Friday, December 25, 2020

26 Days to Fresh Start: Holiday Edition

If you have listened to any newscast during the last few weeks you no doubt heard dire warnings about expected delays in deliveries of holiday packages by FedEx, UPS and the U.S. Postal Service. 

Heeding those warnings I shipped out a box of books to our two Omaha-based grandchildren. I mailed the Hanukkah gifts December 1. My post office receipt stated, “Estimated Delivery Date Mon 12/07/2020.” Hanukkah began the evening of December 10 and ended at sunset December 18. 

The package has still not arrived. USPS tracking, as of December 25, says the shipment is “in transit.” That most recent update was recorded December 17. I realize books receive less than priority shipping, but really, three-plus weeks!?!

Full disclosure—I also mailed Hanukkah cookies Gilda baked for our grandkids in Omaha and Acton, Mass. I mailed those December 4. Those packages were received in time for Hanukkah celebrations. 

Fortunately, the books were not the only Hanukkah presents CJ and Leo were to receive. Otherwise the Grinch might have stolen the joy of another holiday. 

Speaking of Disappointments: Torrential wind-driven rain overnight washed away almost all of the snow in White Plains, but this being Christmas Day you can still hear “Frosty the Snowman” playing in many stores that are open and across many radio stations. But in my neighborhood, at least, the art and joy of actually molding a snow person from the near foot of snow that fell last Thursday apparently has been lost on this new generation of children and their parents. 

In the last few years 10 families with pre-teenage offspring have moved into our three block development. Yet, the only snow people to have appeared on lawns are the blow-up type that are part of outdoor holiday decorations.

My faith in junior humanity was somewhat restored Wednesday afternoon during a one hour walk in a nearby neighborhood. Gilda and I came across two child-made snow people.

Still, I cannot help but wonder if life has become too cushy for the current generation of parent and child. 

Out in Omaha, five-year-old granddaughter CJ loves sledding. Three-year-old brother Leo does not. He doesn’t like getting wet. 

CJ’s enthusiasm for sledding, on the other hand, is unbounded, even after she slid under a chain link fence on a friend’s property. She might have been severely scratched if not for being bundled up in a puffy winter jacket and pandemic mask. 

CJ’s brush with trauma reminded me of a time I took her her mother, Ellie, and uncle, Dan, sledding at nearby Maple Moor Golf Course. Dan was probably 10, Ellie 7. 

We chose a steep hill that most of the other children and parents slid down. It sloped toward the Hutchinson River more than 100 yards away. On one of Ellie’s first runs she exceeded expectations, so much so that more she seemed certain to wind up in the aforementioned Hutchinson River. 

Dan and I screamed for her to roll off her sled. Doubtful she heard us from the top of the hill, but she did stop yards from the water. She was excited by her adventure, but agreed to be more aware of her proximity to the river on subsequent runs.

On a return visit to Maple Moor we noticed that some enterprising daredevil had built a slight bump onto the snow about half way down the hill. The bump was perhaps six inches in height. 

On one of my runs I steered right at the bump. Going over wasn’t the problem. Landing was. My coccyx bone hurt for three months. I don’t recall ever again sledding with the kids.

Animal Farm: My recent post of a neighbor’s dog named Murray and a visit by a deer to our yard elicited the following comments: 

From AG: “WOW, a St. Bernewfie named Murray! How lovely. Our NPR station (WAMC) Pres/CEO Alan Chartok’s dog, a beagle, I think, is also named Murray and he is frequently in the studio!

“My first boy-friend’s family had a big beautiful black Newfoundland named Sheila. Her mother was named Sheba, and lived nearby. One afternoon the local Tuckahoe fire department got a phone call from a woman obviously in great distress explaining that there were two big black bears asleep in her cellar next to the furnace. 

“The person at the fire department laughed and explained it was Sheila and Sheba who must have found their way in and were keeping warm, and were quite harmless. Sheila’s human father was a volunteer fireman, so all knew the dogs. They are quite large and quite wonderful. 

“From what I learned then, Newfoundlands are natural swimmers and somehow know how to save children and women FIRST, so they were adopted as official dogs of the Coast Guard!”

My cousin Michael reacted to our deer visit: 

“We have lots of deer in our (Baltimore) neighborhood, and they can be very destructive to Mary’s gardens. So, if you find that you are starting to have problems with the deer eating your shrubs (and flowers in the spring), I can recommend Plantskydd animal repellent.  

“It comes as oil liquid (best for shrubs—you spray it on) and granules (good for plants that are close to the ground). The liquid smells absolutely terrible. I wear old clothes to apply the spray, then immediately disrobe and put them in the wash and head to the shower. I also recommend using disposable gloves. This repellent has been very effective in keeping the deer away.  Needs to be applied about every 6-8 weeks.”

Bambi returned early this morning after several days’ absence. I couldn’t tell if he ate some more of the ivy on our fence, but he did drop a calling card on our slate walkway. 

Oh, well. In keeping with the season I’ll close with the greeting on a Santa Claus picture card I used to send to friends, “Murray Christmas.”