03 Jan Taking Down the Decorations

I used to laugh at people who still had their Christmas decorations up in April. But, older now, I understand how that happens. Who wants to take down holiday decorations? I resist it every year until Jill compels me to start. Actually, she starts, then I follow. She started yesterday. Putting up decorations the first week of December thrills me with the season’s promise — receiving gifts, celebrating frequently and to excess, and eating anything I want because no rules apply until after New Year’s.

Taking down the holiday ornaments kills that festive mood with a sudden finality. The now-unadorned rooms are stark reminders of new business in the same old world and it seems we’ll have to wait awhile until more fun comes around. New Year’s resolutions loom. Jill has asked me to clear the junk off of the treadmill in our basement. I’m resolved to take the vitamin supplements my nutritionist brother sent me. And maybe this year I’ll learn how to operate my smart phone fully.

Holiday story 1: Shortly before Christmas, we passed a sidewalk Santa clanging his bell and shouting holiday greetings in front of Sam’s club in one of Baltimore’s suburbs. Jill, a counselor at Healthcare for the Homeless, said, “That’d be a good job for one of my clients.”Then she did a double-take and said: “That IS one of my clients!”She’d been trying to track him down for weeks. (The homeless are hard to track down, as you can imagine.) She talked with him for ten minutes. And he promised to come in for his next appointment.

Holiday story 2: Jill and I went to Philadelphia for a couple of days after Christmas. The minute we drove into town, I wanted a Philly pizza. Cold-calling restaurants from internet listings on your smart phone is like playing Russian roulette. Still, I phoned the likeliest candidate and ordered a large pepperoni to go. When we arrived at the pizza place, it was a hole in the wall, popular for slices, not full pies. We soon learned why: they offered only extra large pizzas. One quarter of the pie filled a large pizza box. The server stacked one quarter pie on top of the other, two per box, and we walked away with the equivalent of four pizzas. So we drove around and looked for somebody who could use a meal. We found three unemployed men sitting on a bench in front of an old brick building that could have been an employment agency. I rolled down the window and called, “You guys want some pizza?” Who doesn’t want pizza?