Twas a Wine Country Christmas

’Twas a Wine Country Christmas

by Daedalus Howell
Dec 22, 2011 – 03:01 PM
Daedalus HowellDaedalus Howell

For me, fending off the holiday blues is like besting Death at chess. Good for you, wood-pusher, you won but (spoiler alert) you’re still going to die. This is how it ended for Max Von Sydow in “The Seventh Seal” and it’s how all games with Death eventually end. Chess, or whatever, is merely a distraction. Just ask Bobby Fischer. Oh, wait, you can’t – he’s dead.

This isn’t one of those deals where the proviso, “let the wookie win,” helps make sense of it all. The wookie has already won. The game is rigged. Boo-hoo. Our mission, if we choose to accept it, is to put our pieces on the board and do our best regardless.

Here are some strategies for the chess game of life: Play nice, play well but don’t play to win. Play to play as one might live to live, love to love and drink to drink. You can also rearrange these: Love to drink, live to love, love to live and live to drink another day. That way we might all win the game of life.

I, of course, know where the “instant win” spot is located. At least in terms of my annual holiday column – I’ve got 400 words of ready-made Christmas-themed copy I roll out every year and reassemble like an artificial tree. It owes a debt to Clement C. Moore as well as the fine wines of Sonoma Valley. Despite this pedigree, it is something of a literary fruitcake. So feel free to re-gift it. Have a holly jolly holiday!

* * *

’Twas a Wine Country Christmas and all through his cellar

Were stowed bottles of vino and this lucky feller;

His name was St. Nick and Sonoma his pride

As his schedule permitted he’d come here to hide

My host remarked, “Now, don’t judge a wine by its label”

Which made me afraid of ending up under the table

“All things in moderation,” he said with glee

As he began opening bottles – one, two and three!

“Now, Ledson! now, Landmark! now, Kamen and Castle!

On, Gundlach! on, Bundschu! on Haywood and Hanzell!

Let’s pop some corks and fill up our cups

We’ll drink upside down just to say “Bottom’s up!”

Champagne gushed like geysers, merlot poured like rain

Zins went straight to my head and the cabs to my brain

He said, “Every bottle’s a vacation, every sip a holiday!”

As he washed down pinot with a fine chardonnay

My teeth had turned purple, my cheeks had gone red

I’d say, “Just a taste” but a carafe came instead

Now the cellar was spinning and my view was a blur

An eloquent drunk, I made poetry of slurs

“Damn, you drunken elf, I’m going to bed,”

as visions of cirrhosis danced through my head

I crawled on my knees, for I’d forgotten my swagger

I’d decline a straight line but would be happy to stagger

As I lumbered and lurched toward the cellar door

he brandished a corkscrew and simply said “More.”

He throttled a bottle and commanded me, “Drink”

“‘Tis the season,” I reasoned, as I drank to the brink

His generosity proved as grand as his cellar was vast

But who will drive the sleigh after our vintner’s repast?

He tugged at his beard, his sparkling eye winked

“That’s why I’ve got elves, why what did you think?”

Embarrassed as I was at my implied accusation

He guffawed from his belly and poured another libation

Now, I’m not one to moralize, especially in carol

But the fact remains when one’s over the barrel

Designate a driver or a get a taxi on the line

And Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good wine!