Saturday, January 9, 2010

I Think I Would Like To Use A Lifeline

Happy Simple Arithmetic Day! Can you believe that we have already kicked the decade's first full week to the curb? Admit it - it felt pretty damn good. One down and.......well, that calls for advanced arithmetic and since I went to law school in large part to stay away from hard math (and also because before I could embark on my career as a professional BS'er someone insisted on a degree being earned) that is going to be someone's task to perform.

I am endlessly amazed by the alacrity with which time moves. Christmas (you remember Christmas right?) was more than two weeks ago already. I must confess that it seems even longer ago than that. Maybe it is just the cynic in me but it strikes me every year that the air seems a bit colder and the world seems a bit edgier in the immediate aftermath of Christmas. It is as if the whole "bringing tidings of Christmas and a Happy New Year" endeavor is either just a lot of jive or - even worse - so antithetical to the way in which we view one another during our "non-Christmas" day-to-day that we throw it off as fast as we can and as forcefully as we can. In the holidays' wake every year there seems to be a lot of hostility found under countless trees and on countless highways and in countless offices.

When I was five (OK - 12) I remember asking my father why it could not be Christmas every day. I cannot recall his exact answer although I am fairly certain it included a "Damnation!" and a reference to me as a "gonif". Apropos of nothing, I did not discover until years after my father died that one of his go-to phrases in moments of utter exasperation likely did not mean what he believed it to mean as gonif is a Yiddish word whose primary meaning is thief of scoundrel. I remember laughing until I cried when I realized that as expansive as his vocabulary was he had most likely misspoken every time he called me that (and my older brothers before me).

Presuming my recollection about when I broached the subject of Christmas Ad Infinitum with my old man is accurate, then his reaction would have been not only not surprising but also well-founded. I am the youngest of six and although we are fairly well compartmentalized into two subsets of three age-wise (Kara, Jill and I are within four years of one another and there is at least that large a gap between Kara and Kelly. Mom and Dad were going to name me, "Oops!" but feared how hard it would be for me to live my life with "OK" as my monogram) Christmas was a bit of an undertaking in our home. When I was a very small child, Mom was an at-home mother, which meant that 100% of the household income came through Dad's labors. Four decades into my own life I still have no ability to fathom how he pulled off what he pulled off.

Dad's answer as to why every day was not Christmas had little to do with an explanation of the intricacies of the Bankruptcy Code and everything to do with expectations. I remember him telling me that if every day was Christmas, then little children would have nothing to look forward to; it would lose its significance and it would become "just another thing". Advice by the way that ABC should have heeded years ago when - attempting to seize upon the Who Wants to Be A Millionaire? phenomenon they tried to cram Regis Philbin down our collective gullet over and over and over.

And I do not doubt for a second that Dad was right - at least with regard to the whole "another day, another toy" end of the analysis. But I think he and I both misunderstood the essence of the dilemma. It seems to me that the question is one of how to keep THAT feeling (and you the feeling about which I speak) alive for more than a couple or three weeks every December.

Damned if I know. Do you?

-AK

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