In most ways, December in Dallas is just like the last month of the year in any other American city. In the state where everything is bigger, holiday shopping checkout lines and discounts are Texas-sized. Christmas still comes on December 25th, and despite the inhospitable habitat for reindeer, Rudolph and the gang still drop Santa off at every rooftop across D-Town. There will be parties for hosting, marshmallows toasting, and caroling - not out in the snow.
Yet, despite most of the season's wonderfulness, Dallas rues the 31 days of December more than Whoville resents The Grinch. In the season of giving, the only gifts the revered Cowboys seem capable of giving their faithful fans are stomach aches and heart breaks.
Since the beginning of the millenium, America's Team has posted a futile 15-27 record in December games. Like a thoroughbred that habitually drops to the back of the pack race after race, the Cowboys fade down the stretch season after season with almost impressive consistency - no matter how hard owner Jerry Jones cracks his whip.
During the '90s, the Cowboys wrangled a trio of Lombardi Trophies for the Lone Star State. As this decade comes to a close, forget about dynasties - Dallas is where dreams of division titles and playoff berths come to tease the locals for a short while, then die.
In the ten seasons that have elapsed since the first digit of the Gregorian calendar year changed to a 2, the Cowboys have boasted a winning overall record six times, but a winning December record just once in 2001.
And although this may sound downright tasteless, it can be argued that the tragedy of 9-11 actually allowed America's Team to enjoy an exception in this pattern. If the NFL had not suspended play for a week following the Al Qaeda attacks, the Cowboys would have finished December with a 2-3 record. Instead, their Week 17 loss against Detroit was ultimately pushed back to Jauary while a Week 12 victory over Washington that was delayed into December helped the Cowboys break the .500 barrier.
Even with at the acme of success, Dallas encountered the same cataclysmic December disappointment. In 2007, Tony Romo and company won a conference-best 13 games during the regular season against just 3 losses - of which 2 came in December against division rivals.
Already 2009 seems no different. As the clock struck midnight on December 1st, the Philadelphia Eagles were perched one game behind the first-place Cowboys, while the flailing New York Giants and their injury-ridden roster seemed to be down for the count. Two weeks and two devastating losses later, Dallas finds itself in familiar territory - drowning in the doomsdays of December, clinging onto the last NFC playoff spot for dear life.
Adding to this misery, the Eagles are once again flying high in the winter frost with consecutive remarkable aerial displays in crucial contests against the Falcons and Giants, putting Philadelphia atop the NFC East.
Looking ahead at the three weeks remaining in the season, the dismay of Dallas Decembers past seems destined to repeat itself once again. On Saturday, the Cowboys venture into the Superdome to face the undefeated New Orleans Saints, who despite their recent struggles, will most likely delight their home crowd. Just days after Christmas, the Cowboys are forced to renew their rivarly with the suddenly resurgent Redskins, whose defense held Tony Romo's offense to just seven points (albeit in a loss) earlier this season.
Then, at long last, comes the game that every Dallas fan has had circled since last December: a rematch with Philadelphia in the last week of the season. Last year, the Eagles embarrassed their despised guests at Lincoln Financial Field, erupting for five touchdowns in a 44-6 blowout that cost the Cowboys their wildcard berth. Meanwhile, McNabb and the Eagles ventured deep into the postseason, coming up just short of a trip to the Super Bowl.
Looking at the schedule, however, this year's rematch presents an intriguing twist: the game is in January.
Reason to rejoice in Dallas? Not exactly.
The Cowboys are 0-4 in January games this decade - and one of those losses featured Tony Romo infamously snatching defeat from the jaws of victory by dropping a snap as holder for what would have been an easy game-winning field goal against Seattle.
Assuming Philadelphia takes care of business once again on January 3rd, maybe Dallas should draft a petition to start the season in July and move the Super Bowl to November.