It seems to me that the stretch of weeks comprising late fall and early winter is the most stressful, anxiety-filled, and just plain uncomfortable time of the year.
Those beautiful scenes of early autumn with nature’s awe-inspiring displays of ripe corn and beans and colorful foliage have given way to barren fields and leafless branches reaching upward like gnarled fingers. Warm breezes have turned into numbing, frigid blasts and gentle showers have become icy rain and snow. The blue sky with puffy white clouds is covered with a lead-colored overcast that will prevail for weeks on end with only a few breaks. How depressing – especially when coming on the heels of the most enjoyable season – late summer and early autumn.
This is also the time of year when those nasty respiratory ailments set in – you know, the sneezing, coughing, running nose, sore throat type of “bugs” that hang on week after week. Sure makes a body feel miserable, particularly when these “bugs” are seemingly immune to treatment. And to top it off, we just might come down with the flu or pneumonia which can be life-threatening for us old-timers.
Not a pleasant prospect to look forward to.
In addition to these physical “downers” we have to face other aggravations that arise this time of year. One we kinda wrestle with each year is who we should send cards to. We try to recall who sent us cards last year so we can respond this year; who we sent cards to last year; who we didn’t but should have; and who should be newly added to our list. Then, too, there’s the question of which type of card is appropriate – one with a religious Christmas message or one with a generic “Happy Holiday” theme.
This problem may appear to be trivial, but sending a Christ’s birthday centered card to a non-Christian may be considered an affront while a “Best wishes for the holiday season” message to a devout Christian would be inappropriate. Makes a body wonder if sending out cards is worth the trouble, but not sending them out would bother us too. Just a no-win situation.
One of the best known features of this time of year is the frenetic surge to buy gifts – which brings on a whole different set of stresses and anxieties not associated with any other season. Trying to figure out which present would be appropriate for which person is troubling enough but along with that dilemma is locating the particular item, that is, which store or online merchant actually has the article with the desired specifications. Guessing at size, color, or model can be distressing at best.
Would gift cards or cash be acceptable for this person or is an actual gift required? Then, too, is the very real concern about allocating available funds among the various recipients without running up a huge debt. Yep, the whole concept of gift giving is chock-full of apprehension about making the right choices.
Ok, so what else makes this time of year cheerless and depressing? Well, for us football fans it’s the realization that the optimism we had at the beginning of the season has proven to be mainly misplaced, that is, the teams for which we had great expectations have mostly failed to meet our hopes. Oh, sure, football is only a game, but for those of us who really enjoy the gridiron contests having to accept a season that somehow eludes anticipated performance sure dampens the spirit. And the time worn adage “Just wait until next year” provides little comfort.
Sure looks as if this time of year has no redeeming qualities, right? Well, that’s not quite correct. As winter tightens its grip we can make adjustments to the elements – including enjoying the sight of a snow blanket covering the ground, bushes, and trees. You know, there’s something about having a nice fire in the fireplace and looking out at the first snowfall of the year.
Then, too, this is the time of year when we hear traditional Christmas carols ringing from church carillons and even in some stores although commercial enterprises more likely will settle for “Rudolph,” “Frosty” and “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire.” Regardless of the particular style of music, the atmosphere can be uplifting – but “Rudolph” gets a bit grating on the ears after the hundredth time.
Although “the reason for the season” culminates in Christmas Eve services celebrated in churches with readings from scripture, carols, and often closing with a candle-lit singing of “Silent Night,” Christmas is truly for everyone. And so, as we struggle through the unpleasantness that comes with this time of year, we can look forward the cheer and joy that comes with it – including the forty or so post season college football games. At least that’s how it seems to me.
Bill Taylor, a Greene County Daily columnist and area resident, may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.