For two months, all of November and December, we celebrated the holidays. There were decorations, food, family, laughter, fun, anticipation, togetherness, fireplaces, hugs, and gifts.
Did I mention desserts?
November was filled with excitement and anticipation as we looked forward to Thanksgiving.
My wife starts taking her Santa Claus figurines out of their boxes in the storage closet shortly after Halloween and little by little I see them appearing on shelves and tables and the mantel above the fireplace. The baker Santa goes in the kitchen, the Santa and the Christmas tree above the fireplace, the Irish Santa in the great room, Santa and the children in the foyer. They all bring back memories.
Thanksgiving decorations come out in November as well and it isn't long before baking begins. Our home is filled with incredible aromas of bread and pie and finally simmering turkey. They are smells that mean home and family to me – and about 10 additional pounds.
The day after Thanksgiving our children and grandchildren join us to put up our Christmas tree that stands 13 feet high. It used to be a real tree until it fell. But that's another story. And generally, we don’t talk about it.
After Thanksgiving, Christmas lights outside the house are turned on and decorations, some of which come from to my childhood, are carefully placed in their traditional locations.
From that point on it's a month of anticipating and enjoying Christmas and then New Year's Eve and New Year's Day and the hope and promise for what lies ahead – not to mention the hope and promise I have for my favorite football teams.
I make New Year's Resolutions. But I do a lot more hoping than promising when it comes to New Year's resolutions.
Through January 1st there is wonderful food, lots of family, love, and laughter.
Then January 2nd arrives and what does that bring? Taking down the tree and all the decorations leaving the house looking stark and bare. The family is gone. The bills arrive. The weather is gloomy and cold and it won't change for another two months.
January is resolutions for exercise and diets. We can only hope that our problems in 2015 will be as short lived as our resolutions.
And the month after the Thanksgiving/Christmas season is also something else. It's the height of the cold and flu season.
We go from two months of festivities to two months of feeling like death.
Everywhere I go right now I run into people in various stages of colds and flu. The whole community is crawling with viruses.
I try to be careful. When I go to the supermarkets and get a grocery basket I wipe off the handle with a disinfectant towel.
I'm addicted to hand sanitizers. Every time I see one I sanitize my hands. I try not to breathe when I'm around other people. But the whole process is hopeless.
Everyplace we go we are set up to come in contact with flu and colds.
Pharmacist: "Here is your prescription. Now take this plastic pen and sign right here on the machine in the box."
Me: "So you want me to use this instrument attached to this credit card machine to sign my name?"
Pharmacist: "That's right."
Me: "But this thing has been used all day by people who are coming in here to get prescriptions because they're sick. This pen is full of viruses. If I touch it I'll probably come down with the flu before I even get home."
Pharmacist: "You can pay with cash."
Me: "And then you'll give me change that has been handled by hundreds of different sick people today."
I've started carrying Kleenex that I can wrap around these things to sign the credit card bill. I'm beginning to feel like a Howard Hughes without any money.
I'm retired now and try to stay away from crowds. But when I worked people used to come into my office during the flu season.
Me: "You look and sound terrible."
Co-worker: "I know. I can't shake this thing. My head is stuffed up, I can't breath, I barely have a voice and I'm exhausted because I can't sleep at night."
Me: "Don't touch anything in my office."
Co-worker: "Well, I'll try."
Me: "Also try not to breathe."
Co-worker: "But we have a project we have to get done."
Me: "Let's put it off until April after flu season. It can wait."
The other day I was going out to run some errands and I said goodbye to my wife.
Me: I'm going to leave the house for a while. I've got some things to do. "
Wife: "Okay. See you later."
Me: "I'd like to kiss you goodbye."
Wife: "That would be nice."
Me: "But first I'd like you to sign this document that you have not experienced any cold or flu symptoms in the past 48 hours: no runny nose, sneezing, aches, pains, stomach problems, fever, headaches, stuff like that."
Wife: "I'm not going to sign that. I feel fine. When we were young before we were married you used to consider kissing me worth the risk that you might pick up a few germs."
Me: "In those days I was young and could fight off germs."
Wife: "I should ask you to sign a document saying you aren't sick."
Me: "I'm sorry, if you are not willing to sign the document I can't kiss you. How about if we just shake hands."
Wife: "Do you know how many germs are spread from hand to hand contact?"
Me: "You're right. But when I leave the house I want to do something to show that I love you."
Wife: "And I think you should."
Me: "Okay then. I'll send you an e-mail with one of those kissy faces attached to it."
Wife: "I can see that once again being romantic is not on your list of New Year's resolutions."
That's true. I've tried to resolve to be romantic and that is usually over by the time I forget Valentine's Day.
But trying to stay healthy is a resolution I can keep.
All I have to do is lock myself in my room until April.