Monday, November 30, 2009

The Mad, Mad Race to Christmas

That crazy time of year!
by Charlie Leck

The loveliest weekend of the year is gone again. The quiet calmness of Thanksgiving is a wondrous gift that human beings give each other. I found it a restful, pleasant time again. It would have only been improved if my friend, Fred, had been here to prepare and carve the turkey. As good as our bird was, it was far short of the accomplished way Fred both roasts and presents a turkey feast. He is very much a gourmet in his tastes for food. The man knows good food well.

Crazy that Fred has such sensitive tastes for food but doesn't care what wine he guzzles down with it. He swears by the boxes of wine he can pick up at Walmart for 3 or 4 bucks. I played with the idea of making a photograph of a box of wine look alluring and tasty. It would take a genius, I guess. I present my humble results here for you. The photo originated in Fred's kitchen. The loaf of bread was made by his own hands. My improvements make the bread look exciting, but not the wine.

Now we move into that really crazy time of year. The time that I call "the race to Christmas." The gorgeous wife is frantic already, urging me to put lists together and to begin racing from store to store for this gift and that one. We've made out massive checklist of all the folks for whom we wish to buy. It is of the size of a major corporation's end-of-the-fiscal year spreadsheet.

"What about Christmas cards?" She asks with little hope in her voice.

"Too late," I say. "We can't possibly get cards and get them out now. Too much to do."

She's got her eye on a Christmas tree already. It's uncut and she's negotiating it's purchase with an innocent owner who did not intend it to become someone's Christmas tree; however, in this area, as in so many others, money talks.

Four of the six kids will be here and so will the mother of one of our sons-in-law. Maybe my sister-in-law, too. Stockings will be hung for everyone and Santa has been ordered (not requested) to fill them to the gills with lovely this and thats.

Thanksgiving and the days leading up to it seem to be lazy, lovely days of anticipation and all the focus is on the dinner spread -- the feast -- and the table on which it will be laid out. These days leading up to Christmas seem much more like a race -- a mad, mad, frantic race that one can only lose and never win. Yet, here I am entered once more in said race and wildly wrapping gifts and making checklists and preparing boxes to be shipped to various places in the country.

For Fred I'll purchase a couple of good bottles of a nice French wine and send them with some splendid lamb chops and and a small roast. Fred won't let the season get him all riled up. He's in a good mode these days, determined to live out the rest of his days peacefully and he's tuned into the good and important things around him (with the exception of the wine he drinks).
There are lessons to be learned from Fred; and I'm trying to learn to measure the really worthwhile against the completely unnecessary.

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