It’s the thought that counts, and sometimes the memory

The other day, it was nearly the anniversary of the birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and while it isn’t that day yet for me, for those reading this column now, it is.

By the magic of anticipation and literary telepathy, I suppose I’m getting a little Christmas experience now, as I write. At least I hope that’s what that burning sensation is.

So Happy Holidays, and you’re welcome for your present. I think 2011 is supposed to be the white Christmas of which we (and Bing Crosby) dreamt; I hope this gift came wrapped for it. Otherwise the wet snow is probably making my words runtogetheronthepage.

Now, they say it’s the thought that counts, and that’s sometimes true, but only when the thought follows behind some really good and worthwhile gift.

“I thought I’d get you the complete recordings of Winston Churchill’s speeches,” doesn’t mean a whole lot when you actually hand over a used DVD of “Booty Shakers 9,” because all the stores were closed Christmas Eve and it was on top of your television. Even when you swear you don’t know who left it there the night before.

(I’m sorry, darling. Believe me, or at least start answering my texts.)

And thinking of a really good gift doesn’t do you any good if you don’t get any of your friends anything. The excuse that you don’t celebrate Christmas because you’re not Christian, or if you are Christian, don’t celebrate it because it’s originally pagan, or if you’re pagan, don’t celebrate it because it’s become entirely too materialistic, rings hollow when all you did for the past month was sit in your apartment in your boxers, scratching yourself while you watched re-runs of Law & Order (the Michael Moriarty-era was best). And I mean this entirely as a hypothetical.

As a childless adult, it’s not that I have anything against Christmas, but it’s become somewhat less encompassing and more intrusive in recent years; the two months of music is the best example.

Still, I admit to being more than a little disappointed that I can’t fully appreciate this year’s fulfillment of the Christmas ideal: fluffy-soft white snow, decorations abounding, wrapped presents, family and familiar themed-music. I’ve always harbored a resentment at the Northeast for crafting the popular images of the season and making me suspect something lacking about what we tend to have in West Texas.  This year might dissuade that.

The snow melts here, faster — usually — than most places, and we’ll be glad for the melt this year to help undrought the thirsty earth, but the snow will be gone soon, as soon as the dust can slurp it up. No trace, even in the shadowed grass. No sign but shared recollection.

(As snow, things; as things, people.)

As François Villon asked, “But where are the snows of yesteryear?” He meant something different, but he makes his point in that everywhere but Antarctica we can ask this question and find the same in result, if not process.

So many things happened in these 12 months, locally and abroad. It’s been a momentous year, a mundane year, a great year and a terrible one — as always. But all things in it are melting away. Most of us will be as glad to put it behind us now as we will be fond to look back on it after all events have long melted away.

But gifts come from many places, and are sometimes as good for what they remind us of as what they are, or were.

Merry Christmas, and Happy ___ Year. New, old, and otherwise.

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