Holiday Baubles

I have a Christmas obsession.

I spend most of the year looking forward to it, and on December 26th, I promptly mourn its loss.

This year, I assumed I would go through my KOST depression once the 24/7 holiday tunes were over, and I was mostly wrong — which was nice. Fortunately, they had a decent playlist of songs ready to serve up: The Eagles, Billy Joel, Dido and OneRepublic kept my spirits bright (but not as bright as when bells on bobtail ring). Yes, I could dust off a holiday CD and cheat if I ever felt the need for winter festivity, but I try not to.

Each January, I mentally take a deep breath and gaze out over the year ahead, breaking it up into easily digestible chunks of time to get me through to the next time I’m able to shamelessly (read: without being judged by neighbors) decorate for Christmas again. February brings dad’s birthday, March is my parents’ anniversary, April is Easter, May is Memorial Day, June begins summer, July has the Fourth, August is — well, gnarly and sweltering, September gives us Labor Day, October brings Halloween, November gives us Thanksgiving and the day after Thanksgiving is when I can officially begin Christmas at the casa.

And today, a whopping two days into January, additional milestones have found their way to my brain like little stray elves trying to be helpful: a mid-summer wedding to look forward to (not mine, just to clarify), a bike trip through Vermont in October, my sommelier certification course in — I think — November, and let’s not forget wonderful things like new playwriting courses in March or April, tax refunds in the spring and the Red Bull US Grand Prix up in Monterey during July.

All of this just to speed ahead to December.

Today I was taking care of things that required mailing, and I realized I was nearly out of stamps. I decided to pop over to the post office and use their new-fangled ATM-stamp-dispenser-thingy since a human being wasn’t available. When I reviewed the stamp selections, I was overjoyed to see that the only normal stamp option was one called “Holiday Baubles.” Since I don’t mail much, I decided to get two books of stamps (seems contradictory, no?). In my mind, there’s a weird bit of comfort in knowing that the little stamp books I was holding in my hand would accompany me through the year till next Christmas. Maybe one would grace a Christmas card that I’ll endeavor to mail out in 11 months’ time, and I can look at it while remembering this warm day in January when they were purchased.

After the post office, I went to the car wash where I realized that the guys there who have always been so helpful are also a bunch that I’ve managed to develop a bit of rapport with. Instead of just handing me my carwash ticket and making small talk, the main guy who I always see when I first pull in spotted my crutches and wanted the low-down on what I did to myself. And when my car was ready and I began my crutchified limp over toward it, the other man who finished it saw me, hopped in the car and backed it up to me — all to make my journey to my driver’s seat a little shorter. He, too, asked what I did to my knee, helped me load my crutches into the back seat, and shut my door for me once I was situated.

So, as I reflect on today, I thank you, Universe, for making the only regular, selectable book of stamps-for-purchase a holiday-themed one, and for a new year that brought a new dimension to my bi-weekly carwash experience. It was a nice reminder that warmth exists not only in the crackle of logs in a fireplace, but also in people — and that the little reminders of the season can journey with us through the year for as long as we want them to.

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