Saturday, December 14, 2013

Peaceful Day In Oaklyn

Began a cloudy, chilly day with this week's American Top 40 re-run. We jumped ahead two years to 1982. While my sister and I were waiting for the arrival of Santa Claus and spending time with our mommy, the rest of the country decorated their trees to the tune of pop, ballads, New Wave, and R&B. Hits from mid-December of that year included "Gloria" by Laura Branigan, "Shadow of the Night" by Pat Benetar, "It's Raining Again" by Supertramp, "Heartbreaker" by Dionne Warwick, "Down Under" by Men At Work, "The Girl Is Mine" by Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson, "Truly" by Lionel Richie, "Rock This Town" by the Stray Cats, "Sexual Healing" by Marvin Gaye, and "Steppin' Out" by Joe Jackson. That week's big hit had folks cheering through the holidays - "Hey Mickey" by former cheerleader and choreographer Toni Basil.

I spent about an hour eating breakfast and watching Arthur's Perfect Christmas before heading out to run a couple of errands. First on the list was volunteering at the Oaklyn Library. I got there about a half-hour after they opened. Between the chilly day and the early hour, the only other people there were the librarian on duty and a volunteer wiping down the tables. I organized the DVDs and the children's picture books in a little over a half-hour.

The big errand for today was getting to the post office. I wanted to get my packages for Lauren and Linda and James out, before the holiday rush got any worse. I actually got pretty lucky. I managed to find two appropriate boxes quickly, and the line in the tiny, one-room Oaklyn Post Office was long, but not outrageously so. It moved quickly, and the postal worker in charge was in a good mood. I managed to get out before the line got really crazy-long.

My final stop was CVS. I wanted eggs and milk, and CVS is closer to the post office than WaWa (and their eggs and milk are cheaper). Bought a small bottle of dish-washing liquid for 99 cents, too. Alas, they didn't have any good toothpaste sales - I'll have to check the Acme on Friday. They also had long lines, but they opened more registers even as I brought my things to the counters.

Went straight home after that. It had briefly flurried while I was at CVS. I decided I was better off at home, avoiding the weather. I'd had enough of being out in it this week. Thankfully, it waited until well into the afternoon to actually start snowing.

When I got in, I put everything away, then went right into wrapping more presents. I got Skylar and Collyn's gifts done today and one that I intended for them to share. That totally finishes any dealing with non-food gifts for me. From tomorrow through Christmas Eve, I'll be working on food gifts for adults, families, and groups.

I spent the rest of the afternoon doing small things around the apartment, starting with taking this year's Christmas doll and decoration display photos. Here's the results:

Christmas at the Riverside Rest 2013

After that, I colored craft items and worked on crocheting coasters to replace the old woven Christmas-themed ones I got from Mom that I made on one of those potholder looms as a kid. When I got bored with that, I made Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies from dark chocolate cake mix and chocolate chips, then made Apple-Bread Pudding to get rid of old bread and two apples that were getting really soft.

I ran movies and holiday specials throughout the afternoon and evening. Did The Muppet's Christmas Carol while I was wrapping the last of the gifts. This is a pretty standard version of Christmas Carol, only with the Muppets in many of the lead roles. Michael Caine is a very effective Scrooge.

Next did the 1955 Babes In Toyland broadcast with Barbara Cook, then moved to two Muppet holiday specials. Muppet Family Christmas brings most of the Muppets in existence in the mid-80s together to celebrate some Christmas cheer at Fozzie's mother's farm. Emmett Otter's Jug Band Christmas is a little less colorful, but no less heartfelt. The poverty-stricken title character and his mother face a bare Christmas. A local talent show may hold the answer to their problems, but in order to enter it, they have to sacrifice the things that currently provide them with income and take a chance on a new life.

Moved to Rise of the Guardians as I made baked spiced chicken legs, roasted Brussels sprouts, honey-glazed carrots, and a small baked sweet potato for dinner. This Dreamworks action movie from last year involves "the Guardians of Childhood," four magical heroes based after mythical childhood characters - Santa Claus (North), the Easter Bunny (Bunnymund), the Tooth Fairy (Toothalia), and the Sandman (Sandy). Santa wants mischievous Jack Frost to join their number. Accustomed to being a lone ranger and confused about his past, Jack isn't interested at first...until the Guardians are threatened by Pitch, the Boogeyman who encourages fear and nightmares in children. When Pitch steals Toothalia's teeth and her helpers, he sets in motion events that decrease the ability of children to believe in the Guardians...except for one little boy who teaches Jack that nothing is hopeless, if you can find one person who believes in you.

Really, really strange. I have the feeling this one might make more sense in its original form as a series of graphic novels and children's books than as a movie. Stunning animation, though, and I do like the idea of all the beloved guardians of childhood working and fighting together together. (And Santa Claus with two swords and tattoos? Very cool.) Not something I'm going to buy, but I didn't mind the rental. Your mileage may vary, depending on how much you like animation or the premise.

I ran a couple of quick Christmas specials as I cleaned up from dinner. Ironically, I got The Snowman on as the earlier snow changed into rain. This British Oscar-nominee tells the story of a little boy and the fun he has one Christmas night with his frosty friend. Max & Ruby have their own holiday fun finding a present for Grandma and decorating their Christmas tree.

Finished out the night in the bath. Lauren wasn't going to be on until later, so I had the time for a good, long soak. I read The Great Santa Search and the It's a Wonderful Christmas and Miracle On 34th Street books Linda gave me last week, and thought over everything I finished last week, and all the baking I have planned for next week.

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