Monday, December 28, 2020

It was a Sunday, and we were offered only three possible celebrations for the day. One involved fruitcake, something none of us have ever enjoyed (apart from when we chucked it off a cliff back in January). Another advised us to visit the zoo, which is closed for a spectacular looking lighting display at the moment. Tickets for that event have been sold out for ages, mainly because it’s a walk-through exhibit and they have to account for proper social distancing and slow-moving old people. That left us only one thing, which we weren’t particularly jazzed about. This will be an utterly brief article – in fact, probably the briefest of the year. There really isn’t much to say about this:

Make Cut-Out Snowflakes Day

Kirigami is a form of origami that involves folding up paper and using scissors to create masterworks like the ones pictured above.

That’s it. That’s our December 27. We indulged in this little craft project, and moved on with our lives. It was almost like a sneak preview of next year. It was a little bit glorious.

It was also the 53rd anniversary of Dylan’s John Wesley Harding album, so I gave that a spin. It was the least I could do, to try to incorporate a bit more celebration into an otherwise incredibly sparse day. Maybe we’ll find more to keep us busy today.

Today does indeed feature a small (but still significant) multitude of potential celebrations. Here’s what’s on our radar:

  • National Short Film Day. Short films are a great way to spend some time, whether it’s Salvador Dali’s weird and disturbing Un Chien Andalou or the new Pixar short. We can do this one.
  • National Chocolate Candy Day. What luck – Christmas gifted us all with some chocolate candy to enjoy.
  • National Card Playing Day. We have the time and we have a deck of cards. I think we can dive into this one too.
  • National Call A Friend Day. Who will be the lucky recipient? Or unlucky… does anyone still enjoy talking on the phone?
  • National Download Day. I guess it’s a good day to snag some illegal movies?

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Back to gimmick-free writing, in which I can really, truly, and absolutely use as many adverbs as I wish. It’s kind of a relief, though I appreciated my No-L Christmas challenge. Yesterday we created the Christmas feast we’d planned for the 25th, and we embraced the fact that we didn’t have to leave the house for anything. In fact, we probably don’t need to leave the house for the next week, though I suspect doughnuts may be in the cards in a few days. It also occurred to me that in a week I will no longer be documenting the bizarre minutiae of my days. I can return to a life of mystery and quiet solitude. That doesn’t sound so bad, really. But we aren’t there yet – here’s how we handled our 26th:

Boxing Day

This is a British holiday which crept onto Canadian calendars and never left, even when we formally excused ourselves from the Empire. In the olden days, servants would be permitted to go visit their families and collect their tokens of thanks from their employers on this day, having had to serve their master-folk throughout Christmas. So the history of Boxing Day is that it was Christmas for the poor, in a way. They’d receive a ‘Christmas Box’, and dammit, they’d better be grateful for it.

In the newer days, meaning the entirety of my lifetime, Boxing Day has been a day of shopping. Boxing Day sales have turned into Boxing Week sales, and the day tends to eclipse Black Friday in terms of being the primary deal-hunting day of the year. I’ve worked Boxing Day in retail. At the computer store where I worked in the late 90s, it meant waking up before 6:00am on the day after Christmas merriment to stand in a store and watch people fight over discounted inkjet printers. When I worked at Radio Shack at our big ol’ mall in ’96, someone was literally stabbed to death just outside my store. What a fun day.

I expect photos will surface online of the Boxing Day crowds at the mall yesterday, but we were not among them. We adhered to our own Boxing Day ritual, which involves staying inside and enjoying our new presents in relative quiet. We read, we watched some football, we played some games, and we ate a tremendous feast (pictured above). It was exactly what Boxing Day should be.

National Thank-You Note Day

It’s a fine day to thank the folks who took the time and effort to brighten our Christmases with gifts. Our son got me a free six months of watching the Criterion Channel streaming service, something I had to give up when this project took over all my free time. The subscription begins on January 1, so that’s perfect. Others who gifted us with a lovely Xmas haul also received a note of thanks yesterday.

Everyone else who gave me a gift happened to be in our house yesterday, so they received their thanks in person. I can only write so many notes in a single day, especially when I have to report on all of it to you people.

The only thank-you note I couldn’t send was to my Reddit Secret Santa, a fun worldwide program in which I’ve participated for the last six years. I still haven’t received that gift yet. But I have faith it’s coming.

A thank-you note is a must in this era when we can accomplish the feat by punching at the screens of our phones for a few seconds. Make sure you let the folks who hooked you up with goodies yesterday know that you appreciate it.

National Whiners Day

This day was surprisingly concocted by a Reverend Kevin Zaborney back in 1986. The notion in Rev. Kev’s head was that we’d whine today, then realize that we should be thankful for what we have and appreciate our shit. And our people. This seems like a roundabout way to steering us toward yet another love-your-groovy-life type celebration. Why start with whining? Why not simply end with whining and let the 26th be a kvetch-fest for all?

The rules for this day are that you are not allowed to whine about what you did or did not get for Christmas, nor are you allowed to whine about what you do not possess. And you are also supposed to remember what you do have. Okay, sure.

It’s not fair that I still live in a place where winter exists for at least half the year. I hate the fact that Rosa, our #2 canine research assistant, has flatulence that evokes memories of demon-harvested sour eggs. And why must my coffee maker shut down automatically after two hours? Sometimes I drink slowly, dammit!

Okay, that’s enough whining for one day. I was in too chipper a mood to get up to any more whining than that yesterday. After all, I am grateful what I have. I was before Rev. Kev told me to be. I’ll credit this project for steering me in that direction on practically a weekly basis.

National Candy Cane Day

The history I choose to believe (it’s classified as folklore, but I have no problem declaring it to be empirical, factual history) is that a choirmaster in Cologne Germany decided he wanted to reward his kids for hitting the right notes by having some candy sticks made up for them. Because this was 1670, and sugary indulgence in church was frowned upon, he requested the candy maker add a crook to the sticks, so that they would invoke the shepherd-Jesus notion. Because kids often think about deep religious symbolism as they devour sweets, right?

The first recorded recipe for peppermint candy sticks shows up in 1844, so I suppose we can begrudgingly conclude that the story above is indeed folklore and not an actual recorded event. By 1920 confectioners had come up with machines to make candy canes, so at that point the treat was indelibly linked to the Christmas season forever.

And why shouldn’t they be? Candy canes are wonderful. We enjoyed a couple of mini-canes we had on hand yesterday, but I opted to post a photo from our last doughnut run, which was a week earlier. That’s the candy cane doughnut, and it was every bit as sumptuous as it looks. Tragically, our doughnut shop had closed up for the holiday, and won’t reopen until Tuesday. But that thing looks so much tastier than our little canes. It deserves the spotlight.

The final Sunday of our year, and the penultimate Sunday of the football season. How much will we really want to get up to? Here are our choices:

  • National Fruitcake Day. Nope. We bought one back in January to throw into the river valley for National Fruitcake Toss Day, but unless someone gifts us with a delicious home-baked cake today, we’ll pass.
  • Make Cut-Out Snowflakes Day. A craft project? Not our forte.
  • Visit The Zoo Day. Our zoo is closed. Actually, it’s blasting out a terrific-looking light show right now, for which we could not secure tickets weeks ago. Cool.