Winter Begins

In the mid morning chill I stood on my deck today and pulled down strings of Christmas lights. At least it's sunny, which made the task maybe a little more appealing. But it was still cold and I just focused on pulling the lights down in a tangle and then tossing them inside to be rolled up more neatly later. I like pushing the limits of Christmas lights: up the weekend of Thanksgiving, down no less than a week after new year's. Any sooner and then you are rushing the holiday season, like the shops who install Christmas decorations and merchandise before Halloween. If the lights are up any longer, people start to think you are just lazy and likely wonder if you'll be one of those houses that saves themselves next year's chores by never taking the lights down at all.

I wish we could keep Christmas lights up all winter, to bring light into the cold, cold, dark nights. Optimists remind me that since the winter solstice has already passed the days are getting longer already. What makes me optimistic is picking up lights for next year at a 60% discount last week at Lowes. The fat, colorful, classic kind too.Riding the *early* train home last night at 5 pm it was already pitch black. Despite its meteorological truth, I'm not convinced that the days are longer. I'll believe it in April, maybe. And now it feels like the real grunt of Chicago winter begins. No more cheery holidays celebrations, no free days off of work until Memorial Day. Just dirty piles of snow that won't melt for weeks, dead car batteries, cold and darkness. It's time for reading Russian novels, red wine, and either delivery or restaurants with fireplaces. Being relieved to get home from the walk from the train station because it's so chilly outside, but the couch is the perfect place to watch snowflakes fall through the beams of streetlamps.

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