The last time I finished November with three rivalry losses and a sinus infection was 2007. The Christmas season didn’t get much better after that. Part of it was the comedown of returning from London, Paris and York to my workaday job, part of it was realizing I’d caught the bait and switch and that said job was essentially two shitty part-time jobs slapped together into a single sub-contract, and part of it was just wrapped up in the Dysfunctional Family Christmas ™ that really bottomed out that December. All in all, it was a prime capper to the third-worst year of my life (and the only thing keeping it out of second was that I couldn’t drink in 1986), and the new Kanye West single “The Good Life” mocked me from my iTunes. If one of our friends hadn’t scheduled a cocktail party for December 28, I don’t know how I would have made it through the trip.
This year looks brighter, football notwithstanding. I’m not going to be heading out of town for the holidays, in all likelihood, and the drama will be at arms’ length with my relations in the old country. I have a pretty good feeling about this Christmas season, although that may just be me being hopeful. Christmas is a season unto itself in my reckoning, set between Late Fall and Winter, and a time for ordinary service to be suspended in favor of lights, songs, James Bond flicks on the DVD player, and as much socializing as can be managed.
Christmas has always been a mixed bag for me ever since I got to be too old for toys. 1986 was particularly dreadful, because I literally knew every single present I was getting before I even went to bed on the 24th – and everything just felt empty. After that, my mantra was “I don’t care what I get, big or small or whatever, just surprise me.” Two years later, Christmas was movies and hanging out with my team and a riotous New Year’s party and I don’t remember a single gift I got except for a certain gray fedora that went on to be iconic for a year. 1994 may have been the best Christmas ever – me home from grad school in my big leather coat and a Vanderbilt cap while my girlfriend was out of town for two weeks and my high school gang was all back together, and school hadn’t yet gone pear-shaped, and we had the Internet for the first time and life was full of promise. Come to think of it, 2008 was pretty damned awesome, with the thrill of getting to leave my job for my current one and have three weeks to kill alongside a rack of great tunes and the sun shining on the green hills of California through December as Vanderbilt bore down on its first bowl game in twenty-five years and I watched Cal defenestrate Miami at AT&T Park through the haze of post-flu hangover.
So what about this year? It’s had its ups and downs, for sure. I remember in 2006, all I wanted was a dull moment after the whirlwind of…well, of the last ten or fifteen years, to be honest. I wouldn’t say 2010 was a dull moment, not when you start with Alabama vs Texas and drag your mother and her husband through five countries in two and a half weeks and get hailed on at a football game and bust out of the NCAA tournament on a shot you’ll be seeing on the highlights for twenty years and down a shit-ton of absinthe while watching the SAINTS win the Super Bowl and officially lift the ceiling on what your co-workers are prepared to believe about you. But it wasn’t nearly as chaotic as it could have been, and that’s more or less what I needed this time around.
There we go. I think I hit 500 words or so every day, which means I did about 15,000 words. It’s no NaNoWriMo, but that wasn’t on the cards this time out. Maybe next year – although if I had a nickel for every year I’ve planned to write my Great American Alt-History Novel for NaNoWriMo, I’d have 35 cents.
Merry Christmas to all…and to y’all a good night.