December 29, 2004

Home from the holidays

Round two of the trifecta has officially ended, on as cheery a note as this season offers me.

When I'm going to spend time around a tree, my cousins -- first cousins once removed? second cousins? whatever you call the offspring of my favorite first cousin and his wife -- are the children I want to watch opening their presents. They make the holiday worth celebrating. The seven-year-old still believes in Santa Claus.

In Maine, presents from Santa come wrapped in different paper from any other gifts, which helps foster the illusion. Also in Maine, all of the dressed houses are decorated with white lights. (I could ponder why, but I won''s too easy.) It's a far cry from the part of Florida where my brother used to live, an area where my favorite decorated house featured a front lawn with eight dolphins outlined by multicolored flashing lights.

Given that the entire population of Maine is less than that of the island on which I live, it amazes me that the supermarkets are the size of city blocks, jammed with a year's worth of food and wine and all manner of goods not found in similarly named establishments in my metropolis.

Still, while chez mes cousins is a lovely place to vacation, I wouldn't want to live there. For one thing I would need an automobile, an item I have never purchased and rarely rent. For another, I would have to drive the damn thing, and snow-covered roads and I are barely on nodding terms. Here, the roads don't stay covered for more than a couple of hours at most, depending on traffic. While I have no trouble navigating on foot, according to my friends -- and I must concur -- everyone is better off when I am not at the wheel.

Staying out of the driver's seat is one of my gifts to the public at large, along with my having quit smoking -- for which I do not think I have been justly compensated. These facts alone assure me that Santa Claus, alas, left the building before my age hit double digits, his annual float at the Macy's Day (trifecta holiday 1) parade not withstanding.


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