Don’t pay the ransom! I got away!

The cliché notwithstanding, I am back, and with good news, too: Christmas and New Years are over. You can take down the lights on the front of the house, carry the tree out to the street, and put the decorations back in the garage. And you can bury that awful sweater your relatives sent you at the bottom of the closet. Here in L.A., you can also enjoy not hearing that radio station that insisted on playing Christmas music ad nausea 24/7.

Don’t get me wrong: I like Christmas and New Years. I’m just not sure either needs to be an annual event. I can flip the calendar just like the next guy; I just don’t require a nativity scene and auld lang syne to remind me that 2013 has arrived. The IRS can handle that quite effectively.

Remember back when you were a kid and the grownups told you that Christmas was just for youngsters like you, and you thought, Who are they kidding? They get bigger presents than I do! If only you had known. Or maybe it’s just as well that you didn’t. It’s only when you had kids of your own that you became aware of how simple and cheap it is to wrap a bunch of toys for the tots, and foster greed in them at an early age. Toys for adults, you’ve come to realize, require serious money and actual thought.

So it is for the kids. The anticipation, the excitement, and the birth of lines like “Is that it?”

Well, and I think this year in particular the events have inadvertently revealed a perplexing truth: What’s all this about a recession? How come merchants this year opened their doors at midnight before Black Friday? You got up as soon as Thanksgiving dinner was done and hopped in the car to get to the mall early so you could be in line one step ahead of the crowds.

I guess that’s one of several reasons why I slept like a baby as Congress went through the theatrics of the “financial cliff.” I mean how can you take stuff like this seriously when the speaker of the House confronts the leader of the Senate in the corridor of the Capitol and suggests he perform self-fornication? It happened, or at least it does happen.

Anyhow, we can bid a very fond farewell to the holiday season, and give yet another new year a heartfelt effort. We now turn toward the best parts of the year when the days grow longer, fresh leaves return to the trees, we close the door on the ridiculously violent game of football, and you can leave the windows open in the house. Walks around the block begin to make sense again. And for us, sunsets from the pier in San Clemente are on the agenda.

No question, that old feeling of renewal will soon be with us. It’s a time when you really do feel younger and more purposeful, as well more optimistic. So I would suggest that the holidays, conclusive as they are, can be seen as the needed setup. You get the emotional conclusion, shut the door and open another one. Even as a kid you could see that.

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