David Bouchier: A Few Well Chosen Words

David Bouchier’s weekly essays are full of unexpected observations and whimsical opinions. Listeners will relish his entertaining, enlightening, and sometimes exasperated commentaries on the routines that carry us through the year, the surreal rituals of politics, the unsettling experience of foreign travel, and the confusions and comedies of everyday suburban life.

You can hear David Bouchier on-air Monday mornings or by subscribing to his podcast, A Few Well Chosen Words.

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New Year: it’s a strange liminal date, full of anxiety and hope and empty resolutions. The artificial changing of the calendar makes us feel that something important should happen, but what? Are we looking forwards with hope, or backwards with nostalgia? In 1825 John Quincy Adams admonished the nation to “Think of your forefathers! Think of your posterity!” Well, that’s not the kind of message we want to hear nowadays. 

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Christmas Eve was the most exciting day of the year when I was a child. I don’t think anything has quite lived up to it since. We were alone in the house, my parents and I. Christmas Day was the big day for us, when the house would fill and overflow with aunts, uncles, friends, cousins, my formidable Grandmother, and anyone else who could squeeze in. For years I thought this was because we had the best house, or because my parents were so popular, or even because I was so popular.

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This is celebrated as the season of good news, and nobody can deny that we need some of that. We’ve certainly had plenty of bad news lately. But on the other hand we’ve had no shortage of bad news ever since I was born, starting with World War II, then the Cold War, when for more than forty years we had the daily expectation of being bombed into radioactive dust by those wicked communists. Oddly enough, they never got around to it. 

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This is the sociable month, the month of eating dangerously. In December we will eat out much more, be invited to more dinner parties, and even give a few of our own. There will be buffets, with food of unknown antiquity, mystery meals from over-stressed restaurant cooks, and far too much of everything. Thanksgiving was just a warmup exercise. Now we really have to eat.

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At the end of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade comes the most popular saint in Christendom, Saint Nicholas a.k.a. Santa Claus, a.k.a. Father Christmas. His benevolent appearance signals the official start of the holiday shopping season. The pressure is on. We need to think about gifts for our nearest and dearest, and for ourselves.