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By Staff | Dec 2, 2010

This season is often full of disappointments and this particular year doesn’t disappoint in that department.

First and foremost is the arrival of cold weather. We had such a warm and glorious October, I had all but convinced myself that it would stay that way through the winter months.

Perhaps the Midwest might become as balmy as the Mediterranean, with bikinied young ladies waterskiing on New Year’s Day.

But, no. The frigid air gushed in from the North Pole, chasing the skimpy swimsuits equator-wards. And I’d had such high hopes for global warming.

Another huge letdown was the decrease in daylight hours. After half a year of more than 12 hours of sunshine, I had become accustomed to the lavishness of light.

Certainly it was predictable that the days would shorten. This sort of thing has been going on for the past several billion years, and one can hardly expect it to change.

But still, I had nurtured a tiny hope that maybe, just this once, the earth would abandon its canted ways and “straighten up” and “fly right”.

On a more personal level, I am deeply discouraged that I turned another year older this fall. I swore off birthdays a long time ago, but they continue to arrive despite my best efforts.

I even tried living by that old adage “find an age you like and stick to it,” but to no avail. It got so that hardly anyone would believe that a graying, bearded, obviously middle-aged guy is actually eight years old.

On the other hand, having a birthday is far superior to the alternative. Any morning when you can pull on your socks and go out and meet the world is a good day.

These longer nights give one more time to contemplate and reconcile life’s ledger. Such a reckoning is invariably disappointing.

For example, by the time Einstein was my age, he had formulated his Theory of Relativity (which, I gather, involved theoretical relatives) and had been awarded the Nobel Prize for his efforts.

I recently found one of my old high school report cards and saw that I had been awarded a “C” for my efforts in science. But I did earn a “B” in physical education, which, as I recall, merely meant that I showed up for the class on a somewhat regular basis.

By the time he was my age, John Steinbeck had won a Pulitzer Prize for his novel “The Grapes of Wrath.” I, on the other hand, raised a few grapes this summer and would sometimes wrathfully pull weeds from amongst them.

Steinbeck also wrote the excellent novella “Of Mice and Men.” The closest I ever came to such a thing is when, as the Man Of The House, I successfully caught a mouse in a glue trap.

Indeed, the nearest I ever came to any manner of literary accomplishment was in high school, when Mr. Brown gave me an “A” for some silly story I coughed up for his creative writing class.

And the main outcome for that landmark achievement was earning the label of “teacher’s pet,” which caused me to swear off of high grades from then on.

By the time he was my age, Teddy Roosevelt had fought in the Spanish-American War and had served two terms as president. He was spending his leisure time enjoying death-defying safaris to Africa and generally solidifying his spot on Mount Rushmore.

I, on the other hand, have taken a perilous automobile safari to Mount Rushmore.

By age 35, Mozart had composed over 600 works of classical music. In all fairness, he also happened to have the great good luck of being born in the classical era.

I barely remember being 35. My inability to carry a tune is legendary, often associated with the phrase “tin bucket.”

All these things – the power to control the weather, the seasons, the world, the ability to make literary or literal music – are forever beyond my grasp. And all one can say is, alas, alas!

Life swivels arbitrarily on the trunnions of fate. Coyote heaves an anvil off a lofty cliff; the springy telegraph wires below airmail the hunk of iron back to him, flattening his skull instead of Roadrunner’s.

So has it been for me. Power, fame, wealth, talent – all have proven hopelessly elusive.

But I have a wife who loves me with all her heart and we have two sons who have grown up to honorable manhood.

Our extended family is large and boisterous; we know one anothers’ shortcomings, but put up with each other nonetheless.

And that is so vastly, infinitely better than having any of those other things that there’s simply no excuse for a guy to go around disappointed.

Nelson is a freelance writer from Volga, S.D. Reach him by e-mail at jjpcnels@itctel.com.

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