Alexandria, VA – The precious (circle one) Channukah/Advent/Christmas/New Year’s holiday, etc., we just enjoyed allows us the opportunity to realize what’s important in life and what we need to adjust and improve for the future.
Once the chaos of the season dies down, presents have been opened, enjoyed, or returned, relatives departed for their places of origin, and the skeletal remnants of Christmas trees hauled unceremoniously to the curb, it’s time for the dismal job of repacking all those outdoor lights and decorations and relegating them to the basement or attic to await another year.
This usually includes light bulbs that burned out, decorations the cat smashed, miles of tangled extension cords, holiday yard displays that look as if Rudolph was ridden hard and put up wet. Some go the way of the Christmas tree. Others, out of pure exhaustion, are just stuffed into storage boxes, their future to be determined next year.
Then the drudgery of returning to work is upon us, and that little window of opportunity to stop and reflect on the past year is gone. The radiance of the season is dimmed for another year and we enter what was affectionately referred to by Naval Academy Midshipmen as “the Dark Ages.”
Despite the gray fog that descends each year, I find a peculiar sense of joy and wonderment as we enter the dark ages.
I am particularly thankful to see the end of the Medicare Enrollment Season. Hey, I’m a senior citizen, too, and at this stage of my life, it’s essential to have my medical care in order. But the sheer volume of commercials reminding me that “the Medicare enrollment season ends December 7th” nearly sent me to a therapist in a panic.
The constant fear-espousing narrators got me so unhinged that I called my healthcare provider to make sure I didn’t have to do something to ensure my benefits didn’t vanish at midnight December 7th. Since that day, I have developed an aversion to anything Jimmy “J.J.” Walker, Tom Selleck, Joe Namath, or William Shatner might peddle. After his flight, I didn’t care what Shatner had to say about his Jeff Bezos space adventure into the final frontier.(1)
Remember when Congress outlawed decibel-splitting commercials being aired? That was actually legislated once upon a time. Commercials had become so loud that while watching a particularly touching moment during, say, a Hallmark Christmas program, a blistering Ford commercial would pierce the night air and cause near-coronaries in elderly citizens.
That regulation was to protect us from aural assaults, and it seemed it worked for a while. Then when we weren’t paying attention, corporate America, clearly looking out for our best interests and ensuring we couldn’t miss a great “holiday deal” or “special low-interest loan,” began sneaking the volume up a slender notch at a time until we were back at 1980s decibel levels.
Another blessing of the dark ages has to be the shift from commercial ultimatums, get-‘em-while-they’re-hot, order NOW, Black Monday specials, BOGO Free, and other holiday media assaults to return to more moderate and “regular” commercial spots on television and streaming media. The Department of Defense may have outlawed waterboarding, but corporate America has perfected a new form of torture — commercials — that makes China look bush league in comparison and are championed by business and government alike.
Traffic is another blessing of the dark ages, when sense and sensibility returns to the highways and byways of America. The frenzied dodge-car roads are returning to a more manageable or blissful state. The weather also helps calm things down as the dark ages take control. Our frenetic maneuvering starts to return to normal.
This past holiday season was marked by a massive spike in holiday travel. Mixed in amidst the iPhone ads and the donate-today PSAs were those ever-present talking heads on CNN and FOX warning us to wear a mask, get a booster, and avoid big groups during the holidays.
Despite the sage warnings about coughing, sneezing, singing, laughing, and partying being ripe breeding grounds for the next iterations of COVID, the crowds grew and, wouldn’t you know it, those medical prophets were proven correct. The Oracle said that holiday get-togethers would prove a boon for the COVID bug, but we, as a society, said we didn’t give a Figgie pudding. We may have missed Christmas 2020, but by God, we were going to mingle, quaff, sip, slurp, laugh, hug, kiss, and graze away to catch up on lost time, the medicos be damned. (2)
The media took the holiday season seriously and reflected it in their coverage. Courtrooms were abuzz from November until the New Year. The streets of Georgia became quieter and safer for joggers with Ahmaud Arbery’s killers brought to justice. New York enjoyed the 2022 ball drop and the bomb drop when socialite Ghislaine Maxwell got nailed for pedaling minors to business tycoons, sports figures, entertainment celebrities, and even royalty. Her expertise in recruiting raw talent was highlighted in court, and she has been properly rewarded for her perverse enterprise.
And finally, Wisconsin has provided a real boom for the gun manufacturing industry that has endured a poor financial decade since Sandy Hook. It’s become trendy to provide private security protection for your local emergency medical personnel and first responders.
There is one final blessing of the dark ages. Our wallets can give a sigh of relief. Calm has returned to our account balances and now we can look forward to tax season – just in time for spring. The hits just keep on coming.
(1) I have also boycotted “Magnum P.I” and “Good Times” reruns on Antenna TV. Dyno-mite!!
(2) I’m not sure who in the government names pandemics. They must be the same Gs-14s or contractors that name hurricanes, typhoons, and tropical depressions. Nobody with a lick of creativity would have named anything Delta or Omicron. What the hell is an Omicron? At least no one suggested Omega.