If you are reading this, it is now too late to finish up your Christmas shopping. No, your packages will not get there by Christmas if you put them in the mail today. I wouldn't bother to decorate the tree at this late date if I were you. There isn't even time to bake a batch of cookies. Face it. It's all over.
This realization, when it dawns, often floods the holiday planner with relief, causing her to collapse into the nearest La-Z-Boy recliner, eggnog in hand, as the elusive and much-sought-after Christmas spirit, absent until now, fills her with a mysterious bliss. Never mind the poinsettias, however you pronounce them. Out of Scotch tape? Forget about it. Anything you failed to achieve by the Christmas deadline will not get done this year. Oh, well. At least now we can all relax.
The ice storm that is still going on as I type this has certainly foiled the plans of many last-minute shoppers. Maybe Christmas Eve will be better. Yesterday, on my way to work, I ran into Keene town Supervisor Bill Ferebee at Stewart's. He said that he and Jay Supervisor Randy Douglas had been out in the wee hours checking the AuSable River, which was in danger of flooding. The town of Keene was all right, but Jay was encountering some ice jam problems.
"You're brave, to go out shopping in this weather," I told a young man who came into the store soon after I got to work. Automobiles, sidewalks and parking lots were all glazed with a thick layer of ice. For safety reasons, I had considered crawling from my apartment to my car that morning, but vanity prevented me from messing up my outfit.
The customer told me that he was a NYSEG employee, flown in from Vancouver to assist with expected power outages from power lines downed by the ice storm. Thousands of crews had been dispatched to the North Country to drive line trucks, he said. The situation in Essex County wasn't as bad as predicted - only about 34 buildings without power - and he hoped to be home by Christmas.
After he left, I looked out at the ice-covered yard and street and tried to picture how the scene will look in spring. I planted more than 700 tulips last October, and it was hard to imagine them in place of that Arctic wasteland.
I did it, though. I visualized a sea of tulips, waving in the breeze, all budded out and ready to burst into bloom. It was sort of gloomy in this mental picture, though, and the streetlights were on. Oh, no! In my mind's eye, an endless procession of white-tailed deer filed into the yard, one by one and two by two, grazing among the tulips, daintily biting off the buds and swallowing them, every last one. No, they left one lone tulip to bloom, its gaudy petals making a mockery of all the hundreds of topless stalks.
I told Samantha, next door, that I was worried about deer eating the tulips come May.
"Why don't you imagine buffalo?" she suggested. "Make it more interesting."
She has a point, I suppose. It doesn't help to worry. Still, if I don't worry about the future, I feel that I'm not doing my part.
In a recent column, I criticized Toronto Mayor Robert Ford. Now that it's the end of the year, and I have had the opportunity to see him on television many times, I admit that I have grown fond of him. I admire him for being so merry, while also being ignominious. When asked, on camera, whether he has smoked crack or committed some other indiscretion, he replied, "Probably, in a drunken stupor," as if drunken stupefaction is a pretty good excuse. We watch him lurching around someone's living room, uttering threats and imprecations - he says he will poke his enemy's eye out and kill him - and then, on subsequent occasions, we find him dancing and singing with a gospel choir in a church, and again at city hall with a number of people who look like town employees.
I don't believe I have ever before described someone as capering, but Ford does caper merrily about, despite adversity. Adversity of his own making, mind you, which is the most difficult kind of adversity to overcome. Ford's spirit is apparently indomitable. You won't catch him worrying about deer eating the tulips.
Have a good week.