End of year is a great time to get rid of stuff. I started by cleaning out my checking account.

Ah distinctly I remember, it was in bleak December, and each single, dying ember, cast its ghost upon the floor…E A Poe

How did it get so late so soon? Time flies from night to afternoon, then it’s flewn…how did it get so late so soon? Dr Seuss

Dear Decked Out December 2022:

December, what’s your persona? Is it jingly, singly sublime, or are you a month plum out of time? Are you about endings or timeless rememberings, gay galas or sad renderings? Are you a festive frolic or a month that bears winter’s weight, joy of giving/pain of loss, a fear of future unknowing? At what point do you quiver like a bowl full of jello? December you may be the month that best describes our 21st c pace of life. We go faster, buy, eat, drink, indulge more, and try to be creative buying gifts at ever dwindling stores. We complain about crowds, commercialization, and spending, and the glad Hallmark wishes we should be writing and sending. Will you be dashing, holding closer tiny dancers, or prancing till you get blitzed?

Some sing aloud, pronounce December the ‘most wonderful time of the year…’ Others prefer Merle Haggard’s ‘if we make it through December…’ I sometimes wondered if I would make it thru… after receiving my first robust thrashing at 7. After being told to get ready for hateful church (it wasn’t even Sunday) I remarked ‘but the kid grows up and dies an awful death—don’t wanna go…’ After several family members cried when the ‘angel got its wings’ in It’s a Wonderful Life, I casually remarked angels were made up beings, which included devils, & were modeled on Greek, Hebrew, and Egyptian myths. The ridiculous belief in angels was why women had to cover their heads. Daemons were more interesting… My books and library card was confiscated, as was a full set of encyclopedias. Another whopper whooping was narrowly avoided when I told the neighbor’s kid Santa didn’t exist—and to check under beds and in closets. My dad, ever the stickler, wouldn’t punish me for telling the truth. My mother, however, did.

Do you hear what I hear? Sometimes, I have a Dan Fogelberg same auld lang syne kinda month, recalling breakups, shakeups, and comeuppances. Joni Mitchell’s River plays those years, as does the tinkling of Charlie Brown’s piano, and Parton’s twangy Hard Candy Christmas. In a spookier vein, I que up Everly Bros Christmas Eve Can Kill You, the Kinks Father Christmas, and Nat King Cole’s The Little Boy Santa Forgot. In recent years, I’ve added S&G’s 7 O’Clock News/Silent Night and Marty Stuart’s Even Santa Gets the Blues. Otherwise, my seasonal playlist includes Lennon’s So This is Christmas, Buble’s Cold December Night, Bells Over Belfast, Gramma Got Runover, Armstrong’s Zat You Santa? and Baby It’s Cold Outside.

December, your name’s the Latin word for 10, & has many hoping you’ll be a perfect 10 of a month. It’s the penultimate month for revelers, with a festival celebrated daily: Rosa Park’s Day; Pearl Harbor Remembrance; Lucia’s Feast and sighting of Snallygaster beast; Boston Tea Party Tea Party 12/16; Krampus Fest; Hanukkah; Solstice (12/21, also National Humbug Day); Festivus (12/23);  Quanzaa & Boxing Day 12/26; Fruitcake Throwing Day; & Icelandic Huldufolk (hidden folk) celebrations for 13 elvish descendants of Ogre Gryla, including Pot Licker and Meat Hook…

On the 21st, Phileas Fogg (Jules Verne’s character), who bet he could circumnavigate the globe in 80 days, concludes his journey. Hard to believe Mr. Kringle still claims he can do it in one night. Then again, there’s this red hatted US politician that thinks he can run rings round the gullible… For those not afraid of clowns (including scary politicians) 12/9 is Weary Willie Day. Willie was the sad tramp clown Emmett Kelly created. On 12/12, get out the graham crackers and hard candy leftovers because it’s National Gingerbread Decorating Day.

Are you prepared—Santa-izer ready, mistletoe aimed straight?  Snow on and snow forth…This was the season, once upon a… when I wrote and distributed an annual naughty holiday missive to family and friends. Sometimes it was a long poem, modeled after Tom Lehrer’s snarky Christmas Follies ditty & NYer’s Sullivan, Trillin, & Frazer’s Greetings Friends. Sometimes I spoofed a corporate annual report, because there’s nothing worse than reading a Xerox letter of brags or tribulations from a distant relative or neighbor that moved a decade ago, no? Ray Stevens did a funny send up of holiday letters: Well, we still have the double wide, but Bubba’s added a boat shed, workshop, & new flamingos for the lawn. Eurlene took down the front yard tire swing—now junior’s in the pen. Looks like it’ll be a happy new year…they moved him out of death row again. Our youngest’s at the halfway house—again in the family way. The daddy lives beneath the bridge on the old 1-5 freeway. We took an unexpected whirlwind tour, but didn’t get too far, when the twister touched down at our very own trailer park…

The list of December notable events is long. In fact, some list to left or right from an excess of lists. Buy autie Inez, shaped like a sausage, Spandex; buy a subscription for cousin Lee, who says wrapping gift’s a waste of trees. Gift card for the mailman, birdseed & corn for backyard land. Last minute additions: a book by Ptolemy; and for a sibling, a much needed lobotomy. Add oysters and cranberries to shopping list, or else invited friends may be miffed… For Caribbean get away, acquire enough sunscreen for a 2 week stay. My list of stocking stuffers tips the index for consuming, and includes gag gifts for both Gen Z and baby boomers.

December 17th marks the start of Roman holiday Saturnalia. It’s a feast of absolute decadence and unbridled mirth, a license to let loose and let er rip… Alas, it ends on Festivus 12/23 (sleigh it ain’t so), which is a secular Seinfeld fete adorned by a solitary metal pole, and more drinking, eating, and making merry. Giddy up on 12/18 & leave an apple, carrot, or oats out for Epona. Or you can join us 12/21 in resuming Isis’ search for Osiris critical missing part…December 28th is Spanish Fools Day, Dia de los Santos; and though I won’t be there this year 12/31 Scottish Hogmanay lives on, with folks bouncing house to house, belting rude rhymes, playing the fool; begging for drinks, cakes, a penny or two.

Different sort of stocking stuffers includes the US Government finally righting a wrong and complying with an signed 1835 Treaty with the Cherokee Nation, appointing a Cherokee delegate to serve in Congress. Additionally, the release of a new batch of docs RE JFK’s assassination may knock our socks off… CIA, FBI, DEA, and Pentagon have been fighting release, citing potential national security and foreign policy concerns. A law passed in 1992 demanded the declassification of records by 2017. Only a sitting Pres has power to continue to withhold files—Pres Biden ordered a review—deadline 12/15/22.

You better watch out acquires new meaning when one counts Christmas sleighings slayings. On 12/26/00 in Massachusetts Michael McDermott killed 7 coworkers using an AK47 variant; his excuse, he had no soul nor did IRS that garnished his wages. Jon Benet Ramsey, Boulder, COL 12/26/1996, ice cold killer still at large; Covina, CA 12/24/2008, newly divorced Bruce Pardo goes to ex’s house dressed as Santa and kills 9 of the 25 people inside, then set house on fire and offs himself. 12/24/1992, six killed in Dayton, OH spree murders. Ashland, KY (where Charley Manson grew up) 12/24/1881, 3 children murdered, house set on fire.  December 16, 1846, Nevada, 17 Donner Party aka cannibal caravan members set out to find food, get help; of the entire 87 in original Donner party, 48 survived. Of those that died, many dug up after being frozen, none wore lederhosen.

The annual wild hunt will soon be afoot (12/12-1/6). Should you hear the baying of hounds or encounter black cloaked predators, make haste to the center of a crossroads and sprinkle salt. December you’re a month at which I have sniffed, at certain of your sentiments, at Scrooge & the Grinch, and moaned about under mistletoe being kissed. I’ve even argued, with solid reasons, why folks should just skip the holiday season. Though every time I try to eschew it, I end up muddling through it. Persuading dragons, tossing back flagons, tilting at windmills are my passions, exerted with effort abashdon’ed. Throughout the year, I try to outfox, the stuff escaped from Pandora’s box. Magic felt in December leaves us never, if only year round we’d just remember.

For those that work, may the coin that’s tossed, ensure a Fezziwig type is your holiday boss. For those that don’t mind tempting fate, celebrate by donning skates or rollerblades. For those that can melodiously shout, sing out. For those with ka’ching to spare, share. For those envisioning a better world, think of the oyster and the pearl. December you’re the Friday of months, the evenest of years, swaying on a precipitous edge as 2023 draws near. Is it nostalgia—or ancient magic afoot this month, connecting pastoral past to techno infused present—allowing us to pause, savor seasonal glamour, and worldwide good will for which we clamber?

Whether you’re sleighing it or staying in, or traveling to meet with kin, may you sport a glorious grin. This year, and others, has had its up and downs. Let’s wish next year is stingy on things that make us frown. Welcome in a quality phase, with 360 degrees of better days. Project if you will, let the ghosts of the future give you a holiday chill. It’s noir dark, one minute past midnite on the last day of 2022. A new year wimpers, then cries I Am Born. A few sleepless souls harken and respond. Lights flicker on, welcoming 2023, year of the rabbit, hare today, too soon gone…  Rekindle your divine spark—amid a scent of balsam, a canopy of candle light. I leave you with words by Ogden Nash, curmudgeon and iconoclast: Gather round hearth and knee, something is about to be. Tonight’s December 31, something new’s about to birth. The clock is crouching, dark & small, like a time bomb in the hall. Hail midnight, friends and dears. Duck! Here comes another year.

Part 2 of Dea’s Ghost Story drops in early December and I play cosmic dodgeball dropping Remains to Be Seen chapters next year. Stay tuned for the rest of Chaz and Nora’s story (Act of Ambition) and Grave Goddesses final showdown between Peter Dan and Ryder’s maniacal murderer. 2023 monthly blog takes on 12 infamous years. Cheers!