Saturday, August 27, 2016

It's Over So Soon

Columbia Spy is privileged to publish several articles by Columbia native Mike Clark, with permission of the author. The essays were previously published in The Globe Leader and 50-plus Senior News and will continue to be reprinted in the Spy over the next few weeks.

It's Over So Soon

By Mike Clark

By now, most of us are back to our routine day to day.

The Christmas tree stands lifeless in the corner of the room where, just days ago, it was imbued with a certain seasonal magic—a magic especially obvious at night when its lights glowed warmly, and the bright, shiny ornaments reflected the illumination in a colorful palette of red, green, blue, silver, and gold throughout the room.

The electrical plug now droops over a bottom branch. Nobody notices; the lights remain cold. The tree has seen its best days, done its holiday duty, and will soon be stripped of its finery.

The township mulch pile is the next stop for some trees. Others will be placed in giant bags and placed curbside on trash-removal day. There are tiring days ahead for those who must heave the woody remains onto a truck.

In the meantime, some gifts remain under the tree. Sweater sleeves appear to slither over the shallow sides of their boxes to touch the floor, chain-store tags dangle from bathrobes and slippers, and returnable items are bagged up and ready to go back to the mall at the next convenient moment.

The best gifts are already in use. That’s not to say that sweaters, slippers, and bathrobes aren’t great gifts. They are. It’s just that most people do not feel compelled to model slippers and robes when they’re outside the home. It would just be odd. There’s not much about those items that elicit admiration and approval, anyway.

As for sweaters, I haven’t looked good in one since I was young and almost slim (maybe not slim, but a lot less bulgy).

Stockings will be taken down, and not necessarily with the care in which they were hung; I yank, and tacks fly. They land in places where only bare feet can find them. The small stuffers of pen sets, bottles of fragrance, candy bars, shaving razors, and all sorts of other knickknackery have been whisked away.

I shook my stocking out several times. I’m convinced it was only hung to add symmetry to the lineup; I didn’t ask.

Listen, it’s all good. I have little use for pen sets; the ink is nearly dried up in the ones I already own. My bottle of Old Spice is almost full. It’s obvious that I don’t need candy bars. I mostly use an electric razor, when I remember to charge it. And I certainly have no use for knickknacks and the dust they collect.

It’s a new year. We embrace hope and the idea of a do-over for mistakes, poor decisions, and bad habits that have hindered our aspirations and relationships. We vow to be better. We will lose weight, quit smoking, be more patient with our spouses and children, unselfishly serve mankind, and make other resolutions, numerous and diverse.

We will invariably fail to follow through on some of our loftier aims. It happens because we are human. Being human is a good general excuse for why we often fall short of our grand schemes.

But resilience of spirit is another aspect of being human. When we fail, we feel challenged. We back up, take a running start, and head for the goal, again and again. That’s when good things happen, and we become better human beings. Keep at it—you’ll see.

Happy New Year.

Mike Clark writes a regular column for The Globe Leader newspaper in New Wilmington, Pa. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in organizational behavior/applied psychology from Albright College. Mike lives outside Columbia, Pa., and can be contacted at

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