Bless the broken hearted. Bless the Beatles. Bless the beasts and the children.
Always nice to curl up with a good holiday on a cold night. Bam-bam-bam … Thanksgiving-Christmas-New Year’s come and go. They are our warmest blankets. They are the band-aids of the soul.
Now we rip off the band-aid. Ouch.
Guess everything comes and goes. Childhood, college, the lusty overwhelming buzz of fresh love. Was pondering this the other day, and wondered: If love is so easy and wonderful, why is marriage so hard?
The short answer: Nobody knows.
I love the holidays (it may show a little). The season is rich in relationships, false hopes, romance, bad weather, disappointment, chronic debt, unbridled joy and the smells coming from the kitchen.
Was thinking the other day that I could write a one-act play based on the various smells coming from a family oven from Thanksgiving through New Year’s — what the recipes represent, the resonance of a favorite dish, the right way to stuff flounder.
More than anything, it would deal with what goes into something as simple as a baked pie (duty, resources, experience, nutmeg and a desire to please others).
And now we begin to pack it all up, the ornaments, the hangovers, the memories. The blessings, too, more evident during the holidays than any other time of year.
My New Year’s toast: Bless the broken hearted. Bless the Beatles. Bless the beasts and the children (Karen Carpenter’s most underrated song).
All cultures, all religions, have some central festivus they celebrate. For Christians, it all pretty much ends today, on Jan. 2. Now we box up the holidays and start all over again. Good for us for moving on.
Poet Dana Gioia called New Year’s the most mundane and human holiday, the “tiny fissure where the future drips.”
I knew I felt something.
Just ahead: Great winter sunsets … January white sales … the NFL playoffs. Cold storms add a fine sheen to a winter’s day … steamy breath, snow on the ridge, rain on a window pane.
Oddest thing: Two days after Christmas, after a good and blustery storm, White Fang and I got trapped in a rainbow.
It hovered in a vale of mist and hyper-logic, just above the 7-Eleven. Before we knew it, we were right in the middle of the damned thing.
Got rainbow all over my new sweatshirt, and White Fang kept chomping at it, the way she chomps on all the things she loves (puddles, leftover salmon, my left arm).
So that’s how we wound up lost in this phantom rainbow. Can’t recommend it enough. Follow me. More phantom rainbows ahead in 2021. We’ll take selfies.
In a new year, I don’t make resolutions. I prefer visions and hallucinations.
I also make lists: Hiking trails and pizzerias I want to try, maybe a few new stews. Life is anticipation, so I battle the January doldrums with these modest to-do lists.
Listen, January can be great. Deer tracks in the snow. Thick soups and fat biographies. Music (Haydn, Prine, Laura Nyro).
In my lifetime, no new year has arrived with so many expectations, as if flipping a calendar page will suddenly make everything better.
Bad times do not follow the seasons.
Yet, like life, a new year represents the triumph of rainbows over reason.
Anybody want to help us put the holiday stuff away? Oh, come on. Only takes 11 days. My son Smartacus might make nachos (no promises though).
By tradition, Smartacus and I always forget to put at least one item away – a reindeer towel, a door decoration, a Santa butter knife. For us, it’s inevitable that we extend the holidays with this one little oversight.
I suppose story-tellers have always been smitten with Christmas: Charles Dickens, Charles Schulz, Dr. Seuss (our family physician). The holidays often led to their very best work.
They find in the season a small flicker of the human spirit, amid the disappointment and obligations that often dog us.
Makes me wish I were a deeper person. Makes me wish I had their grasp of joy vs. misery.
Instead, I wallow in my foolish elfish tendencies. I am, for instance, the only one left in my family who still believes in Santa.
I even send Santa thank you notes:
Dear Fat Man, just a quick Candygram to let you know you really knocked it out of the park this year.
Hope you were watching when my daughter Rapunzel stood up, held up a pair of new PJs and squealed:
“These are the tie-dyed pants my quarantined heart always dreamed of!!!”
Never mind the syntax. Point is: You make Christmas look so easy.
Of course, those new jeans you brought don’t fit me, but do jeans ever fit middle-aged dads?
Note to elves: More Spandex in my waist line. More bourbon in my bourbon.
As you know, Santa, when I was young, I fell face first into a life of modest good luck and failed opportunities. I’ve always had a soft spot for underdogs and girls with freckles. I failed at journalism and trifectas. Couldn’t fix a car to save my life.
But, thanks to you, I always managed a solid Christmas.
As you also know, I cannot resist temptation. Since the age of 2, I have been powerless over impulse. Not sure I was mothered very well, to tell the truth.
For instance, if I’m listening to the Pentatonix, and the FedEx gal knocks on the door, I always propose marriage. I don’t even know her name, her Zodiac sign, her true feelings for me or the Pentatonix, but when the moment is right, I just go with it.
Well, for me, the moment is always right. I fall in love too fast, without looking in both directions, to see if a truck is coming.
As a result, I am currently engaged to seven FedEx delivery gals, and one toad-looking dude from UPS whom I mistook for one (it was the way he walked more than anything).
The big question, do I marry them all at once, or individually?
Love is fleeting, Santa. As is Christmas, as is life. So I’d like to make the most of this current situation.
By the way, Santa, let me ask: If love is so easy and wonderful, why is marriage so damn hard?
Any tips would be appreciated.
Counting the days till we can Happy Hour Hike the Rose Bowl, Los Liones in the Palisades and other SoCal trails. Please keep an eye on the website for schedules. And please buy a book, or some gin glasses, if you already haven’t. Keeps this shaky little enterprise afloat. Many thanks. Info: chriserskinela.com/