Sunday, April 14, 2013

Tax Season begins mid-January for us. After the New Year's hangover has worn off, one uneventful day we get out one of those white storage boxes that look like all the others and write the last Year of Our Lord on the side with a fat Sharpie. Then Mrs. Ditchman begins filling it with stapled receipts and wild spreadsheets and mindless job reports and post-it notes with impressive figures scrawled on them. And then we do the Winter Home Show, where we blow whatever money we had left after Christmas just to get in on the action. That same weekend is the Carlsbad Marathon and Half, so it's a busy time. And the following week, there is no resting up to recoup any energies, real or imagined. It's work as much as possible to get caught up on the bills, trying to avoid the rainy days and still get ahead of the game.

February begins with Lincoln's birthday. Not that Lincoln, our Lincoln. He's our new little tax for the season, so something must be planned: cake, presents, family wanting to show up. A couple days later is my mother-in-law's -ahem- Grannie's birthday, which needs at least an equal amount of attention, to keep the peace. And then there's my birthday, which I always try to get out of, followed swiftly by Serena's birthday, who demands all manner of celebration. The imperfectly-named "Spring Break" arrives with nowhere for the kids to go but in your face, so less is accomplished around the house. And at the end of that week is the Ditchman anniversary, which usually goes unattended and without the respect it ever deserves. The next week is Mrs. Ditchman's birthday, who also deserves more than she ever gets, and then there's Easter -our holiday, where everyone is welcome. We cook and play and eat and drink and host, and wonder how we can survive to afford it. The next day the phone rings and it's Grandpa, wondering why we forgot his birthday. But we are busy on our way to the Carlsbad 5000 that weekend, which every Ditchman must certainly, and always, run. And then, bam, the Spring Home Show.

When you're just getting up off the floor, Tax Day thwacks you hard in the back with an obnoxious, soul-hardening guffaw, the old friend you never really liked. So, you see, Tax Season is just a series of endless parties, bookended by professional footraces and home-and-garden expos. And if you made any money at all in the interim, and kidded yourself that you were actually getting ahead, on April 15th, or thereabouts, you send all the money you have to the government. Everything is liquidated. Checks cross in the mail, and fingers cross behind your back. You spend your energy on hope, itself. The miracle of a garage sale is considered. The magic of eBay is conjured. And there's always Craig, and his preternatural List. And your daily prayers.

Then you shrug. You sigh. You get back out to work, and keep hoping it will all work out.

It's Tax Season. But summer's coming, and the weather is warming up, when everyone, God-willing, will be looking for shade.