A portend is what it was, really. A sweet talisman of what was to come.
My morning routine in the holiday mania ramp-up was simple. As the Christmas swirl swept into tornado proportions, I clung to my same-olds. Stop in at the Broad Street Joe Van Gogh's for the first hot cup of the morning and pick up 10 pounds of day-old grounds for the chickens.
Later that evening, I dumped that special trashbag at their feet and out came surprisingly odorous, technicolor joy.
Joe's always cheery barista elves had been making their once-a-year brew of Pumpkin Spice Chai in dawn's wee hours, and their aromatic cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves concoction filled the coop. I wondered if the next day's eggs would taste sweeter. Couldn't tell you either, because the next two weeks were a sugary blur of banana bread, Christmas cookies, hot cider, too much coffee and chocolate and too many desserts. Worthy fuel for the 12 days of Christmas.
The delicious shock of that rich chai smell set the tone for going with the flow amid all the season's curve balls. You just never know what's around the corner. And it's best to find out. You know—fear not, and all that.
Flipping the family calendar from '08 to '09 was liberating. There was December, a total crazy quilt of deadlines and wondrous events. Here is January, a tabula rasa of opportunity stretching into the unknown. At the kitchen table one morning, my wife and I sat down with school schedules, game dates and doctors' appointments, grabbed colored markers and plotted the grids. What fit where, who goes there, here a carpool, like a Monopoly board. Jump on the transition bandwagon honey, picking up passengers coast to coast!
At one holiday gathering, we were remembering favorite children's books. Did that woman really say her kids loved Whales on the Bus? I remembered a broken lyric. Another person said their son wanted to read Fear and Knitting in Las Vegas. He had heard Hunter S. Thompson was pretty cool. But fiber arts cool? It must have been the eggnog. I rolled with it.
In a loud restaurant, I was having a rowdy conversation with an old friend. He was saying another friend was a real "warrior." Really? That wasn't the first word I would think to use to describe him, but I was impressed by his holiday generosity to his fellow man. I needed more of that. We were both engaged in the conversation but also looking around, watching the big screen, grabbing gummy treats off a tray. He was going on about what our buddy had been up to. Didn't sound real warrior-like to me, but I kept nodding. Our conversation kind of went off the rails.
On the way home, I got to thinking. No wonder there was such a disconnect; he had been saying our friend was a real worrier. That was when I had my epiphany; my first 2009 resolution had percolated up. I am going to be a better listener.