Are we there yet?


It happens every year, some time in December – I realize that it’s not actually winter until December 21, when the winter solstice occurs. I find this astounding and disturbing. Every year. Forgetting for a moment about the every year thing (as I do every year), I simply find it amazing that over half of December is actually in the fall. That means that Chanuka, which I always thought of as a winter holiday, is usually in the fall. Or should I say, usually falls in the fall, since our weird calendar is partly lunar and partly solar, making Jewish holidays hop around this country’s calendar like a gentile bishop on a chessboard. Anyway, this winter solstice thing never ceases to amaze me. Every year.

So this year, on December 19 and in the thick of Chanuka, I turned to my husband and said “do you realize that it isn’t even winter yet? The winter solstice isn’t for two days.”

“The winter soul-stitch?” he said. “Does this mean you’re finally willing to sew something? I’ll get that button.”

“No,” I replied. “The winter solstice.”

“Salt-stitch?” said he, his eyes lighting up. “Does this mean you’re finally willing to cook something? I’ll get a pot.”

“The winter solstice,” I repeated, rolling my eyes. I do that so often since I married I worry that they’ll stay that way, like Mother warned when I was a kid. “the moment in the year when the northern hemisphere of the earth is at it furthest point away from the sun. Which means it’s still fall right now. Can you believe it?”

“Believe it? Why would I even think about it?” he asked, shaking his head and “tsk-tsking,” the equivalent of my eye-rolling, except for not being justified.

“Because it’s crazy that it’s Chanuka and practically the end of December and it’s not even winter yet!” I said. “Doesn’t that bother you?”

Besides my perpetual annual surprise at the winter solstice, I continue to be surprised that my husband isn’t bothered by things that bother me. For example, he isn’t bothered when he leaves me freezing after he steals all of the covers. Nor is he bothered when he inhales whatever’s still on the table when I haven’t finished eating. For example, the other day, he not only put the cake I’d brought out for dessert on his plate but had eaten the whole thing before I’d even had chance to cut a piece for myself.

“You couldn’t even save me a slice?” I asked.

“I thought you didn’t want any,” he responded. O.k., what he actually said was “Mmmf mm doo nana ooah neny,” but I’ve learned to understand the noises he makes when his mouth is full the way parents learn to understand their toddlers when they say “mamoo goo da goga!”

“Why would you think that?” I asked.

“You turned away,” he replied. He had swallowed by this time, and I’d caught him before he swigged any liquid to wash it down.

“I was sneezing!

“Well, it looked like lack of interest to me. Speaking of which, are you having any of that?” he said, pointing to the milk.

“Now that I don’t have any cake, no, I am not interested,” I pouted. “But I want to have enough for cereal in the morning. Think you can swing that?”

He furrowed his brow, using the special part of his brain he always keeps available to think about food.

“I’m not sure. How much is a gallon minus a cup?”

But I digress. Getting back to the winter solstice.

“Bother me?” he said. “The only thing that bothers me is how bothered you are that I’m not bothered by something I can’t be bothered with.”

“You know,” I replied, “it would really be nice if you at least tried to understand my point of view once in a while.”

“Point of view?! How about obsession, with something, I might add, that smacks of paganism.”

“Paganism?!”

“Yes. This whole soul or salt thing…the sun, the moon…I know I’ve asked you this before, but are you actually a witch?”

“A what?”

“You know, with that whole earth thing, and the sun thing, and the feminism…you know…one of those wiki women, or is it wacky women…”

“It’s wicca,” I sighed,” and for the last time, I am not. But I’m beginning to think I could use the services of one.…”

And that was the moment I decided the heck with the winter solstice. Now was the winter of my discontent.

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