First Day of Winter

Today is the first day of winter. If you're lucky, your hair smells like a bonfire right now because you were at a winter solstice shindig last night, partying with hippies until the wee hours of the morning.

But chances are, you're more excited about the traditional — though, let's not forget, also pagan-rooted — holiday celebrations. And inevitably, once those are over, you'll get the blues. As Curious George laments when he runs out of buckets of paint or cauldrons of spaghetti, "All the fun was gone, too."

But you're wrong. There are many, many reasons to be excited that it's now winter. What's that? You'd like me to list them for you? Well alright. Get ready, 'cause I'm-a lay it on ya:

* If you're a cat lover, this is YOUR TIME, dude. Kitties, originating as they did in warmer climes, need to keep a body temperature of about 38.6 degrees Celsius (101.5 degrees Fahrenheit). So guess what? That means Mr. Cold Shoulder is putty in your hands right now because all he cares about these days is snuggling up to a big, fatty human! Enjoy!

* C'mon. You know you turn into a kid again each time the weatherman announces that the first big snowstorm of the season is chugging toward us. Who doesn't feel a little jolt of excitement when they hear the words "Siberian Express" or "Snow Day"?

* I've wised up about the annual disappointment that is New Year's Eve, the only holiday that can hold a candle to Valentine's Day in terms of expectations that are doomed to failure. It's now one of my favorite holidays: a fondue-champagne-movie fest that ends when we crash on my sectional and not I-20.

* It's so pure and clean. All the holiday clutter, obligations, bullshit — even the last dead leaves on the trees — are out of the way, and you can see the bones of the landscape. If you don't really want to see things in stark relief, I can understand why you'd dislike this time of year. But, hey, I like to know what I'm dealing with.

* No song matches the feeling you get from the sun's slant and the strange hopefulness of this time of year better than Cousteau's "Last Good Day of the Year".

* If you just can't appreciate today's being the first day of winter, if you're still not a believer, well ... you'll grow up someday. Until then, hibernate for the duration, or, to paraphrase a famous quote, "To shorten winter, borrow money that's due in spring."