Roger Marolt: Roger This
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Of course I am looking forward to the daylight hours stretching out a little longer; just not right now. I am looking forward to the end of the hustle and bustle of the holidays; just not yet. It’ll be nice to get the living room back after all the wrapping paper is picked up, all the new gizmos are stuffed into the closets, and the seasonal decor is packed away in the tattered, attic-conditioned, dusty boxes, but what’s the rush?
I love Christmas as much as I dread New Year’s Day. I have always thought it sad that we say goodbye to the best time of the year with a hangover and a conscience weighed down with promises that we, deep down, have no intention of keeping. I like the idea of trying to stretch out the celebration of the season by scheduling bowl games past their natural expiration dates. It’s something I would have done if I were in charge and because of that I give the directors of the BCS an “E” for effort (I say “E” because an “A” would bring up thoughts of school too soon for the kids). Yet, watching college football after the 12 drummers simultaneously pound the last beat strikes a hollow chord with me.
Yes, I know the true meaning of Christmas, and I buy into it whole heartedly. A babe who would be king was born under the humblest of circumstances with the purpose of saving all nations and leading us, without a sword, to The Place that makes listening to the Vienna Boys’ Choir’s rendition of The Messiah at the Mozartium on Christmas Eve sound like Scrooge’s fingernails scraping across his own slate headstone under the hood-hidden gaze of the Ghost of Christmas Future by comparison. I believe in this loosely interpreted version of The Meaning as it was taught to me as a tot, and I carry it in my heart every day of the year. Nonetheless, I miss the season when it’s gone like the reindeer food the kids scatter over the snow before heading to bed on the Silent Night.
Give me a break. It’s not about the gifts. I’ve got a closet full of wide-wale corduroy slacks that cinch just below my ribcage and a drawer full of penlights that attach to book covers so I can read the wee hours away while my spouse slumbers in her ‘kerchief, ignorant to the fact. Like most adults I buy what I need when I need it and thus receive for gifts those things that are bought in exasperation when there isn’t a minute left for the giver to beat themselves up any longer over not finding the perfect thing. It’s not the thought that counts; it’s the suffering and mental toil that I know has been sacrificed in selecting these trinkets that endears me to their givers. I appreciate it and pray they know how much I love them for the torment.
It’s not about the food, either. Of course I love the cakes and cookies and glazed ham as much as the next glutton. There are few things that make a baker you love feel better than rudely heaping on a second helping in the plain sight of everyone. And, there is no denying that overeating makes trips to the gym these cold December afternoons all the more pleasurable, trying to offset not only the damage that has been done but also as a preemptive strike against that to come. I have the routine down to a science of the Fireside Lounger; a half-hour on the Stairmaster at level nine is the antidote to an eggnog laced with a heavy shot chasing three thickly iced reindeer cookies down the gullet.
Don’t get me wrong. I like the extra days off of work and the more relaxed attitudes prevailing when I am behind the desk. The longer I am in business the more satisfying it is to call somebody I desperately need year-end information from only to learn that they are out of cell range and won’t be back in the office until the 4th. Good for them. And, good for me the next time I’m lying face up in the sand on a remote Caribbean beach wearing nothing but trunks and a thin coating of -5 SPF coconut-scented oil while they are desperately trying to get hold of me.
Certainly this is all part of why I love this season, but it is much more, too. There is quiet awe in the nights at a time when, if it were summer, we might be teeing off on the first hole or flicking matches at lighter fluid-soaked barbecue briquettes. When it’s dark and cold at five in the evening, your soul allows your mind lots of latitude in wandering, knowing your body is cozily anchored to home, helping with dinner and listening to the kids keeping their gift-giving secrets. We feel small this time of year and the world big and cold. We have to stay close to be warm while the sizzle and pop of a fire keep oddly good company with us. Through this darkest time of the year we manage not only to survive, but find incredible joy. Its source is the promise that we live for. Although it never goes away, it is easier to spot this time of year and for a change it is nice to see the obvious ahead of time.
At this time of year we know the truth. We love and are loved. The sun will rise a little earlier tomorrow and set later each successive day thereafter, and each time this truth will appear more like a dream. That’s why I am not in any rush to take the tree down.
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