Posted On December 22, 2023

Yesterday was the winter solstice. Brings back memories…


Yesterday was the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. Said another way, there is more darkness on December 21st than any other day. It’s also the day I got engaged many years ago.

The story I like to tell is that my wife, who was then a collegiate volleyball coach, was watching VHS videos of players she was hoping to recruit. I asked her to stop the video and pay attention to me for a moment or two. She reluctantly did with a “this better be good” expression. I asked her to marry me. She considered the proposition. She looked me up and down a few times. She remained quiet for a terribly uncomfortable amount of time and finally said “Ok” and then hit play on the VCR and returned to her work. She’ll deny much of this story, by the way.

It’s usually the darkest day of the year that I begin my annual Christmas panic purchases. I fear that I’ve underperformed with the gift giving; that my gifts won’t amount to enough. I blow through my preset budgets and start tossing stuff under the Christmas tree in a panic. My kids never mind this. My wife says you’ve done too much, you’ve gone too far. She’s never returned any of the gifts I get her, by the way. She says “You’ve gone overboard” as she takes her bounty with her to the back of the house.

And I get the same complaints from kids every year. “Dad,” they say, “you’re too hard to buy for.” They’re right. Like most fathers I tend to get myself what I want. Every year I struggle to get my father something and this year he flat our said “I don’t want anything. Nothing. Really. Nothing. I’m trying to get rid of all the stuff I have.” However, I’ll get him something. It’ll may be a new phone charger. The one he has is quite dated. It’s powered by a gerbil on a wheel and takes all night to charge his phone. However, I struggle with the question “Is a phone charger the right gift to give your father?” Seems very impersonable. My grandmother used to give the gifts she received back. She’d say, “I’ve enjoyed it for many months. Thank you very much. Now I’m giving it back to you.” We started buying her gifts with that in mind – what will I want in the spring that I can give her for Christmas?

Incidentally, my wife and I married on the summer solstice. We got engaged on the winter solstice and married on the summer solstice. We realized this years later. So my wedding day was absolutely the longest day of the year. That cannot be denied. It’s all in how you say it.

As 2023 winds to a close, I wish you a happy holiday season and a Merry Christmas. Try to slow down. Find a warm fire and stare into it for a while. Fires make good company. There is stress all over during the holidays, but for a short time, try to sluff it off and sit quietly. I’ll do the same.

I’m Cam Marston and I’m just trying to Keep it Real.

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