There is a reason why someone out there took the dark and mysterious pagan festivals in the middle of winter and wove them with the Christian ones to create Christmas.
Just pause for a minute to think of December without Christmas, of a month as bare as the trees and a pale wind that whips through your bones. Then imagine no holiday, no turkey stuffing or presents and no chance for a good family fight.
Normally by about now a great existential crisis sweeps over me and this December is no exception. I am going through the motions. I am competent but the great ideas were left behind in some warm haze. In middle age even the lures of clandestine meetings and warm contact is dulled. I think of the glassy eyes of professors from so long ago, of how their great writings were so at odds with their wretched spirits.
Perhaps too they realized the leaden nature of December and the inconsequential nature of the layer of glitter on the foul smelling grey shore lapped by the river. Ha - for this is no Victoria Falls or mighty Amazon, but a brackish river that flows behind the identikit houses. One day years ago an engineer looked proudly on at his dull retention pound behind the gleaming roofs of the homes that are now discolored with age. The engineer is long gone, his obscure name occupying a small plaque on a bench where the kids smoke joints and feel each other up.
Still I wonder about our bench and if you ever think of it and occasionally on the footpath I stop to look at the cool inland waterway and the back yards, with my hand resting on its back. Then I think about dialing the number but your name in the directory gives me pinpricks and I put my phone away.
Instead I go on and the pattern becomes a to and a fro, an in and an out, through the tunnel and into the city with a quick glance at the cranes and back again. And beauty and its pale thin curves fall further away from my mind as if I am recalling someone else's life. Still I think of a gold dome and the thin blue sea and the smell of the lemon grove on the cliffs. Then I imagine myself a specter among the lemons suddenly light and free of December.