This is a chapter from my book, Postcards From Across the Pond, (I have mentioned that I wrote a book, right?) and I’m reprinting it here because A) I care about you, B) I want you to see what you’re missing by not having bought my book yet, C) I don’t have anything else prepared right now, and D) I get a giggle every time I read it (yes, I am my own best fan).
So have some holiday cheer, sleep in tomorrow, nurse your hangovers and get your sorry asses ready to hit the ground running on Monday for the beginning of 2010.
Has anyone else noticed that sleeping with your secretary at the office Christmas party is a perfect metaphor for the Holiday season as a whole? I didn't think so, but hear me out anyway.
First there is the overall event, filled with glitter, good cheer and lots of drunken hugging. Add to that the pervasive promise of presents, the excited expectation of secrets soon to be revealed, and you're practically bursting with excitement when the affair finally comes to a head. Then, in a brief, orgiastic frenzy, everything is unwrapped and opened, fondled and forgotten or eaten and drunk until, sated, you look around at the evidence of your excess and feel a rising sense of guilt. You begin to wonder where your resolutions vanished to and now wish the whole thing would just go away and let you get on with your life, or at least stop calling you at two o'clock in the morning in a weepy, drunken stupor.
(Allow me to state, for the record, that I don't even have a secretary and have, therefore, not slept with one; I am making these suppositions based on the observations of those people who do and did.)
The accumulation of days now pushing Christmas further and further behind us serve only as a nagging reminder that, A) it's now merely winter, and B) I haven't taken down my Christmas decorations yet. We're currently entering what I like to call the underbelly of the year, that ragged seam between the festive season and the arrival of spring; a time when getting up would be the hardest part of your day provided the rest of the day wasn't so crappy.
All of this is the long way of saying I have those mid-winter blues, and, while I have often remarked (to the irritation of those I left behind in the Great White Northeast) that winters in England are nowhere near as harsh as they are in upstate New York, they are God-awful dark. In addition to that, the British climate makes full use of what little cold it does produce and has, through centuries of diligent practice, long ago perfected the art of seeping into your bones and sucking your soul out through your nostrils. (Even so, I still wouldn't trade a winter here for one in Albany, but I wouldn't mind swapping with someone in, say, Barcelona.)
Winter in England means evening, like an inconsiderate dinner guest, arrives several hours early, when you're dusted with flour, making the hors d'Oeuvres and haven't stepped into the shower yet, while Dawn, the little tart, doesn't sneak in until most responsible people have already started their day, and even then can't be bothered to offer a suitable explanation. The few daylight hours occurring between these events tend to be muted by low clouds, dispiriting drizzle and the occasion, sad attempt at sleet.
And, to make things worse, all around me I see remnants of the erstwhile festive season--languishing decorations, dead, discarded trees and rubbish bins overflowing with shredded ribbons, crumpled wrapping paper and empty beer bottles--which, like the aforementioned secretary, seem determined to hang around even though they no longer have the capacity to inspire joy and serve only as a reminder of our brief, and perhaps misguided, frivolity.
I guess that means I've come full circle and, though I still have more to say on the subject, I suppose I ought to let you off so you can get back to the business of enduring winter. Besides, I think it's about time I took those decorations down.