When the first heavy snow fell, we expressed surprise and dismay as we shivered in thin jackets, stomped our sneakers free of flakes, and bought new snow shovels.
Another unending January indifferent to the discomforts and inconveniences caused by its weather. Noses run. Furnaces strain. Clumps of melting snow litter entryways, and glazed patches of ice glint with menace beneath a weak winter sun.
I have an unusual Christmas tradition. I watch for Cook Chevrolet’s annual newspaper ad: a list of events or circumstances that made the previous year a good one. For example, in 2014, the list included “We live in a beautiful place, surrounded by the nicest people in the world. Most of us have our good health. We slept inside last night. We ate yesterday, and we will eat again today.” The list finished with “The Broncos are in the playoffs.”
Years have passed without several of my important people, and I’ve lost some of the details that made them unique: their laughs, their intonations, their facial expressions. But Christmas helps me remember. As I bake cookies, hang ornaments, or listen to the gentle notes of carols, memories of those who shared my Christmases bring them back to me in their entirety.
My hair stood on end when I first heard the song “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town.” Evidently, Santa knew if I’d been good or bad and cared. As I listened to Perry Como warbling on the radio, “So be good for goodness sake,” I filled with anxiety: “Christmas is four days away, and just this morning I hogged the bathroom, folded the corner of a library book, and sneaked a box of Jell-O from the kitchen — and ate all of it. I’m doomed.”
I used to read Shel Silverstein’s poetry to my students because it made them giggle. One of his poems described the persnickety Mary Hume who spent her life finding unforgiveable flaws in her birthday parties, boyfriends and pupils.
Courtesy lies on its deathbed, fading away unnoticed: no letters filled with love and gratitude, no phone calls expressing concern and caring, no bedside visitors with mournful eyes and soothing hands. The windowsills of Courtesy’s hushed chamber display no get-well cards or flowers, and no one has carried a casserole to Courtesy’s door.
When I skimmed a February 2013 feature in Parade Magazine, I recognized column material: The article consisted of a quiz on research-based techniques for reducing family fights from Bob Feiler’s book, The Secrets of Happy Families.
When I can’t sleep, it’s usually because I’m entertaining mind-boggling concerns: What if I my doctor tells me the bump on my big toe looks cancerous? I tried to call Barbara three times, and her line was busy; someone must have died. I’d like to walk to my meeting tomorrow; but if I do, I might be late; and if I’m late, everyone will look at me, and if they look at me, I’ll be sweaty and red-faced from walking.
I’m neither Oprah nor Dr. Phil; but, based on novels and personal ponderings, I’ve developed a blueprint for staying married long enough to finish the leftover wedding cake.