exactly living in fear that I’ll be barred from riding any roller coasters due to my stature. But I’m also keenly aware that I never rose to my dad’s 5’11”. I’m also aware that my height is ‘average’, but average means there will always be shelves in my home that are tricky for me to reach without standing on something. It means I probably won’t be obstructing many views in a crowd situation, but I also have a strong possibility someone will be obstructing mine. Not that a crowd situation is likely for the next few months, but still.

Randy Newman famously penned a song that claims that short people have no reason to live. He reportedly hated that people took that song seriously, when it was clearly meant to be a satirical look at the arbitrary and fickle nature of prejudice. People don’t get nuance, that’s the lesson here.

I am fine with my averageness, and Jodie rarely bemoans her legitimate shortness. There are plenty of other things to complain about in this world – though even then, we need to keep Look on the Bright Side Day in our minds – and being short is easily conquerable with chairs, stepladders and high heels.

Rock on, little folk.

National Hamburger Day

We celebrated this day back in May, as I’m sure you recall. Why wouldn’t you recall that, fictional person to whom I’m addressing this paragraph? Were you not paying attention? Should you go back and re-read everything I wrote until you understand? Christ, even I don’t plan on rereading all this.

We have celebrated hamburgers, cheeseburgers and bacon double cheeseburgers this year. I have poured through the history of the burger and dissected its importance in western culture several times. Yesterday, which is acknowledged as the second National Hamburger Day of the year, seems to have no special significance, date-wise. So we simply made some burgers and ate them.

Some of these are just too easy.

Today is the ultimate last-minute day for folks who still need to shop, wrap, and deliver gifts. We are fortunate to be done with all that, so we’ll have plenty of time for this:

  • National Pfeffernusse Day. This is some sort of complicated German cookie. We are plenty full of cookies at the moment.
  • National Roots Day. A day for looking into our family history, which we have already done this year. Maybe we just listen to the band?
  • Night of the Radishes. It’s a day for carving radishes, which apparently is a big deal in Oaxaca, Mexico.
  • Tibb’s Eve. This is a Newfoundland tradition, which automatically tells me it’s probably a blast to celebrate. Sure enough, it’s a day during the period of advent in which it’s groovy to crack a few and drink up. Nice.
  • Festivus. I look forward to challenging Liberty, our beloved golden retriever, to some feats of strength.

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