Sunday, December 29, 2013

It is Sunday, December 29 and there are only 361 days until Christmas.Remember, it is never too early to start shopping.Today we remember the birthdays of Francesco Maria Guaitoli, Pablo Casals and Mary Tyler Moore.On this day in 1862 the bowling ball was invented, in 1911 the San Francisco Symphony was founded and "Thunderball" premiered in the US in 1965.It is the President's Birthday in Gabon, Admission Day in Texas and Ante-Penultimate Day world-wide.

Let's take a couple minutes to discuss the word penultimate.I have heard this word used a number of times by people and generally it is used incorrectly.People use the word as if it meant the most fantastic of something.Harry said, "The pastrami sandwich made by the deli down the street is fantastic.It is the penultimate pastrami sandwich.No one makes a better sandwich."What Harry does not realize is that he is giving that sandwich the opposite of the praise he was trying for.

Penultimate means that something is the next to last in the series.In other words, the letter Y is the penultimate letter in the alphabet.So what does "ante-penultimate" mean?This word, which you do not hear much of in general conversation, means coming before the next to last, or third from last.That means that the letter W is the ante-penultimate letter in the alphabet.Isn't the language fun?When you look at all the various rules, variations, etc in the English language, is it any wonder people find it easier to speak their native tongue than learn English?

Well, Christmas is over.We spent months shopping, planning, decorating, baking and doing all the other chores associated with the preparation for the big day.That morning everyone got up and exchanged gifts, kids were tearing wrapping paper, tossing gifts of clothing aside and exclaiming happily as they uncovered the various toys they had hoped for.Families got together and exchanged gifts, dinners were lovingly prepared and eaten, a good time was had by all and then it was over.In just a day, all that went before was over.So now what?

I know a number of people who would be quite happy to just take down the decorations and move on.I would bet that if a survey were taken, we would find out that most people leave their decorations up because they do not want to appear weird because they took them down.But think about it.When the other holidays come, the decorations go up (usually a month or so before) and once the day has passed everything comes down.Sure there are some houses where you still see Easter bunnies on the front lawn a week or so after Easter Sunday, but for the most part they are gone within a day or two.The same with Valentine's Day or Halloween.Once the day has passed, the decorations are gone.So what makes Christmas different?Why do the decorations stay up, even into the new year?

I could understand if they stayed through New Year's Day because many people feel that this is all part of the holiday week and the decorations should stay for the whole week.Based on tradition, the holiday does not end until Epiphany, January 6.This day is also known as "Three Kings Day" or "Twelfth Day" and for some Christian denominations signals the conclusion of the twelve days of the Christmas season.The word epiphany means "manifestation" or "revelation" and is commonly linked with the visit of the wise men (Magi) to the Christ child.Through the Magi, Christ revealed himself to the gentilesbut I digress.

If you decide that you want to leave the decorations up until Epiphany, fine.The lovely Elaine likes to get them down as soon after the new year as possible.I am inclined to agree.Here is another question for everyone.Why is it that dragging out the decorations and putting them up is such great fun, but putting them away is such a chore?Is that why some people leave their decorations up until February or March?Can it be that they don't exactly love having them up, but they just can't bear the thought of having to take them down and put them away?

Whatever the reason, I think that January 6 is the latest decorations should be up.Even if you have a hard time working up the energy to get them down, you should not be turning them on after the 6th.After seeing them since November, it becomes a little ridiculous.It would be like playing Christmas music in July because you like it.Never mind, I do that.Give us all a break and take down the decorations before February.They will clash with the Valentine's Day stuff, anyway.

We are rapidly approaching New Year's Eve.That is the night when people go out of their way to reach a level of excitement and partying in an effort to bring in the new year.You should be aware that it will happen even without making a fool of yourself and getting drunk in public and throwing up on your friends and strangers who happened to be in the way.I am not opposed to partying or to drinking and have been known to do so myself, on occasion.I am just saying that we do not need to see what you had for lunch and dinner splattered on the sidewalk to show how much fun you are having.

Drink, eat well, laugh, sing, dance and be sure to watch Ryan Seacrest and Fergie on TV.Is it still going to be called Dick Clark's Rockin' New Years Eve?I hope so for two reasons.First of all, because I hate to see something that has been a tradition for so many years just go away like that.It took a long time to get used to not having Guy Lombardo bring in the new year.Secondly, Ryan Seacrest'sRockin' New Years Eve just doesn't have the same ring to it.

This week's fact tells us that 38% of American men say they love their cars more than women.This could be the beginning of a couple new tends.One would be a line of clothing for women that would be designed based on cars.It could give a whole new meaning to phrases like, "Hey baby, I like your grill work."The other would be some kind of web site that would connect men to unattached cars.

So this New Year's Eve have a safe, happy, fun-filled time.The lovely Elaine and I send our wishes for a wonderful and Happy New Year.May 2014 be all that you hope for, may it be filled with joy, happiness, fun, laughter and good times and may you be blessed with the love of family and friends.Happy New Year!
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