On the 8th Day of Gheorghemas, Big Gheorghe gave to me . . .
Seven Books for Reading
Five gooooals / things
Four legal mic drops
Three critters and an otter
Two names for naming
And a fat guy in a jer-sey
I had to check the lyrics to "The Twelve Days of Christmas" to see what Day 8 was all about, but in retrospect, I'm not sure why I did this, since the Gheorghemas posts never allude to the lyrics of the original song (Two Names? Three Woodland Animals and a Cool Little Otter? Is the G:TB Staff even trying?)
If you are ignorant like me, the eighth day of Christmas features "eight maids a milking," which sounds kind of sexy, but when I searched "eight sexy milkmaids," I got a whole lot of nothing. I did find one (fairly) sexy milk maid, but she's nothing to write home about and could hardly sustain an entire Gheorghemas post.
Further research revealed that the "eight maids a milking" actually refers to the Eight Beatitudes from the Gospel of Matthew. "Blessed are the meek" and all that. Total kibosh on my sexy milkmaid post. So I will give up on the busty farm girls, and instead give homage to the Golden Rings (which may either refer to the first five books of the Old Testament-- the Torah -- or to five ring-necked pheasants).
To make things even more ambiguous, in some versions of the song, the eight maids a milking are "ladies dancing" or "hounds a running" or "hares a running," so the lesson here is that it's anything goes as far as the lyrics (and that the G:TB Staff got it right after all).
One thing about the song is certain: Frederic Austin is the guy who came up with the prolongation of the phrase "five golden rings." That is by far the most memorable part of the song. Good job, Frederic.
As many of you know, I am not a big fan of the Christmas season, and I don't think it's because I have a Grinch-like streak. My problem is that if you are a relatively successful American, then every day is Christmas. We have plenty of food and plenty of possessions, and we don't need an excuse to consume even more. If the holidays were truly only about friends and family, then they would be tolerable . . . perhaps even kind of fun (but a bit tiresome for an introvert like me, who is perfectly content to limit my socialization to my Thursday night pub outing and one weekend event, plus a bunch of kid-related shit). But the holidays are NOT simply about friends and family. They are about shopping and decorations and Black Friday and wrapping paper and traffic and full parking lots and guilt over not getting a good present for your wife and driving around like a lunatic to several locations in one day and gaining a bunch of weight because people bake butt-loads of cookies and then bring them to work.
But I'm going to try to forget about the stuff that makes me angry, because there's nothing I can do to stem the tide of this unstoppable wave of unnecessary consumption. Instead, I am going to focus on some things that are awesome in my life right now, day in and day out. Things that make it Christmas every day in my world. And when you say it, don't shake it like a polaroid picture . . . prolong it like Frederic Austin.
Eight Awesome Things . . .
1) My wife.
As the years pass, I keep getting hairier (except for my head, of course). Meanwhile, my wife is still sexier than eight maids a milking, and she's also a great cook. Quite awesome.
2) Playing sports and games with my kids.
Coaching my kids can be torture. The practices are chaotic, and it's better not to watch the games to closely. One of my sons is a space cadet and the other one can be downright mean. But -- and this is awesome-- my boys are always up for doing something athletic and/or competitive: basketball, soccer, RISK, snowboarding, extreme sledding, chess, Settlers of Catan, tennis, catch, throwing a rock at a tree, whatever. You name it, and they'll do it at the drop of a hat. I consider myself very lucky in this regard, because playing sports and games with the kids has become "my department." It keeps me active, and makes parenting tolerable. And my wife usually handles checking the homework (another reason she is awesome).
3) Friends and family at the beach.
Though I'm more mountain person, happy to put on headphones and hike or snowboard, I have learned to appreciate the beach, for social reasons. Most summers I take three trips to the shore -- one with my extended family, one with some good friends, and one to the OBFT. The beach is an awesome place for me because if I ever get sick of interacting with people, it's perfectly acceptable to go swimming or paddle-boarding, or even to sleep or read a book. Plus, I'm fucking awesome at cornhole.
Pandora is good. Spotify is better. But Rdio has got me excited about music again. It inspired me to do some research and buy an awesome pair of computer speakers (Edifier e10 Exclaim PC speakers). Rdio combines the best features of Pandora and Spotify, and it privileges the album instead of the song/playlist. I'm an album guy. Plus it's got this great little five dot continuum when you create an "artist station" -- you can adjust it from "Artist Only" to "Adventurous."
5) My Kindle
I still love taking out books from the library, because I am cheap, but there's nothing like having a book on the Kindle. If I can't sleep, I can reach into the darkness, find it, open it, and I'm reading. No book light necessary. No complaints from the wife about the rustling of pages. If my eyes get tired from a marathon reading session, I can make the font bigger. And I can bring lots of books on vacation without increasing my encumbrance.
I know I'm a bit behind the times, but podcasts are awesome. My favorites are Freakonomics, All Songs Considered, This American Life, 99% Invisible, Dan Carlin's Hard Core History and Radiolab. Podcasts have made long car rides bearable (in fact, I started on my podcast jag on the way to the last OBFT), and they have made me love walking the dog (but not picking up his steaming hot feces).
7) My job.
Specifically, teaching a Shakespeare class. Though I hate plays, I love Shakespeare. While there are plenty of annoying things about teaching -- the early start time, the students, the grading -- there's nothing like getting paid to watch Ian McKellen be Richard the Third. These are tough economic times, and I find it fairly awesome that I have a job at all.
8) Three Way Tie! The Hey Gheorghies Trope, Good Beer, and My Dog!
Any Australian bloke who still says American beer is "fucking close to water" is fucking nuts. There are so many good American beers that I have trouble drinking them all. Although I love Dale's Pale Ale, there are a few that I like even better. I'm a big fan of all the varieties of Southern Tier Brewing Company, and the same with Green Flash. Long Trail Limbo IPA is awesome, as is just about every kind of Smuttynose, and if you can ever get some Switchback from Burlington, buy a case of the big bottles.
Though the Park Pub is a local dive that opens at 7:00 AM, Pete always has Troegs Hopback on tap (along with some kind of Long Trail and something German, usually Spaten). I find this awesome, and so I can usually stay up far past my bedtime on Thursday nights, which leads me to how much I love the "Hey Gheorghies" trope . . . almost enough to tolerate the name of this blog. Not quite though.
And when I get home late from the pub, though the rest of the house is asleep, my faithful dog is there to greet me. Though having a dog can be a pain in the ass -- you can't travel at a moment's notice and picking up chunks of shit in the dark in sub-freezing weather is nobody's idea of a good time -- but there's nothing like taking a nap on the couch while your loyal companion guards you from all threats . . . and though the saber-tooth tiger has long been extinct, you know that your dog doesn't know that, and that he's ready to defend you from whatever dangerous mega-fauna rears its ugly head, and that is an awesome thing.