Discussion of the illness that limits my life bores even me, especially since this round has lasted some two months. The fact that I am ill and must approach both friendly liquid libations and solid food with great caution bears on the story, so we'll leave it there.
On Friday we went to Salem Beer Works, because
a) if I didn't have one night out I would go nuts
b) it's barley wine season, which I don't plan on missing even if I have to rise from a coffin to do it.
For the interested parties, I got to sample a straight-up barley wine they are working on. Very creditable. Alas, after the modest sample and a pair of Hercules Strong ales, my spouse had to drive home. Life still has its limits.
My wife is seldom philosophical, and I am quite sure I did not hallucinate this suggestion of hers, made over beverages. Its drift was that there are two things Americans can agree upon this time of year. One is participation (willing or no) in the free exercise of American capitalism. The other is doing things that lift the psychological burden of short days and long, cold nights. I suggested the latter is close to a primal human urge: the desire to drive away the dark.
She agrees that "Happy Holidays" is a pallid and inadequate greeting, and observes that all greetings with religious overtones are going to cause some friction in a pluralistic society, so why not get to the point? Let's just say "Happy Shopping" and have done with it.
I don't find shopping this time of year especially happy, but the principle has an admirable candour. Happy Shopping, every one!
(I'm personally going to work the "drive away the darkness" angle this year. We don't have a fireplace, so I think I'll open the furnace door, crouch in front of the gas flame, beat a drum and chant.)