I began the day with baking Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Bars for my friend Lauren and her parents' Christmas box after breakfast. Ran The Muppets' Christmas Carol as I worked. Michael Caine is Scrooge in this 1993 version of the Dickens novella. Kermit the Frog is Bob Cratchit, Miss Piggy is his wife, Fozzie is Fezziwig, Robin is Tiny Tim, Gonzo is the narrator, and Rizzo's just around for the food. I've always liked this version - the music is fun, Caine's an effective Scrooge, and the Muppets fit the Victorian setting better than you might believe. Recommended for fans of musicals, Muppet lovers, or those just looking for a good family-oriented version of A Christmas Carol.
Charlie showed up while I was working on the cookies. He said he wanted to get into the back room to work on something between 11:30 and 3:30. I didn't plan on being around then, so that was fine by me. They just had to clean up after themselves.
Moved onto Charlie Brown's Christmas Tales while tidying up and getting ready to head out. This "special" is just a series of holiday-themed Peanuts skits intended to fill out an hour spot with A Charlie Brown Christmas. As such, there's some cute material, including Sally writing to "Samantha Claus" and how she gets a tree and Linus and Lucy writing to Santa.
First on the agenda was lunch. I opted for my usual cheese and mushroom pizza slices and a can of the new Mountain Dew flavor Cherry Citrus (one of their Call of Duty-based "Game Fuel" flavors). The college students behind the counter were blasting hard rock music and ESPN. It was so beautiful out, I opted for a quieter meal outside on one of the wooden tables.
The next stop was a quick one at the Oaklyn Library. I concentrated on organizing DVDs. I was going to do the kids' area, but the class arrived for a story, Herschel and the Hanukkah Goblin. I didn't want to disrupt them.
It was too nice of a day to sit inside, anyway. I made my way to Westmont through Newton River Park. Though some trees still have crackly brown leaves, most are bare now. The river sparkles like a green satin ribbon on gold and green wrapping paper. Needless to say, there were quite a few people out strolling, mothers pushing their children in in strollers, dog walkers, joggers. I dodged them, Canadian geese looking for lunch, and men working on the street on the Cuthbert Road side of the park.
The Haddon Township Library wasn't much busier than the Oaklyn Library. It was too lovely for people to be inside! I had plenty of room to shelve DVDs, new releases, and audio books and CDs. This time, I got most of the adult titles on, but those darn S DVDs were still overflowing on the kids' racks. I took out the holiday specials Prep & Landing and Gift of the Night Fury, the Christmas episodes of Shaun the Sheep and the current version of Angelina Ballerina, and the movie Arthur Christmas.
Made a few quick errand runs next. I peeked at Tuesday Morning, but their prices on Christmas boxes and bags still weren't all that great. (And still no new Ever After High dolls.) Dollar Tree had the opposite problem. Their stock of bags and boxes had been heavily depleted. I had a hard time finding a box that would be the right size for cookies. Also bought a card for my nephew Collyn's birthday this weekend and a bucket for the Acme's cookies next week. Went across the street to Rite Aid and bought eggs and a present for Lauren...then remembered that I'd forgotten to get the other things I wanted for her from Game Stop. I had to go back across a busy Cuthbert to grab them.
I finally got home around 3:30. To my annoyance, when I got in the back room to get the presents to wrap, I found a mess. Charlie and his men had put nothing back where it belonged. They hadn't even turned the dolls' clothing rack the right way. I was not a happy camper. I don't know why it was so difficult for them to put everything away where I had it. I wouldn't go into their house and leave it like that.
Went right into wrapping presents. I want to get the packages for Lauren and her parents and Linda and James Young out in the mail by Saturday morning. Anny's and Mom and Dad-Bill's packages (they and Linda and James are getting cookies) will go out the weekend or Monday before Christmas.
Ran the Angelina Ballerina disc The Nutcracker Sweet while I got the presents wrapped. I was rather disappointed that there was very little Christmas-oriented about this series of episodes. The first one had two of Angelina's best girlfriends competing to go with her to see The Nutcracker. She finally gives up her ticket so they can both go. Her dad tries to cheer her up with dancing. (I don't know why she didn't just tell both of them to knock it off and either not take anyone or another friend.) Teamwork was also a problem in another story. Angelina and Vicki are assigned to work with A.J and Gracie to develop a dance for class. A.J wants to do breakdancing; Gracie, tap. They argue over which style to use and end up not speaking to each other. Angelina and Vicki finally come up with another style of dancing that requires no practice and is even more fun - square dancing!
After I got everything cleaned up, I went right into working on my story. I'm still doing more re-writing. Betty now works at the factory as the Christmas card writer and designer. Mr. Barnaby has gotten orders from a grieving Mother Gloria Goose that they are to stop making toys and start making things for adults like adding machines that don't remind her of Christmas or her late husband. Mr. Eldridge reminds him that he still owns part of the factory, too. Lisa gives Betty and Scott the idea to give Pruitt Barnaby what he wants...and still continue to make toy orders for Santa...
I started marinating chicken breasts for Italian Chicken and Tomatoes with Brussels sprouts before I began writing. It was ready for cooking by 6:30. I had it with whole wheat pasta. It's an easy recipe that doesn't require a lot of cooking besides the chicken and tastes good every time.
Watched Gift of the Night Fury while I cooked and ate. In this How To Train Your Dragon holiday tale, the Vikings are ready to share their winter festival Snoggletog with their new dragon friends. They're all disappointed when the dragons fly off, even Toothless. While Hiccup tries to figure out why they've left, the other Viking kids create new traditions (like drinking yak nog) to try to make the remaining townspeople feel better.