Friday, December 19, 2014

The Spirit of Christmas

Started a cloudy morning with breakfast and Arthur's Perfect Christmas. Aardvark kid Arthur Read is looking forward to the perfect holiday, filled with beautiful trees, lots of presents, snow on the ground, and a huge turkey dinner. His little sister D.W just wants the latest toy, despite the commercial driving her brother nuts. Muffy, the richest girl in school, doesn't understand why her best friend Francine can't come to her Christmas party. When Muffy asks her why she wasn't there, Francine explains how important Hanukkah is to her. Inspired by the Brain telling him how Kwanzaa was created, Buster tries to get his mother to relax and enjoy their own kind of holiday.

Work was busy off and on all day. While it still wasn't as bad as it probably will be next week, the lines were generally a bit longer than they have been. Thankfully, it slowed down enough by 4 PM that I was able to shut down without a relief.

Which was a good thing. I had a LOT of grocery shopping to do! I had tons of items I needed to restock after last week - cake mix (yellow and chocolate, plus red velvet for cupcakes), cheese, those dollar single packs of fish, cinnamon red-hots for cookie-decorating, fabric softener sheets, ground chicken, white and powdered sugar, tea (went with Bigalow's Constant Comment - I couldn't find the Christmas tea displays), more Acme generic Italian Wedding Soup, grapefruit, apples, and mushrooms. Bags of cut produce were a dollar - went with the vegetable stir fry mix. The Cascade sparkling waters were 88 cents - grabbed the Coconut. They had the limited edition holiday bags of Emerald nuts, too. A lot of my customers had raved about the Glazed Pecans, so I thought I'd give them a shot.

My schedule for Christmas week is far better and less hectic than it was last year. While I do work 7 hours Christmas Eve and very early the day after Christmas, that's really to be expected, given the holiday. Otherwise, my hours are pretty normal for this time of year, with Monday and Christmas Day off. I'll actually have the chance to get some library volunteering in along with all the usual errands.

When I got home, I changed into regular clothes, then put everything away. Started It's A Wonderful Life while making Cherry Coconut Bars (and to drown out the men working on the heater downstairs). George Bailey (James Stewart) thinks he's never done anything with his life, despite his loan business having created dozens of homes for the people of his town and having a loving wife (Donna Reed) and children. The nasty financier who owns most of the town (Lionel Barrymore) is accusing him of having stolen money from the loan company, even though it was really just lost. He's ready to end it all when a kindly old man (Henry Travers) stops him from jumping off a bridge. Turns out the old man is an angel who hasn't gotten his wings yet. When George makes a chance remark that he wishes he'd never been born, Clarence makes it literal. George finally discovers what a wonderful life he really has, and how important his family and the people of the town are to him.

I find this to be one of the most touching films ever made, but it's not everyone's cup of Christmas tea. If you don't agree with Capra's pro-small-town sentiments, you probably won't get much out of this. The slightly sugary finale is offset by the last half-hour, which is so dark and moody, I was 12 before I'd watch it straight through. Even so, this is still highly recommended for those who grew up with its constant showings on television or families with older kids who are ready to discuss some of the concepts brought up in the film.

Oh, and the Cherry Coconut Bars are the last of the five batches of cookies I make for Christmas. They're really just Lemon Bars with a very sweet cherry-coconut filling, but I love them. They're too sweet to eat all the time, but for Christmas, they're delicious. A lot of other people like them, too. They're my second-most-requested cookie after the Merry Christmas Molasses Cookies. They came out perfectly this year, just moist and crumbly enough. (I always put cooking spray on the bottom of the pan, even though the recipe says not to. The one year I did that, I couldn't get the bars off the pan and ended up with very sweet crumbs.)

Finished out the night with tilapia in lemon wine sauce with stir-fry veggies and a couple of holiday-themed Disney shorts. "Once Upon a Wintertime" depicts the adventures of a pair of Victorian lovers whose skating trip doesn't go as smoothly as planned. "Santa's Workshop" shows what Santa and the elves do before Santa leaves for his big Christmas Eve ride. "The Night Before Christmas" is what Santa does at the last house on his stop.

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