Should auld acquaintance be forgot, look again

You want to start the New Year on a positive note, with a flash of brilliance or a moment of inspiration or a sense of accomplishment. It doesn’t help that you’re hung over, you sleep through your alarm, and you realize too late you’ve run out of coffee. And toilet paper.

This year, none of that nonsense for me. I planned ahead, in order to increase my chances of experiencing brilliance, inspiration, and accomplishment. I did not imbibe to excess on New Year’s Eve. I made sure we were stocked up on coffee and toilet paper. Yes, I did pamper myself by not setting a wakeup alarm — but this, I promised myself, would be my only self-indulgence of the New Year. Thereafter in 2022, I would be wise, prudent, diligent, self-controlled, productive.

This fantasy lasted till about 10 a.m.

I awoke to disappointment. Glancing out at my driveway, I saw that my Boston Sunday Globe had not been delivered. This happens from time to time; not a big deal: You can request a credit online. And who could blame the newspaper delivery person for failing to make his rounds, or missing one house, on New Year’s, a morning foggy in more ways than one? Just hop in your car, zip down Linebrook Road — thanking God you live less than a mile from Cumby’s — buy a paper, and you’re back home in 8 minutes or less.

The online credit request could wait — I needed the replacement Globe right away. I always like to sit in my living room easy chair with a cup of coffee and make my way at a leisurely pace through the paper and be finished in time to log on for the 10:15 service at Ascension Church. So there I was, sailing into Cumby’s, greeting my worker-friends with a cheery “Happy New Year,” heading toward the rack of newspapers.

Another moment of disappointment: The Boston Sunday Globe, normally fat and heavy, was shockingly meager — four emaciated little sections. I know print journalism has been hit hard in recent years, and with mixed feelings I realize that I have contributed in part to its demise, by reducing my Boston Globe subscription from daily to Sundays only. But to see this long-distinguished publication reduced to such a trifle — no longer able to pay reporters, perhaps, or afford so much paper and ink — was heartbreaking.

I brought my newspaper home with a grim sense of woe. First Betty White dies, now this.

Even the full-color comics section, always a highlight of my week, had been decimated. A few spare comic strips were tucked in to odd, awkward spaces inside the final spread. On this first day of the New Year, the world as I knew it was crumbling before my eyes.

In moments of grief, we turn to God. As I logged on to the church’s Facebook page, I felt confident that I would receive solace, the means to recalibrate my sorrow, to begin this New Year anew.

Imagine how shattering it is to find that not only has your newspaper shrunk — your church has disappeared.

Ascension’s Facebook page was just sitting there on the screen, static and silent.

I knew that the church’s leaders had committed strongly to making services available online. And with all their fancy new equipment, added just weeks ago, they couldn’t possibly be blacked out by technical difficulties. Certainly the entire Episcopal Church hadn’t given up the ghost, had it? Serving as a voice of reason had gotten that difficult?

No, in spite of how weirdly this morning was unfolding — a morning worthy of yet another Matrix sequel — there had to be some logical explanation.

And yes, there was indeed. Suddenly, I saw it, on the screen of my trusty iPhone.

It was Saturday, not Sunday.

So much for my grand New Year. On the road to brilliance, inspiration, and accomplishment, first things first: Don’t be a dunderhead.


Doug Brendel lives on outer Linebrook Road in Ipswich, Massachusetts. After he masters the calendar, he plans to work on learning to tell time. Follow his antics at DougBrendel.com.

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