David Bouchier

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.

New Year: it’s a strange liminal time, full of anxiety and hope and empty resolutions. The artificial changing of the calendar makes us feel that something momentous should happen, but it almost never does. Like every generation we prefer to think that we are living in a time of history-making events, but we may be living in a footnote to a book already written. The ancient Greeks believed that history was cyclical: the same events repeated over and over, like the programming on some cable television stations. This is a comforting philosophy.

On the twenty-sixth of December an air of exhaustion lies over the land, which is not surprising. The Holidays are a big commitment, both emotionally and financially. The day after is a kind of shock, not so much like hitting a brick wall as like falling off a cliff. Now what do we do?

One Christmas tradition that was not invented by Charles Dickens is also one of the strangest. Like so many traditions it has now crossed the Atlantic, and next weekend millions of Americans will enjoy, or be puzzled or infuriated by those gaudy little cylinders of paper called Christmas crackers.

Courtesy of Pixabay

Starting at 1 p.m.

Traditional: God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen / Robert Shaw; Shaw Chamber Singers Telarc 80377 CD

Traditional: My Dancing Day / Robert Shaw; Shaw Chamber Singers Telarc 80377 CD

Traditional: Good Christian Men Rejoice / Robert Shaw; Shaw Chamber Singers Telarc 80377 CD

Traditional: The Wassail Song Here we come a-Wassailing / Robert Shaw; Shaw Chamber Singers Telarc 80377 CD

As the great Holiday gift machine jumps into high gear, the same question is heard all around the land, in various tones of exasperation and despair: What on earth do you buy for a man? Men have always been a problem, of course, and in many different ways. But this particular problem is one of the most frustrating. Sigmund Freud famously asked: What does a woman want? But at this time of year the really difficult question is: What does a man want?