Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Somewhere In My Memory

My Christmas Eve began with a downpour. I was glad I'd called Dad last night and asked for a ride to work. I watched A Charlie Brown Christmas as I ate breakfast. Chuck is frustrated with all of the grab, grab around him. Sally just wants money. Lucy wants real estate and Schroeder, in approximately that order. Snoopy wants to win a local light display contest. Chuck joins his church pageant to try to get some holiday feeling, but the kids are more interested in dancing than pageants. The tiny tree he buys isn't appreciated...until Linus reminds everyone what the real meaning of the holiday is.

Moved on to How the Grinch Stole Christmas as I got ready for work. The Grinch is the grouchy green fellow who lives on Mount Crumpet. He doesn't like the noisy Christmas festivities of the Whos, who live in the valley below, so he decides to steal their goodies. It takes their annual Christmas sing-a-long - and the realization that Christmas means a lot more than toys, trees, and roast beast - for him to change his mind and return their goodies.

Squeaked a Christmas short before I had to go to work. Tom and Jerry's third starring short was a Christmas story, "The Night Before Christmas." It was also their first Oscar-nominated short. Tom isn't crazy about Jerry stirring in his home on Christmas Eve. He tries to chase him out, but when he actually succeeds, he remembers that the words "Peace on Earth, goodwill towards men" apply to cats and mice, too.

It was still raining, though not as hard, when Jodie took me to work. (She said she had to run to Wal Mart anyway.) Work was crazy when I came in, with very long lines, but it gradually cleared out as the day progressed. It was steady by noon, and pretty much stayed on-and-off steady the rest of the afternoon. Most people were in good moods, and thank heavens the computers ran far faster this year than they did last Christmas Eve. There were no gift card problems, either. The deli and bakery had trays of fruit and cookies and another crock pot of cocktail wieners in the back room later in the day.

By the time Dad picked me up, the rain had vanished all together, though the clouds remained. He dropped me off at my place so I could get organized and grab the presents to give to people at  his party tonight. Ran another short as I changed. "Mickey's Good Deed" is one of my favorite black-and-white Disney cartoons. Poor Mickey and Pluto are literally playing for their supper one cold Christmas Eve. Mickey gives up his most cherished possession to help a mother buy presents for her children...but he gets an even happier surprise later that night!

Speaking of surprises, there were a couple of them on my doorstep. One actually was hanging on my apartment door. Richard, Willa, and their family gave me a plate of cookies, peppermint bark, and a candy cane, along with a small bag that I put in my stocking to open tomorrow for a "stocking stuffer."

I have no idea where the basket of goodies that was on the stoop of the front apartment (or what's left of it) belongs. It has no label. It's huge, a big red bin filled with boxes of cookies, bags of Reece's Mini Peanut Butter Cups, and a big bag of piselles.

There was,  however, nothing for me from Mom or anyone on the Cape May side of the family. I was hoping she'd at least send a card. She usually does. I guess they're a little late. Mom's working at the Ferry for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year's. She really, really needs the money, and she doesn't have any kids at home anymore.

Dad's party wasn't quite as big as last year. Once again, a lot of people may have been scared off by the weather, despite the fact that it wasn't raining by quarter of 6. Jodie, Rose, Craig, and Khai were there, along with some neighbors whose children are friends of Khai's, Erica and her mother Miss Helen, Jodie's sons Jesse and T.J, Jesse's girlfriend Dana, and a couple of their friends. I was disappointed when Rose told me she, Craig, and Khai weren't coming to Dad and Jodie's brunch tomorrow. Rose has bronchitis - she was barely up and moving around for Christmas Eve. I wish she could have told me that sooner. I would have brought hers and Khai's gifts tonight.

At least the food was really good. There was turkey, ham, lasagna, Vanessa's macaroni and cheese, macaroni salad, sauteed asparagus with bacon, rolls and butter, and Rose's cookie plate. She made cherry sugar cookies with white chocolate middles, chocolate butter cookies with candy cane Hershey's Kiss middles (good idea - those things are so good, they deserve to be in a cookie), and plain small sugar cookies. Someone had a plate of those new filled chocolate chip and brownie cookies Pillsbury just started selling.

I was able to talk to a few people. I gave Mark and Vanessa their cookies. I greeted all of Jodie's relatives. Erica and Miss Helen thanked me profusely for the cookies. Erica and I traded retail stories (she works for TJMaxx in Cherry Hill now). The little kids requested The Empire Strikes Back in the den, while the adults watched Home Alone and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation on ABC Family in the living room. I had a long and involved chat with Khai's 7-year-old gal friend about pets, dolphins with prosthetic tails, and what she wanted for Christmas (stuffed 101 Dalmatians and Disney princess toys).

I left around 7:30. Rose and her family had left nearly an hour before. I caught Jessa and Joe just as they were coming in. Jessa said she wasn't sure if she was going to be at Dad's brunch tomorrow. I did what I could to talk her into it. I didn't want to be the only young adult there. She and Joe could catch a later movie.

They did give me a Christmas present, an adorably plump stuffed Pluto. He was more like a Pluto pillow than a stuffed animal. These kind of toys are called "tsum tsums," They're from Japan, and they're apparently very popular. At least I know I'll have a comfy sleep tonight! ; )

But I still felt glum walking home. I hadn't gotten a card - or anything - from anyone on the Cape May side of the family. I know Mom said they were busy and didn't have much money or time, but still. What I want for Christmas is for both sides of the family to be together in one place, like they were last year. I feel so left out sometimes. I felt out of place at that party tonight. There was the mystery of that basket, too. It was too big to belong to me. It just couldn't.

Since it still wasn't raining, I decided to walk around Dad's neighborhood and look at lights. There were some pretty amazing displays. My favorite was the house next-door to the former Taco Bell that decorated the entire property in lights, from colored spotlights leading to the house to rows of large multi-colored lights on the fences in the back yard.

When I got home, I ran a couple of specials to cheer me up as I went online. 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, and a clock maker and the mouse who lives in his house are very much stirring. The mouse's brainy son insulted Santa by sending him a letter claiming he's a fraud, then accidentally ruined the clock tower the clock maker built to bring Santa to the town. The mouse does what he can to set things right, just in time for the famous poem to come true.

A Disney Channel Christmas has been a part of my holidays since my family recorded it in the late 80s. This is a combination of two earlier Disney Christmas specials, Jiminy Cricket's Christmas and A Disney Christmas Gift, with additional material. "Mickey's Good Deed" is included in full, along with "Pluto's Christmas Tree," "Once Upon a Wintertime," and most of "Donald's Snow Fight," "The Clock Watcher," the Goofy short "The Art of Skiing," and the two Santa Silly Symphonies, "Santa's Workshop" and "The Night Before Christmas." The two theme songs, "From All of Us to All of You" and "On Christmas Morning," were carried over from the original specials.

I've switched over to music. Did Christmas With Andy Williams and the Williams Brothers and just finished the orchestra-and-vocals album New England Sleigh Ride. I'll move to either Barbara Streisand, the Beach Boys, or one of the album collections next.

I think Jiminy Cricket said it best. From all of us to all of you, Merry Christmas, and the very happiest of holiday seasons!

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