Monday, December 19, 2016

Out In the Cold

It was sunny and bright when I got up this morning. I ate a quick breakfast while watching The Little Drummer Boy Book II. Greer Garson returns as narrator for this 1976 Rankin-Bass tale, their third of four specials that focus on the more spiritual side of the holiday. Aaron, the little drummer boy, has to use his talents to help an old bell maker rescue his silver bells from a group of Roman tax collectors (lead by Zero Mostel). The bells will be used to announce the birth of Jesus. Aaron and his menagerie go after the bells...but in the process, Aaron loses the thing that means the most to him.

Spent the next few hours starting my next story. It's a blending of two Grimm's Fairy Tales set in the woods, "Hansel & Gretel" and "The Old Woman In the Wood." Luke and Leia Skywalker are being sent to the city with their aunt and uncle by their poor woodcutter father Anakin. He wants them to get an education there. Aunt Breha is worried about being attacked on the road. The evil warlock who had stolen Anakin's money haunts the woods, killing anything in his path. A merchant who lived in the woods and his estate and servants were said to have vanished into thin air, possible victims of the warlock's vast powers.

Even as they talk, a storm is brewing outside...a storm that's producing purple lightning. Something with long, bony arms gets in front of the carriage and won't move. Neither of the twins have any idea who it is...but neither like the looks of the bony man in the heavy cape.

Did one of the holiday episodes of The Backyardigans really quick while having lunch and getting ready for work. "The Action Elves Save Christmas Eve" gives us Pablo, Uniqua, and Tasha as the title characters, who have to rescue Santa's (Conan O'Brian) magic sack from the Abominable Brothers (Austin and Tyrone). They don't even know it's Santa's. They just think it's something nice that can carry snowballs. Things get pretty wild when the Elves follow the Brothers, and they all get into a massive snowball fight.

I was almost at work when I heard a "ping"...and suddenly, the wheel of my bike was rubbing against the frame so badly, I couldn't ride it anymore. I ended up walking the rest of the way and almost being late again. Thankfully, that was the worst thing that happened. Work was off-and-on steady up through rush hour, when it picked up considerably. I bagged, did returns, and gathered baskets, but I was mostly rounding up carts. That was ok. It was sunny and chilly but not as bitter as the weekend, probably in the mid to upper 30's. It actually felt quite nice in the sunlight.

Had a very quick dinner at Arby's after picking up an anniversary card for Mom and Dad. (Their anniversary is December 16th. They're celebrating their 33rd or 34th anniversary. I can never remember.) I grabbed a Turkey Club Sandwich and Curly Fries with a Diet Dr. Pepper. The drive-through window was busier than the dining area. There were only a few couples there. I ate my dinner and watched the people go by in the darkness on the Black Horse Pike.

I ended up walking home. I didn't want to drag anyone out in the cold. When I did finally get in, I ran Santa Bear's First Christmas while getting organized. Like The Snowman, this sweet tale is based after a children's picture book. A little polar bear cub is separated from his family and lost somewhere in the woods. He meets and befriends a little girl named Marie and her grandfather. When the grandfather becomes deathly ill and needs firewood, the bear volunteers to get some, only to discover that no dry wood can be found. He's upset that he may not be able to help his friends...until the arrival of a certain jolly man in red reminds him that this is the season for miracles.

Cheered myself up by using that Butter Pecan cake mix to make Coconut-Butter Pecan Cake. Watched the French holiday musical Here Comes Santa Claus as I worked. If you think a bear helping Santa out is strange, get a load of this story. A little boy desperately wants his parents to come home from Africa for Christmas. He so badly wants them back, he and his best gal friend go all the way up to Lapland to ask Santa to find them. While Santa and his fairy helper Mary Ellen go to the very real Senegal to rescue the boy's parents from hostile rebels, the kids try to escape a wicked ogre who wants them for dinner. Odd Christmas fantasy is buoyed by its cinematography and attention to detail; it was filmed on location in Senegal and Lapland, using real African locals in the former.

When I went online to chat with Lauren, she told me there was another package for me. Sure enough, the Kimberly-Clark box had arrived and was waiting at Charlie's side of the house. Lauren and her parents invested in the company and get boxes filled with paper products from them every year. She asked if I wanted one, too. Free tissues and paper towels? Sure! With my allergies, I could use them. I'll give Anny the bags and containers of Scott wet wipes and coupons for diapers in her Christmas box and Rose the car wipes. Everything else, I'll be able to use.

Finished the night on the couch, eating the cake (which tasted great, despite falling apart when I pulled it out of the pan) and watching The Bishop's Wife. The bishop of the title (David Niven) is trying to get a huge cathedral built, ignoring his lovely wife Julia (Loretta Young) in the process. An impossibly handsome angel named Dudley (Cary Grant) shows up, claiming he's there to help the bishop. While Dudley proceeds to charm everyone around him and fall head-over-heels in love with Julia, the bishop begins to understand just how important his family and friends are to him.

Lovely tale of faith and romance, elevated by fine performances by all three leads and a nice cast of character actors (including Monty Woolley as a family friend) making the most of the material.

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