Al Batt: Winter is result of griping about summer heat

Published 9:47 pm Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Tales from Exit 22 by Al Batt


I can’t help thinking about tater tots.

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This is a wonderful world.

Especially since tater tots were created in 1953. Tater tots enhance my existence. An uncle told me he’d crossed a potato with a sponge. The taste wasn’t that good, but it really sopped up the gravy.

“Winter will be here soon,” said someone who wasn’t me, knocking the tater tots from my mind.

“Soon? Have you been outside lately?” That’s what I wanted to say, but I stifled that urge. Instead, I recommended thinking before throwing that first snowball. I think our years have a meteorological winter, often defined by meteorologists to be the three calendar months with the lowest average temperatures. This corresponds to the months of December, January and February in the Northern Hemisphere.

The talk of an approaching winter did bring a frightening realization. There are fewer shopping days until Christmas today than there were yesterday. I did the math. Math is an elusive concept, so I had to use all my fingers and toes. Winter and Christmas go together like Elmer and glue, but if it weren’t for the ubiquitous radio and TV commercials, newspaper ads, catalogs, greeting cards, wish lists, Christmas music, lights, Santa Clauses, trees, wreaths, ugly sweaters, mistletoe, lawn and church displays, plays, red and green colors, candy canes, poinsettias, holiday wishes, wrapping paper, bows, ringing bells, manger scenes, choirs, movies (especially “A Christmas Story” and “It’s a Wonderful Life”), candles and reindeer droppings, a person wouldn’t have a clue that Christmas was coming.

Christmas means shopping. I can’t give everyone the heirloom fruitcake that has been in the family for generations. Shopping makes me sing like Little Richard on his worst day, ”A-wop-bop-a-lupa-a-wop-bam-boom!” That speaks volumes. About what, I’m not sure. I’ve listened to songs with lyrics that made so little sense they almost made sense. Have I done my Christmas shopping yet? I have, of course. A long time ago. But not for this year. I do buy Christmas gifts. My wife does the bulk of the Christmas shopping because she’s better at it. I’m like many men. You mention shopping to us and we get the look Batman gets if someone tells him that the Joker isn’t a bad man, he’s just misunderstood. You can’t please all the people all the time. Especially those you give Christmas presents. If I do surprise myself and give someone a good gift, they think my wife had purchased it. It’s only fair, I suppose.

I use my shopping-free time to wish for a nice winter. I want more than I deserve. Winter is like that relative who comes for a visit and stays too long. We’re happy to see him come and even happier to see him leave. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Snow is in the beholder’s shovel. Winter is inconvenient. When winter isn’t stopping you, it’s chasing you.

A friend told me that her husband turns on more lights than he needs and never turns off a single light. Old Man Winter is like that. He turns on our coldest season, but forgets to turn it off. It’s a long winter when it gets to where you don’t care if the temperature is in Fahrenheit or Celsius.

Winter makes indoorsmen out of outdoorsmen. Winter is nature’s way of saying, “Read more.” Snow falls. So does the temperature. Warm thoughts are required. The weather is either too cold or getting ready to be too cold. I stuck my nose outside and it came back with a Bird’s Eye sticker on it. Winter raises temperatures to a new low.

Our most gentle winters can be hard to live with. We have winters you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy. Winter can move from magical to miserable at breakneck speed. Winter needs more commas, but resist the urge to fast-forward the season. Join a club to take your mind off the weather. I belong to the Blizzard of the Month Club, but I get all 12 installments during the winter.

We pull our winter complaints out of storage. I try not to kvetch, but the neighbors have started a petition to stop me from asking, “Cold enough for you?”

Winter is when a sunny day or an above freezing temperature brings joy to the multitudes. Albert Camus wrote, “In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.” I hope you find that.

Enjoy the season. I double-dog-dare you. Both winter and Christmas will be here before you know it.

You know that.

Al Batt’s columns appear every Wednesday and Saturday.