When Trees Clap Their Hands
Seven Keepers: Favorite Album Releases of 2012 (Revised)

What I Have Been Doing, Here, On the Eve of Christmas, When the World Didn't End

Careful_or_youll_end_up_in_my_novel_bumper_sticker-p128702484617530524en7pq_216I've been a bad, bad little blogger.  My last post was dated December 16th, nearly two weeks ago, and my (two) fans have been clamoring for more verbiage to tickle their ears and give them pause to reflect, so I have decided to comply with their wishes.  But if you're looking for another brooding bromide of brilliance here, you may wish to reconsider, since after over 900 posts and the intervening eight Christmases, I'm fresh out. (And yes, I know "bromide" isn't really the right word, but sometimes alliteration wins out.)


Today, we celebrated our annual Christmas lunch with my extended family. We pay close attention to the time at which such events are scheduled.  This one was slated for noon, and you must be there at noon or you'll be licking scraps from emptied serving bowls.  At 11:45, some of the men have to be tethered to their recliners, drooling, like rabid dogs, an unnatural posture for men and recliners as men seem fashioned by their Creator to perfectly reside in recliners, hands on their universal remotes.  Once untethered, the food is consumed in a leisurely 10 minutes, and then the men return to sofa and recliners and take up something, anything with pixels, on ESN (the Eternal Sports Network). I ate ham, green beans, sweet potato casserole, deviled eggs, potato salad, strawberry cobbler, pumpkin pie, a chocolate cover cherry, coconut meringue pie, and. . . and I think that's all.  I'm hungry again, though.

We don't partake of alcohol at our family get togethers.  We don't need to.  We have my nearly 90-year old aunt, who is hard of hearing, loud, bigoted, and opinionated, a wonderful aunt with a zest for life.  She had her hair done just for the event.  She's perfectly fine unless she starts talking about the boys that play on top of her house and play loud "boom-boom" music at all hours, or she starts talking about the subject of interracial marriage.  She engaged the latter topic recently as we dined at a nice restaurant, and it was a wonder we weren't ejected.  She's loud.  But as I said, we don't need alcohol to liven up things.  We have her.

I want to come clean right now.  I rear-ended another car recently.  No one was hurt.  I was only going about 10 miles and hour, which is like being stopped for someone who drives a Mini Cooper S.  The other gentleman was very nice about it. I was mad as h-e-double-hockey-sticks at myself. I think I did about $25 worth of damage to his car.  Mine suffered $7000 damage.  It's the first at fault two-car collision I have had in my long driving career.  I've been driving since I was seven, first illegally (with my aunt, the one who is bigoted and loud and my favorite) and then mostly legally.  I mean, I have had a few accidents, but mostly I have them alone it seems.  I backed into a mail box post, into a car in my driveway, into my unopened garage door, and maybe a few other things.  This time I was doing some other really important things in the car rather than paying attention to the road, like checking my IPhone, because you know you have to keep up with emails and such, immediately, or you may get behind in life, and they are all so very important.  Focus!

So, I just wanted to get that out there, just in case you think I'm practically perfect, Poppins-like, or something.

I think it was God-ordained.  Today, I woke up thinking of buying a new car.  There are few more pleasurable moments in a man's life than buying a new car, or a boat, something big with an engine that makes a lot of racket. One of my friends buys a new car like every six months.  Because, you know, new cars get old, quick, and the new car smells wears off, and you need to do something about it, so if you can, you buy a new car.  And if you can't afford that, you buy a bigger TV.

My brother-in-law just retired after 40 years of working.  He's going to stay home and bother my sister.  I expect him to buy a new TV, maybe a 70-inch model, with a universal remote that looks like one of those "recorders" from Star Trek.  Beam me up, Scotty.

I've been walking a lot here, on the eve of Christmas.  I have to, as I have been eating a lot.  People keep sending us food in the mail.  I'm trying to eat as much of it as I can but really, people, I can only handle so much.  The other night I ate 90% of a bag of some sugary chocolate covered pretzel kind of thing that one of my legal assistants gave me that was supposedly made by kids at a local elementary school.  It was my charitable duty.  I woke up this morning and could barely move. The other night I worked my way through a 10,000 gallon tin of butter, cheese, and caramel popcorn that someone sent.  The next morning I woke up and my feet would barely fit in my shoes.  I need to stop this.  Oh, the things we do for Christmas.

My aunt called me six times yesterday.  The boys are on the roof again.  That 'bong-bong' music.

I think I probably should buy a new car, come to think of it. I want a big one this time, with leather seats that I can easily slide my ample backside around in, making ingress and egress easy, and I want a big attenna on it, one that whips back and forth when I come to a screeching stop at a traffic light.  I want a car that stands up when you hit the accelerator.  And I want a jarring sound system that can make short work of the rap music thumping form the car one lane over.  Is that cool, or what?

I also took off work for a few days and put up the Christmas lights.  I put white lights in careful geometric patterns, in perfect concentric circles, on the trees in my front yard.  Lots of them.  Actually, I just threw them on the trees, haphazardly.  My wife helped.  At first she tried to help me do it somewhat carefully, seeking full coverage, but then we gave up and simply threw them all over the branches.  They look pretty good.  I used white lights in front so as not to offend the neighbors, and real Christmas lights in back, where only we can see them, you know, the colored ones.  Wow, it looks great. I even put in some twinkling ones, in the backyard of course.  In my piece of suburbia colored lights are taboo.  Forget about the giant lighted candles in the yard.  Growing up, we put orange-lit candles in our windows, so I come by it naturally.  We figured out later that the candle manufacturers put orange bulbs in the candles because nobody wants them (except us) and so they sell more bulbs of other colors.  We eventually got blue candles.  We showed them. Ha!

I put candles in the windows too.  Every night I turn all 7000 of them on, and off, at least it feels like I do. It takes forever!  The things we do for Christmas.


Some redeemed Mayan is laughing in Heaven.  I wasn't prepared for the end of the world anyway. I haven't done my taxes. Grrr.

Last year I got Retro Ranger Mints in my stocking,  like Altoids for park rangers.  I wonder what Santa will bring this year?

Yesterday I battled the traffic, the 10,000 cars (I like big numbers) that were in the turn lane for the mall, just so I could eat lunch with a friend.  11:45.  No wait at the restaurant.  I sat down, ordered ice tea, and worked my way through a loaf of bread.  After waiting 20 minutes, I received a text.  He asked if we could move the location for our 12:30 lunch.  12:30???  No problem.  I got nothing to do.  They gave me the bread and tea free, and I walked out, navigated 10,000 more cars in exiting, and went to the shopping mall up the road, where I circled the parking lots several times looking for a narrow spot I could slide into.  I made it.  I was so worked up I ate another loaf of bread. 

I've been listening to a lot of Christmas music.  I have to tell you, I have just about had enough of it, from Sufjan Stevens' "The Christmas Unicorn" to The Best of Amy Grant Christmas (I think she cut about 4000 Christmas records.)  My favorite: Rosie Thomas' (a/k/a Sheila Shaputo's) three-song Christmas EP.  Seriously.  Wearing it out.  But I'm telling you right now: On December 26th it's over.  I'm going to compile a best of 2012 Christmas and consign the rest of it to digital purgatory.  


Today, I read this: ". . . and the government shall be upon his shoulders."  I'm glad for that.  In all the stuff of life, I'm glad that Someone bigger than me and the smart people over me is in charge.  Because I can't fix my aunt.  I can't fix Christmas.  I can't fix the fiscal cliff or my physical cliff.  I can't stop doing stupid things like rear-ending a car.  But He can fix all that.

I might, however, buy both a new car and a bigger TV.  My wife had the temerity to ask why I needed to buy a bigger TV.  She just wants one that works.  If you have to ask, you just don't understand.  It's a self-evident truth.  Men and TVs.  Men and cars.

Well, that's some of the important things I have been working on here, on the eve of Christmas.

Oops.  Gotta go.  My aunt's calling.

Merry Christmas from Outwalking.