December Forever

     It’s going to be Christmas before we know it.” I uttered those words to my wife back in July as we sat on the sofa on a hot summer night complete with chirping crickets and barely a breeze.

     The five months that passed feel more like hours than days. 

    December’s arrival hit me like a ton of bricks. Like the bricks that line my barely used fireplace. December floated in on a blanket of white, covering us with an early season snowstorm before we had a chance to put the Thanksgiving decorations away.

    My holiday season got off to a shaky start when my son announced he needed a babysitter for the weekend. He was going out of town. His wife was working. My wife was working. I was chosen to take care of the children by default. 

     “I really appreciate it,” my son said. “You won’t have them for the whole weekend, just Friday night, Saturday morning and Sunday afternoon.”

     I rearranged my schedule and welcomed spending time with my grandchildren despite my grumpy grandpa persona. 

     Entertaining a three and four year old is a challenge. I was exhausted by the time the children hugged me goodbye. I barely had time to recover from their visit when another visitor arrived on my doorstep – eight inches of early December snow.

     The thought of shoveling my driveway on a Monday morning made me want to repeatedly press my snooze button, but still I persisted.

     After piling on several layers of winter clothing, I dug a path to the end of my driveway. I was happily surprised to see tire tracks from a snow-blower belonging to my guardian snow angel who used his machine to clear out the wall of ice left behind by the town plow. Clearing my driveway took me a fraction of the time thanks to his help. I have great neighbors, and this particular one has been there for me on numerous occasions. He likes to keep a low profile so I’m sure he wouldn’t want his name mentioned in the newspaper (but you know who you are, Mark). 

    The two-day storm was nature’s way of letting us know winter has returned. And now it feels like it’s been December forever. The combination of exhaustion and inclement weather made me realize it was time to decorate the outside of my house with Christmas lights. My wife bought quite a few boxes of lights for our house last year. It’s one of the perks of her job at Home Depot. Along with strings of lights, she bought two giant boxes of easy-hang gutter clips to hang the lights from the roof. 

    “The box says you don’t even need a ladder,” she told me. 

     “The box says the clips attach to a special pole that you need to hook them onto the house gutters,” I said as I stood in the falling snow.

     “I didn’t buy the special pole. Can’t you just use a broom handle?”

     Well, no. And that’s why my house looks like it was decorated in the dark by elves who couldn’t reach higher than the front porch.

     After an afternoon of decorating, I thought it would be a good night to test my fireplace for the season. I’ve only used it on rare occasions. I opened the flu and lit a blazing fire. The stress of the weekend began to melt away. As did most of the smoke detectors in my house. I cleared my way through the haze to find a window to open.

    “I don’t understand this, I opened the flu!” I said.

     And in true Three Stooges tradition, my wife said, “No, I opened the flu!”

     So instead of opening the flu when I lit the fire, I actually closed it. And somehow it’s my fault for not checking. I can’t wait to see what the season brings next. I’m beginning to think Comfort and Joy are Fake News.

     This month is flying faster than Santa’s sleigh. Looking at my calendar, I see Christmas is only two weeks away. Usually by now I’m mulling around gift ideas. This year, my mind is as blank as black ice. I want to give my loved ones personal gifts, something meaningful and from the heart. I’m not sure an gift card fits that description. I’ll try to save that as a last resort. The way this season is progressing, a last resort is looking pretty good. December forever? I wish.

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