It’s the 20th of December and I still can walk outside without a hat on. Other than a freak flurry in November and a dusting three days ago, winter has been hiding under a cloak of Fall weather. It’s strange and unsettling.
Last winter they were talking about the people buried under the drifts in Russia who’d “fallen asleep” (or kipped over drunk after drinking too much vodka to stay warm) that wouldn’t be found until the thaw. This year I’m hearing about grumpy bears who can’t hibernate in Siberian zoos because it’s too warm and the same heat is making the tropical birds get crazy horny, thinking it’s Spring already.
No wonder the holiday cheer has been slow taking hold. On a good day I dislike crowds, but Christmas shopping is the worst. As I get jostled and nudged, cut-off and cut-in front of, my shoulders start journeying up to my ears and every muscle tenses and I fight my basic desires to eliminate my sources of frustration. Those who receive presents from me may already be aware of my coping mechanism: I shop drunk. It’s the only way.
I can admit my faults. I am not calm when among large masses of people. I get aggressive when slow people are in front of me, or worse if they stop and stand in the middle of foot traffic, causing a clog. I have to fight the urge to hurl insults at those who commit the ultimate crime of shopping downtown during rush hour with their twins in a side-by-side baby carriage. (To those who do this, hear me and take my advice: pick a favorite and put them in front.)
In San Francisco I was delighted when Nordstroms opened a bar in their upper floors where I could retreat, regroup and charge again into the horde to shop until I dropped. It is the only way I can shop without dropping someone else to the floor with a swift cut to the hamstring. So Christmas in Germany seemed a dream match for me when I got here. Here everyone drinks and shops! Glühwein stands are everywhere, ready to provide shelter and reprieve from the craziness until I was ready to go out in it again.
But drinking Glühwein in warm weather just feels wrong. My nose isn’t cold, my fingers still have feeling in them when they grip the mug and you don’t have to rush drinking it down because it stays hot a long time. Because it’s warm outside, and it’s wrong. Deeply deeply wrong.
I’ve had a harder time this Christmas season. With my husband away I’ve had to go shopping alone. That’s alone and sober because who wants to stand out in warm weather and drink hot wine alone? This and post issues have affected my game severely this year.
But it’s almost done now. The weather has finally begun to show signs that Mother Nature may not be quite ready to melt the polar ice caps, at least maybe not until next year. Oliver arrived on Saturday. It’s been nice to finally have cold weather outside and not just one, but two warm bodies to snuggle with at night. Last night Fergus wedged himself between us on his back, paws in the air, purring so loudly I thought he was snoring.
Today is my last day at work. Tonight we drop Fergus off for his first overnight with a kitten-sitter and head to Austria for a quickie wedding before swinging back through town to pick up the little guy and then we fly to Bremen for the holiday.
And for a little extra Christmas cheer: I just found this great link to all my childhood favorites!
That’s it for a few days. Merry Festivus to the rest of us!