St. Patrick’s Day is a weird little holiday. We celebrate the Patron Saint of Ireland (who wasn’t Irish) for driving the snakes out of Ireland (he didn’t) by wearing green (his official color is blue), getting drunk (typical holiday shenanigans) and wearing lots of tacky plastic crap that will eventually end up in the trash (typical normal day shenanigans).
Is anyone excited about football anymore? I’m only trying to be a little bit funny here. COVID took away all the good things about it. No in-person attendance meant no getting drunk in the parking lot, no eating your weight in nacho cheese, no buying the latest in crappy souvenirs your team saw fit to slap their name on. All football fans could do was watch the game at home and share their trash talk with their 45 Twitter followers. Oral surgery sounds more appealing. At least you get drugs and free swag out of that deal. My medicine cabinet is full of top quality dental floss and travel toothpaste.
But at least we still had the Super Bowl to look forward to, is what I assume you told yourselves. Even if you’re not a fan of either team, watching the two teams that clawed their way to the top battle it out is a thrill all football lovers can enjoy. Personally I’m only in it for the commercials, if only half-heartedly. They’ve gotten way to commercial the last few years, like they’re focused on selling you stuff instead of trying to win awards.
But almost as punishment for daring to get our hopes up that 2021 would be different, it turned out to be an embarrassing, confusing mess. But it wasn’t all The Weeknd’s fault. You just can’t expect a Canadian raised on ice hockey to have the same passion for such a slow, boring sport as an American. Of course by the time he went on Kansas City had decided that if COVID wasn’t going to let them throw a sweet victory parade, then forget it. So the game limped along to its foregone conclusion, the players, owners and advertisers all got richer, and they lived happily ever after. As for everyone else, they turned their attention to the NBA and swore things would be different this time.
We’re one whole week into 2021, so it’s time to gather our courage, take a deep breath, and step on the metaphorical bathroom scale to see how we’re doing so far. Let’s not get too nervous about it though. If there’s anything good to say about 2020, it’s that it significantly lowered the bar for 2021. Any improvement at all would be a cause for celebration. Hell, as long as we can say things haven’t gotten any worse we can bust out the champagne and cookies without guilt. This time, “good enough” really is good enough.
So, let’s get started. January 1st we sat on the couch all day watching Netflix and enjoying some post-holiday decompression. That was Friday, so we ended up with a three-day weekend. Off to a great start! On January 4th we went back to work, but everyone was still kinda in holiday mode so we spent most of the day just getting our shit together. January 5th we started getting our groove back, with a big helping of optimism and hope for the new year. So far so good! Now on to January 6th…oh, fuck. FUCK.
Goddamn you, 2021.
Sometimes it feels like 2020 is messing with us the way we mess with our pets. Who hasn’t pretended to throw a ball and laugh as their dog dashes around looking for it? Or driven their cat insane with a laser pointer? Or thrown a blanket over their parakeet’s cage to shut them up? After ten months of this shit show, it feels like we are the parakeet and 2020 has thrown a blanket over our cage. Maybe that’s why I only just realized that Christmas is next week.
You’d think a pandemic would take some of the pressure off Christmas. We finally have the perfect excuse to avoid the stress of the shopping malls, travel and family gatherings that we bitch about every year and have the holiday we’ve always wanted – a quiet celebration at home with the only people we can stand enough to live together under the same roof. The silver lining we’ve been desperately wishing for has finally arrived, right?
Fools! Did you really think a virus that’s killed more Americans in one year than all four years of World War II is any match for the intense pressure and guilt of the holiday season? The Christmas lights MUST go up! Gifts MUST be exchanged! The good linens MUST be fetched from the attic! No, not THOSE linens, the ones with the poinsettias! What do you mean they’re NOT there? Well I can’t look because I MUST cook dinner for the ten relatives who insist on coming over! I am so BAD at enforcing boundaries!
In fact, why am I still writing this post? Those gingerbread men aren’t going to decorate themselves! If they could do that I’d be too busy fighting in the inevitable Gingerbread War to blog. Why are you still here? Get busy already!
Try as it might, 2020 cannot keep good things from happening, including Halloween. It’s the one holiday where you can’t keep the spirits down, much like Rush Week at [insert your alma mater], amirite?
This year I entered and won a Halloween short story contest! The prize was $100, and not to brag, but that will keep me in ramen and tap water for quite some time. You can read it here: https://www.everywritersresource.com/winner-bedtime-by-dansans/
And now, in the spirit of Halloween, I have a treat for you: Exclusive access to the unpublished works of an award-winning author! Below are the other six spooky stories I submitted to the contest, available only to the readers of my blog. Looks like we’re all winners tonight. Congratulations, and Happy Halloween!
The icy well water clung to her like an anchor but she wouldn’t give up, painstakingly searching the stones for a firm grip before pulling herself up a little more. When her fingers finally curled over the top I stomped on them hard. I love the splash she makes.
I never wanted a cat. I always thought that if I fell and broke my neck a dog would run for help, while a cat would wait for me to die and feast on my remains. Turns out I was wrong. Mittens didn’t wait for me to die.
It was beef stew night. My husband took one bite and started gagging. He collapsed on the floor, face turning red, twitching and gasping for air. I waved the peanut oil over him and said, “NOW who can’t take a joke?” Trust me, your honor, it was hilarious.
I study Tyler’s drawing. “What’s this?” I ask, pointing to a brown smear.
“Baby birds,” he replies, smiling.
I pause. “What happened?”
“They got smooshed.”
“Tyler…is this our backyard?”
“Enough drawing,” I whisper. “Who wants ice cream?”
He squeals with delight, shooting chills up my spine.
This fly is driving me crazy. Circling my head, filling my ears with his annoying buzz. Somebody please shoo him away before they close the coffin.
Now he’s sitting on my eyeball and the flames from the incinerator are creeping in. Looks like we’re going to hell together.
Sometimes a person needs a push to find his fortune, Dad said when he kicked me out. Today, as I stand overlooking the majestic valley, I finally get it. The insurance money that is. My wife’s broken body lying on the rocks below is a beautiful sight.