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December 25 1997, Thursday


h, Christmas, a Christian holiday celebrated as a matter of tradition in my family. My parents never told me there was a Santa Claus, and they never said anything about Jesus. Christmas was, instead, a rare, cozy bit of warmth and generosity hidden in the shortest days of the year. It was a good holiday, but mostly because there was something in it for me. My material wants were addressed with little expected in return.

A few days before Christmas, I'd have an anxious feeling. I couldn't wait until the big day arrived, when I'd get that special something that would, I was firmly convinced, make my life completely complete. To reciprocate, I'd go through the motions of making a bird house or something equally trivial for my parents, and maybe I'd get my brother a cheap paperback about Stalin. But the holiday was never about anyone but me.

Through the years, of course, the relevance of Christmas dwindled away. Now it's just a second Thanksgiving. We don't even bother to cut down a pathetic little Virginia Pine (Pinus virginiana) as we used to. And the presents are mere tokens, a few cans of nuts and pairs of socks.

But Christmas as a concept has left an indelible impression on the circuits of my brain. Sometimes in the early stages of a romance, when I'm making out with a girl, when I'm being granted exclusive access to hidden secrets which come as bewilderingly cherished gifts, I flash back to an idealized Christmas morning from childhood. There is no other experience that prepares you for the intoxicating joy of lust.


  spent most of the morning loading software on Hoagie's (my mother's) Macintosh. In the afternoon, she finally managed to get through to CFW, her ISP, and I began downloading some especially large files. As I did so, I found myself reading a book about the Boston Marathon. My mother had bought the book because it contained a great deal of material about her father, Clarence DeMar. I was mostly interested in reading about DeMar's personality quirks. He was, you see, widely regarded as a cantankerous eccentric, and many of his responses to adversity seem similar to my own. I'm convinced that there is a strong genetic component to the way creatures react to their problems, and it is interesting to see how what may have been my genes coped with various situations in historic times. The book wasn't especially generous to DeMar; it claimed he wasn't particularly talented as a runner, but that his determination and perseverance is what made it possible for him to win the Boston Marathon seven times. Of course, if I may be so bold, perseverance and determination would seem to be essential talents in the arsenal of any would-be runner of a 26 mile race.

One thing of which I was not fully aware was the extent to which DeMar was a media celebrity in Boston during the first half of this century. According to the book, the Boston press (especially as represented by the Boston Globe newspaper) was fond of speculating about DeMar's personal life, such as what girl he should marry. Reading about it in this form, it all seemed very Princess Diana.

I do know that when I hitch hiked in New England (something DeMar did often), I could form an instant connection with older drivers simply by dropping the name of my old grand pappy.


oagie cooked cornish hens for Christmas dinner, which she served at 2pm. The hens were little chickens, but thankfully they were neither new nor manmade (a little Eraserhead reference for those of you not in the know - Jessika, the two year anniversary approaches). I ate my little chicken in about five minutes, and it was pretty filling, but there was still room for stuffing. Hoagie claimed she'd put Cheerios™ in the stuffing because she didn't have crackers or stale bread. Whatever, it was good. They don't call it stuffing for nothing.

A little more tweaking of the Mac, and it was time for a daylight drive back to Charlottesville. I was eager to return to my own little hermetic world. As I drove, I was somewhat intoxicated on both vino and champagne.


icholas the cat was very pleased to see me when I came in the door. He was hungry for some loving, going directly for my neck and doing that perverted little nuzzling thing he likes to do (I know of no other cat that does anything quite the same).

After a bath, I was feeling a strong urge to go into hibernation. A gut full of meat can have that effect sometimes. I napped until 8pm or so.


hen I awoke, I found Deya downstairs with various elements of her Christmas loot, including a VCR and, like a thin slice of cyberpie, a cockatiel who she intends to name Wilbur. Deya says the cat and the cockatiel have yet to bond, but, as she sees it, at least Nicholas is no longer at the bottom of the potential food chain, now it's Shira-Nicholas-cockatiel.

Tonight we started training the cockatiel to speak. We want his first words to be "doo dee doo."

I notice that my scanner gets into a weird mode every now and then where it wants to scan everything in shades of cyan. This caused me some problems as I worked tonight on the Big Project.

I went to bed again at around midnight.

one year ago
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