Oh, what a beautiful morning.
This is what I hum to myself upon rising, in flannel pajamas, each New Year’s Day.
The holiday season is over.
Stores will stop playing “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,” and accordingly, Mommy and Santa will return to the less-kissy routines of everyday life.
TV ads linking Christmas spirit with the purchase of luxury cars will be shelved. The family budget bulge will begin to contract.
And, I, toward the end of the day, will stir, happily and with purpose, from perhaps a long winter’s nap, or the late afternoon news, and bring my target into range.
Still aglow with little white lights, a few opened presents remaining beneath its boughs (scarf, sweater, electric can opener), the noble yuletide tree will have served its purpose.
Sawdust is its destiny.
Each year, I am first on my block to haul the piney remains outside for pickup by the town despite the objections of family.
“Couldn’t wait a couple days?” a son or daughter might say.
“The hour is nigh,” I will reply.
“Our own Mr. Grinch.”
“Pardon me. I have work to do.”
First, the ornaments.
“Slowly,” advises my wife, Wink, who knows my track record and impatient disposition. “Carefully.”
Yes, certainly, but who says that means two, three, perhaps, even four dangles — the fragile balls we bought when first married, the Key West memento, the wooden cutout of Big Bird, the St. Nick look-alike in a Mets cap — cannot be removed from the tree in one maneuver?
I carry them — dozens — to the dining room table. Wink wraps each in tissue paper and places them gently in storage boxes. She watches, hawk-eyed, as I labor. Breakage is severely frowned upon.
Next, the lights. Strands are wound onto reels in order to avoid tangles. On each I have attached a sign, “Test First.” To be avoided at all costs is stringing the lights, hanging the ornaments, applying tinsel, flipping the switch and discovering the line is dead. It’s happened.
We advance to the final stages.
Unloose four set screws in the red-and-green base, wiggle the tree a bit to free it from the bottom and lift without splashing the remaining water. I am scored poorly if a puddle is left behind. Wink remains on duty, vigilant.
Okay, then. Through the kitchen, out the back patio door, down the steps, along our little garden path and to the other side of the street. The tree is at curbside. In a day or two it will be gone thanks to the crew from waste management.
All that remains is to sweep up the needles in the living room and put table and chairs, shoved aside to make room for the tree, where they belong
Back to normal. Yes.
Why so eager to pull the curtain on Christmas?
It’s just the idea that — as with lots of things in life — there are limits. I may be a little on the antsy side, but by Jan. 1, I’m done. The buildup is over, excitement has ebbed, winter awaits. Before you know it, the Mets and Yanks will be in Florida for spring training.
Christmas? We’ll do it again next year, OK? At least, that’s the plan. To everything, a season. Better believe it.
In a previous column, I recalled fondly the famous Chock full o’Nuts cream cheese sandwich that I ate as a kid in the ’50s.
It was a New York classic — silky schmear on date-nut bread. The best.
Problem is, I said it was on whole wheat raisin.
“Wrong,” said an emailer named Michael.
“Date-nut bread, not whole wheat,” complained Eddie.
“Best damn date-nut in the world,” added Al.
I got tricked by an old Chock full o’Nuts menu, that’s what. The only “cheese” sandwich listed was on whole wheat raisin. Gee, I thought, maybe my memory is shot. Better go with the evidence.
Helping out was Dennis Crawford, senior marketing manager for Chock full o’ Nuts.
There was a time, he said, when the old restaurants — long gone — offered a cheese sandwich on whole wheat raisin. But date-nut is the longtime fan favorite. “By far the one we hear about most,” he said.
Crawford wanted to make something else clear. The column noted that Chock full had removed the slogan “New York’s Coffee since 1932” from cans and I wondered if the company was downplaying its Big Apple origins.
No way, said Crawford. He noted that the latest cans have an enhanced New York skyline with the Empire State and Chrysler buildings prominent.
Chock full o’Nuts loves New York, said Crawford,“and always will.”