Late in the afternoon on Christmas Day I found myself becoming restless. All the yuletide matters had been seen to that day, from the opening of gifts, to the making of family and friend phone calls, to the consuming of assorted substances not noted in assorted smug healthful-living compendia for their salutary properties.
Meanwhile, dinner was on its way and, while turkey is not truly a favorite meal (other than the sandwiches to follow the next day) the fragrance in the kitchen was nevertheless inviting. Good (non-Christmas) music was playing in the background and the lights on the tree were a-twinkling. All seemed to have been good.
Yet, my restlessness persisted. Something was missing from my life. Yet what? We’d had a peaceful Christmas in a placid home. The weather was lousy and wet and windy, but that’s a seasonal norm, so that wasn’t it. As I sat on the sofa next to the coffee table, it came to me. There had been no daily newspapers that day. I was suffering from newspaper withdrawal that was almost like a minor version of what drug withdrawal must feel like, though that is only speculative since I have never gone through the rigors of that agony.
But, as a counselor who has worked in a rehab, I’ve watched plenty of others endure the process and it’s not a pretty sight. Albeit I wasn’t sweating profusely or puking, but I did get a profound feeling of discontent, which told me something to, which I was attached was missing from my life and that was detracting from my general relaxation of the day.
You see, I have been around newspapers for much of my adult life, both as a reader and as a person vitally involved in the process of giving other people something to read. And there is nothing in our contemporary technological changes, such as papers on line (and assuredly not television news which, even at its best, which is rare, can only offer a glimpse of what is happening, with no analysis whatsoever) that take from me my need to have genuine newsprint in my hands. It’s part of my soul, I daresay. And don’t hand me any of that wimpy nonsense about how papers get ink all over your hands. That is only because papers were forced, in the name of environmental ‘niceness’ to stop using indelible ink and embrace biodegradable stuff.
When I travel the first purchase I make anywhere is a local newspaper just so I can get at least a glimpse of what is important in the lives of the folks whose home area I am visiting. It gives me, I tell myself, an ‘understanding’ of who they are and how they think. So, if I’m Southern California, Hawaii, or London, I get me my papers. When we were in the Cook Islands a number of years ago I was initially at a loss. Other than a rather quaint weekly local rag (with half the content in Cook Islands Maori) there seemed no other choice. But then, one day in Avarua (the capital and the only burg of any substance) I found a newsagent. And the store stocked the Auckland NZ daily paper a day late. I felt palpable relief. If I am in a country in which English is not the lingua franca, then I get me a copy of the International Herald Tribune.
Eventually Christmas day lapsed into the 26th and the papers came back. My relief was profound. I could check out what was happening and then get on with my life.
OK, so I am an addict, and I am an addict in full-denial, and I am proud of it.