Things To Consider
Maybe I should put up something Christmassy to celebrate. I am not in a bah humbug mood, although it is difficult to tell from the decorations I do not have in my apartment. My preparations have been nil and although I feel pretty good about the world and my place in it, I also realize from past experience that not decorating, that not doing something special at least for myself, is playing with fire. Fire on the holidays. There's enough fire on the holidays. So I'll do one thing today to this end: I shall move the boxes away from the fireplace and I shall build a fire in it tomorrow after I buy some wood, some eggnog and some brandy to break it in. Not too much brandy and not too much eggnog, but eggnog, none the less, warmed on the stove, brandy added at the last minute so the vapors rise and caress with a sneeze. Or a snort. A coupla snorts.
I mentioned I began reading the collected works of Saki on the train to Seattle two weeks
ago. Saki aka H.H. Munroe was born in 1870 and died of a sniper's bullet in 1916. He's best known for his short stories, very short stories, actually, stories of English upper class manners with a sharp cut your fingers without realizing it edge that stings just as you finish. Saki reminds me of P.G. Wodehouse, who must have been influenced by Saki, but Wodehouse went (rather brilliantly) for a broader, gentler parody where Saki was somewhere out in front of the Bernard Shaw set going for the jugular, but, as I said, nicely and with talent. Last night I read one of his novels, a relatively short novel that started out in a drawing room, not a P.G. Wodehouse slapstick drawing room, but a story set in London that moves inexorably to its not very happy but infinitely believable finish. "The horror, the horror!" In Saki's world, you needn't travel to Africa to find it.
The mother who becomes estranged over the years from the son she loves, the son who looks at his life at its end and realizes if he were given the chance to live it again, even if he were given this knowledge he was now taking to the grave, he would run the same course into the same lonely oblivion, a Saki vision, perhaps, of inexorable fate built into the genes. The young woman who realizes she has avoided a terrible marriage to this very same son, but also realizes she has chosen an even more sterile and lifeless marriage as a consequence. The book is populated by the acerbic and clever living lives of unspoken tragedy, tragic, perhaps, not so much because they had no choice in course of their existence (Well, we do, but how many have the courage?), but tragic because they never had the eye to see or the imagination to understand other possible values and other possible outcomes when they were presented.
I finished Saki this morning. Wrong book, perhaps, for Christmas. Called and talked with my
sister and mother in Portland. I'm feeling better. Go out and buy the papers around 11:00, read them over coffee with a Cranberry muffin at the cafe near the lake, check out a pharmacy I thought might be open to buy something my sister recommended for painful joints brought on by exercise (walking). It wasn't. Open. I'll check again tomorrow. Feed the cat some of the no fish in it wet cat food. This is Christmas. We can go back to the get well wet cat food on Monday when I'm away at the office. I'm not being good to Wuss, I am being good to myself. Wuss is now out on the balcony sleeping in the sun instead of discussing lunch with me as I sit here writing. I will call it a Christmas present for my cat, but I know it's for me and my own selfish comfort. Ah, you see, I have nibbled at the shadow, if not quite the spirit, of Christmas.
Another Christmas, only now I'm writing all this down so I can read it in the
future and notice the lack of, um, soul nourishing activities and ribald celebration. Eggnog and brandy are a step forward, perhaps, even if I miss the Day by a day and drink it alone in front of the fire. These are, I suppose, things to consider.