Ready or not, here come the holidays.
Now that we've put that little formality of Thanksgiving behind us, we can finally concentrate on the one annual celebration that really matters.
Hey, don't shoot the messenger here; I'm merely reporting on the phenomenon of this prevalent attitude in society. Because you have to admit, on the road of life, most folks see Thanksgiving as little more than a gravy-covered speed bump separating Halloween from the jolly juggernaut that has become the modern Christmas observance.
And in that respect, at least, Thanksgiving does serve one very important role. For normal people, it marks the day we toss the pumpkins onto the compost heap and begin hauling out the holly. I say "normal people," because there are those fringe camps of whackizoids out there who don't share this commonly accepted approach to holiday etiquette.
On the one hand, you have your Christmas crazies -- people who never met a month in which they couldn't spread a little holiday cheer. And on the other: militant Scrooges who think you shouldn't start decking the halls until mid-December at the earliest.
But for the vast majority of us, with T-day squarely in our rearview mirror, it is now official. We can start listening to those all-carols-all-the-time radio stations without feeling guilty. And we can illuminate our garish outdoor lighting displays with impunity.
Ah, but before we move on, let us pause one last time and give a shout out to Thanksgiving 2012. It is, after all, still November.
Every fall, I tell myself that this is the year I'm going to write a heartfelt, serious Thanksgiving column -- one in which I talk about all of the things I'm thankful for. My home. My family. My country. The dollar menu at my favorite fast-food chains.
But truthfully, with the spread of blogs and social media sites, everybody and his or her tom turkey is doing that whole what-I'm-thankful-for shtick.
Particularly popular this year was the "Thirty Days of Thanksgiving Challenge," wherein each day you offer up one thing you're thankful for. Of course, the dirty little truth of the matter is, by about Day 20, folks have long since run out of things to be grateful for -- to the point where those who haven't simply given up are padding their lists with junk like "I'm thankful for the sky" and "I'm thankful for cardboard boxes." (Yes, it's true. One person was actually appreciative of corrugated containers.)
Yeah. Well, needless to say, I decided to go another direction. Namely, a list of the things I'm not thankful for. I mean, think about it: It's easy to be grateful, but it takes real talent -- especially in this land o' plenty -- to be an ingrate.
So here's a sampling of the stuff for which I definitely will NOT be giving thanks anytime soon:
* Those wintertime temperature inversions that make the Top of Utah's air quality look like 19th-century London.
* "Check engine" lights. Granted, most of my personal vehicles have been around the block a time or two, but I've yet to own one that didn't have a constant problem with this particular warning light. Thankfully, that's what electrical tape is for. A well-placed strip on the instrument panel and -- voila! -- problem solved.
* The invention of cholesterol. (Remember the good old days, when we didn't have to worry about our health?)
* Lazy people who can't be bothered with returning their shopping carts to the designated cart corrals at the grocery store.
* People who wear too much cologne/perfume.
* People who don't wear enough deodorant.
* Stoplights that take FOREVER to change. As a for-instance, there's a light in Farmington on Main Street and Shepherd Lane. Some days, if you're trying to turn left onto Main from Shepherd, you can quite literally run out of gas waiting for a green light.
* Retail stores that have decided to move up Black Friday to Even Blacker Thursday Afternoon.
* Computer hackers/spammers. If there is a more useless group of losers on the planet, I'm not aware of it.
* Payday lenders and their outrageous interest charges. OK, so I was wrong about that whole computer hackers comment.
* Plastic headlight covers on vehicles. So, what Einstein came up with that brilliant idea? Invariably, the plastic becomes less and less transparent until it has the opacity of a gallon milk jug, diffusing the light to the point where it's pointless to even bother with your headlights at night.
* Teeth. Specifically, how the only way to truly keep them clean is to slide a piece of dental floss between them. Really? That's the answer? Flossing? It's just always seemed like a serious design flaw to me.
But for all these things I'm ungrateful for, there is one thing for which we can all agree we're truly thankful.
This whiny column is finally over.
Speaking of gallon milk jugs, guess what item figures prominently in Mark Saal's holiday lighting scheme this year. Contact him at 801-625-4272 or email@example.com.