Shortly after Sunday’s sunset, I took down my Christmas tree. Considering 2020’s nearly year long, uh, let’s refer to them as disappointments, I’d have probably left it up until the vernal equinox; well, were it not for the string of lights suddenly, unexpectedly, giving up the ghost.
How such a malfunction could’ve happened still confounds my understanding of basic electricity; specifically speaking, wired in parallel circuitry. I mean, even had a few of the bulbs burnt out, recently, the rest should’ve still lit up.
Anyway, seeing how I had inherited this lighting from my folks; how it had brightened up my family’s Christmastimes for over half a century, the likely cause of death was (what else?) old age; a phrase that’s somewhat applicable in describing the condition of yours truly, too.
Yet, there’s still the loitering kid, within, who saddens me at the end of each December / January holiday season. When I was an actual kid, my shrewd Mom had always chosen the perfect time to take down our tree; typically, soon after my sister and I had returned to our public school classrooms. I mean, the tree was up in the morning and by the time us kiddies got home in the afternoon; well, you get the picture.
Joni Mitchell once lyrically summed up this old year out / new year in cycle as (what else?) the Circle Game. As for my drawing additional parallels to all things electrical, indeed, the circle / circuit has now been broken. Hmm, that must also account for what has just triggered my sudden, lengthy sigh.
All sighs aside, it was while boxing up my dismantled artificial tree and the ornaments, that my mind began to wander; to loosely, free associate my 2021 short story with O. Henry’s 1907 short story, The Last Leaf; set in Greenwich Village amidst a fall / winter pneumonia epidemic. Via his cleverly crafted protagonists’ interaction we get to witness the completion of the seasoned painter’s pièce de résistance; how his labor of love serves as a morale booster for his ailing artist friend. Yet, by story’s end, not all things wind up happily ever after.
By the by, my intentionally vague rehashing of the narrative is to benefit any of you, who’ve yet to read this heartwarming / heartbreaking tale.
For those of you who’ve chosen not to savor O. Henry’s literary masterpiece, I’m linking you to a synopsis, which, as a final warning, I’m deliberately keying in as SPOILER ALERT!
As for how my project, last night, relates to O. Henry’s last leaf (well, at least in my own head)? Well, you see, with each passing year that these lights had managed to survive, I sensed that I, too, could survive to behold, at the very least, one more Christmas future. But now? Especially now?
With the still raging pandemic; with my own homeland’s in-title-only leader still pissed off enough to (literally) go ballistic, how can this doubting Thomas not have doubts?
Stay Publicly Masked!
Stay Safe at Home!