Passage #484: 19 December 2018

Stocking Stuffers


There are the big gifts: the thing you've always wanted; the thoughtful gesture that reinforces the bond with the giver; the practical thing that will change your life for the better. These can be wrapped up in paper and bow or unveiled with a dramatic flourish. Here, the anticipation is part of the presentation. Part of the gift is the interval between knowing that you have it and knowing what it is. That is not where the emotional resonance of the stocking stuffer lies, however. It's a sock, and a bunch of neat little surprises come tumbling out of it. Thoughtfulness and usefulness are almost beside the point; what matters is the childish joy of accumulation*, that you Got a Thing -- indeed, several Things all at once.

So it is with this week's ride. There is no hilltop destination we've always been wanting to visit, no oddball cultural relic that reframes its surroundings in interesting ways. It's just a few old favorites, a few twists and turns and streets we haven't ridden before - maybe not especially important in their own right, but still pretty satisfying when taken all together.

* We'll leave aside here the question of just how troubled we should be that we are encouraged to carry this consumerist impulse with us well into adulthood, or just how harmful that might be to the planet or our collective psyche. We can say with pretty high certainty, though, that stocking stuffers in bicycle ride form are considerably less harmful. So we can take joy in that, anyway.


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