Monday, December 04, 2006

21 Days

This weekend was busy. I spent all day Saturday supervising the volunteers from my woman’s club as we rang bells for the Salvation Army. It was bitterly cold out and I was prepared to have several no-shows but, to my delight, everyone who signed up to ring actually showed and, for the most part, they were cheerful and happy to be there. We were assigned to four different locations throughout town and I spent the majority of my time shuttling hot chocolate back and forth to the ringers. This gave me a chance to visit with my friends and to observe the townspeople as they came and went and, I have to say, the generosity of people was amazing; the kettles were full to overflowing by the end of the day, people gave happily and without hesitation. I can think of far worse ways to spend a day.

Sunday evening, I hosted an after-hours party at one of our downtown boutiques. It was a unique opportunity for my friends and I to have the store all to ourselves and, with the assistance of the staff, we spent several hours trying on outfits and putting together new wardrobes. Each of my guests got 15% off their purchases as well as a gift bag of goodies from the store. As the hostess, I got 30% off and I took full advantage of it; I now have some nice outfits for work as well as dressier outfits for the up-coming holiday parties that Hugh and I will be attending.

Today I am working the internet, finishing up the last of my gift shopping for Hugh and the kids. Tonight, I need to make cookies and, to further get into the holiday spirit; the children and I will break out one of the holiday videos which brings us to the topic of today’s My Favorite Holiday Things segment: Television and Movie Classics.

Oooh! Ahhh! Try to contain your enthusiasm.

-Rudolph and the Island of Misfit Toys. This has been a favorite of mine for as long as I can remember. My mom used to coordinate her cookie baking schedule with the TV Guide so that we could watch this while decorating sugar cookies. The apple, it appears, really doesn’t fall far from the tree.

-Frosty the Snowman. Almost always came on immediately following Rudolph, clearly the networks employed scheduling brainiacs who knew a captive audience when they had one.

-Santa Claus is Coming to Town. My all-time favorite. I loved that Santa had red hair. I loved Miss Jessica’s humongous blue eyes. I even loved the annoying penguin. The Winter Warlock’s heart melting? How could you not love that?! And, every year, when my father cursed our artificial tree for his inability to properly align the color-coded branches with the correct holes on the center pole, my sisters and I declared him the Burgermeister Meisterburger. Good times.

-The Little Drummer Boy. Inevitably, the networks played this one either on Christmas Eve or early Christmas morning then, when I was a teenager; it inexplicably disappeared from the line-up. I missed it and, when it came out on video while I was in college, I mentioned how much I had loved it to the family for whom I was working as a nanny. A few days later, they presented me with a copy of it as well as copies of Santa Claus is Coming to Town and Rudolph and the Island of Misfit Toys as my Christmas gift. They were very good people.

-The Christmas Story. This movie serves as an icon of to childhood whether you celebrated Christmas or not. The unwanted gift of the pink bunny suit from an aunt? Who hasn’t gotten a wildly inappropriate gift from a relative? Licked a pole in the wintertime just to see what would happen? Accidentally dropped the F-bomb in front of the parental unit and, as a result, tasted soap? No? Just me? Hmmm. On the other hand, had my father ever come home with a lamp shaped like a woman’s gartered leg, I think I might have needed therapy. You know, worse than I do, already.

-National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. This movie was released in 1989. It is just as funny today as it was back then. Hugh relates really well to this movie. He and Clark are simpatico souls and we usually have the outdoor Christmas lighting to prove it although, thankfully, no squirrel in our tree or hillbilly cousin parked in our driveway. Well, not this year, anyway.

-Charlie Brown Christmas. AAAUUUGGGHHH! How could you not love Charlie Brown? This was one of the few holiday movies that we actually got to watch in school. In fact, to kick off Christmas vacation, all the elementary kids were herded into the auditorium, handed a paper bag containing peanuts, a candy cane, an orange and a handful of chocolate bells and told to watch quietly. At the time it seemed like quite the treat. It wasn't until I did my student-teaching in the same elementary school that I learned that the real treat was that the movie bought the teachers a bit of quiet time in the lounge to throw thier staff party.

-How the Grinch Stole Christmas. The Dr. Suess version, not that abomination staring Jim Carrey. And I'm quite certain that all the Whos down in Whoville would agree.

-It’s A Wonderful Life. James Stewart was HOT. Don’t get me wrong, the story is fabulous, it’s message is as pertinent today as it was all those years ago and I never make it through a viewing without a box of Kleenex but, still…hello, Jimmy!

Plus, I really do believe that every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings.

Which, considering all of the bells that I heard ringing on Saturday, means there must have been a graduation at the Angel Academy.

And I feel pretty good about that.

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