Merry Christmas

Twas two days before Christmas, and in the back room
I sat with my laptop In my Fruit of the Looms
Reports I did author, and published with care
In the hopes that my Inbox soon would be bare.

The children were screaming, my wife lost her head.
Because at 4:30, they’d all left their beds.
Now, at 10:30, I tilted my cap.
And leaned my chair back for a late morning nap.

When out on the lawn, there arose a big SPLAT.
I fell out of my chair, and screamed, “What was that?”
Away to the back porch I ran in a hurry.
Tripped over one child, watched the rest of them scurry.

The sun hit the gleam of the new fallen dew.
Made the yard and its contents seem shiny and new.
I thought to myself, “I’m glad we moved here.’
Then my wife said, “Come in, please. You’re half-naked, Dear.”

I looked to my left and squinted my eyes
Then stumbled straight back, with quite a surprise.
What then did my wondering gaze soon achieve?
Halfway up our tree was my drunk neighbor Steve.

He pushed on the branches, and the boughs starting swinging
Sung carols so loudly, my ears started ringing.
He rolled and he fell to the ground nice and quick.
I knew then for certain: I hated that prick.

He danced and he shook and he caused quite a scene.
Then Steve turned vomited, all chunky and green.
He rose to his feet and toward me did run.
I thought to myself, “This won’t be much fun.”

Steve said as his hair and the vomit were mixing.
“To Spread Christmas Cheer with your family, my friend!”
I said, “You dumb shit. This thing’s at an end.”

He walked up the steps, put his hand on both walls.
My foot kicked him squarely, straight in the balls.
He fell to his knees, his eyes they rolled back.
HE said, “That was hard. I felt them BOTH crack.”

AS day turned to night and his drunkness wore off
Steve reached for some Bourbon. I started to scoff.
A wink of his eye and a turn of his head
Soon gave me to know there was still much to dread

He sprang from the room and let out a whistle
Then flew from his house like the dawn of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight.

New Year’s Eve

Back when I was a younger man (with hair … and the mistaken belief that I knew everything … and did I mention the hair?), New Year’s Eve was my favorite holiday. Christmas was mostly fun, and it certainly ranked. The Fourth of July was also fun but too hot for my taste. Halloween and St. Patrick’s Day were basically the same thing as New Year’s Eve: an excuse to dress like an idiot and drink enough to justify the bad decisions I already planned to make.

You might think they’d blend together, but New Year’s Eve was different. It had the big countdown and the dropping ball in Times Square. Plus, if there was enough mistletoe leftover from Christmas, there was always the chance I might get to kiss someone at midnight, provided they were like me and had consumed enough alcohol to justify bad decision making (this was well before I was married. And the person I was always trying to kiss is now my wife, proving once and for all that persistence trumps good looks and personal accomplishments nine out of ten times).

We don’t go out on New Year’s Eve anymore. It’s hard to do when you have kids (and the “it’s hard to do when you have kids” line works well when your friends ask why you’re staying in and you don’t feel like saying you’ve grown fond of a 10:00 bed time and anything more than a glass or two of wine gives you a nasty headache the following morning). This year, we had a couple friends over to play board games. We stayed up to watch the ball drop and comment about the strangeness of “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” now that Dick Clark has passed away.

As the clock on the screen counted down to zero, I got to thinking about time and how much things changed in 2012. Time moves almost imperceptibly, so slow we don’t often notice. The face you see in the mirror might look the same to you every morning, but go back to photos from five, ten, or twenty years and that face might look different.

“I used to think parachute pants were cool?” you might say, laughing at yourself.

Or maybe … “I was still in high school back then. I was so close with everyone in that picture, but now I can’t even remember their names.”

Or maybe even … “That was before the divorce. Back when mom was still alive, and we lived in that house on the cul-de-sac with the big tree in the backyard, and my kids still smiled a lot and laughed at all my jokes.”

Time moves so slow we don’t often notice. But it still moves. And when it finally piles up on you – in pictures, in videos, in moments next to the television wondering what happened to Dick Clark – it can make you laugh, it can warm your heart, it can shock you, and it can even make you cry. Time is an old, bald cheater in the Game of Life, as Ben Johnson once said, and he does his best work when we’re not looking.

But not at New Year’s. Time can’t touch us then.

There’s an abundance of hope at New Year’s. That’s what I like about it. It’s infectious.  All the mistakes you made last year are wiped clean. You get a do-over, a new slate full of hope for what’s to come; a kind of semi-Jubilee. I think we could use more of that in our lives. Stuff piles up from time to time and it’s nice to set it down occasionally, and walk away. If we could occasionally wipe the slate clean for ourselves and each other, we might be a bit better off. I’m an optimistic person, more or less, so I like that.

Here’s hoping 2012 treated you well. And, if it didn’t, here’s hoping 2013 is better. Here’s hoping you got your Jubilee or at least a chance to change your perspective and find something great for yourself, your friends, your family and everyone in your life.