Sunday, December 25, 2016

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Christmas Day dawned cold, clear, and bright across South Jersey. After reading Hanukkah and Christmas stories from the Collier's Harvest of Holidays book, I crept into the living room to unwrap the presents from Linda Young. The two little "stocking stuffer" gifts were magnets. One contained three small bike-themed magnets. (Ironically, the silver-aqua color sort of resembles my new bike.) The other had an inspirational quote about not giving up, ever. There were also two magnetic pads, which I can always use (I keep one on the refrigerator door at all times for grocery lists and writing my schedule down), a new journal with a really nice cover, and Flappers and Flivvers, a gorgeous hardback collection of stories about people's memories of the 1920's.

Did two quick specials as I changed, got organized, and ate two clementines to tide me over until I got to Dad and Jodie's. How the Grinch Stole Christmas takes us to Whoville, where all the tiny citizens are preparing for a Christmas filled with trees, stockings, toys, and roast beef. The grouchy Grinch, who lives on Mount Crumpet, is tired of their noisy traditions. He dresses as Santa and descends to the valley to steal their goodies. When the Who continue their holiday sing-along with or without gifts, the Grinch learns that "Maybe Christmas doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more."

The Bernstein Bears' Christmas Tree will be the best ever, if Papa Q. Bear has anything to do with it! Like Clark Grizwauld, he's determined to get an extra special tree out in the wilderness. Every time he and the cubs choose a tree, it's the home of woodland animals who don't want to give up their residence. They finally come down the mountain without a tree, but the woodland animals whose houses they spared have a surprise for them when they get back.

Strolled to Dad and Jodie's around quarter of 10. I walked because I knew I'd have a big present to get home that wouldn't fit on the bike. It was a nice day for a walk, anyway. The weather couldn't have been more perfect. It was sunny and breezy, neither too warm nor too cold for late December. There were many kids out testing new bikes and adults wishing the best of the season to their neighbors. I wished "Merry Christmas" to all of them.

Dad, Jodie, Rose, and her family were already there when I arrived. Khai was playing Mario Kart on his new Nintendo 3DS. Everyone else was eating breakfast and watching TNT's annual 24-hour run of A Christmas Story. In addition to the cupcakes and the cookies from last night, there was French toast casserole, a sausage casserole made with cream cheese and breakfast sausage topped with pop-can biscuits, toasted English muffins, and eggs and bacon cooked into muffin tins. Rose provided a fruit tree, made from sticking strawberries, grapes, and pieces of watermelon and honeydew on toothpicks inserted in a pineapple and pear base, with a cut-out pineapple star. 

Though Joe and Jessa had to leave briefly to pick up something at Joe's place, Khai couldn't wait any longer. We opened gifts around 11. My Secret Santa was Craig. He gave me a new muffin pan (I've had the old one for at least a decade) and a really nice orange silicone spatula and ladle. Dad gave me very soft sleep socks and 200 dollars. He and Jodie gave me black rolling luggage. It's a little smaller than Dad's similar suitcase, but also a bit deeper. Khai loved his new night-vision "spy goggles" from his grandparents and wore them for the rest of the morning. Jodie got especially nice gray ankle boots from Dad. (And Jesse did love his Amazon gift card! He gave me a big hug.)

Mark and Vanessa appeared around 11:30. I lingered for a little while longer, even after Rose and her family went home. I finally just left the cupcake pan with Dad (I'll pick it up later this week), loaded everything into my new luggage, and strolled on home.

When I arrived, I got organized, then went online. I did finally work on my story a bit. As the weeks turn into months, Luke and Leia formulate a plan to keep them both from ending up being turned into gingerbread people. Leia reveals that Han told her Palpatine is blind as a bat. Luke will eat, but only show him chicken bones instead of his finger.

Leia can't figure Han out. During most of the day, he's distant, silent, and moves stiffly, as if he's being controlled by someone else. There are flashes, especially late in the day, when he breaks out of that control and shows his good-natured, cocky side. He disappears at nightfall, which is when the majestic, handsome Falcon appears. The Falcon remains with Leia and Chewie until dawn, when he vanishes again.

Broke around 3:30 for a ride to WaWa. It was too nice of a day to hang out inside. I treated myself to a Mint Chocolate Cookies and Cream Milkshake. They were surprisingly busy for Christmas Day, probably because they were also the only place open at almost 4 PM on Christmas Day.

Finished out a few cartoons when I got home. Bugs Bunny's Christmas Tales is an anthology of three original shorts - a Christmas Carol spoof with Bugs and Yosemite Sam, a typical Wile E Coyote/Road Runner romp, and a second Bugs tale with the Tasmanian Devil. A Walt Disney Christmas is a collection of Disney winter and holiday shorts, such as "Donald's Snow Fight," "Once Upon a Wintertime," and the two Santa Claus Silly Symphonies. "The Night Before Christmas" was the first Tom & Jerry cartoon to get an Oscar nomination. The two chase each other under the Christmas tree, amid toys and gifts...until Tom is thrown out, and they're reminded that the phrase "Peace on earth, goodwill toward's men" applies to cats and mice, too.

I was originally going to make a big Italian sausage dinner...but I spent a lot of the last two days eating and not doing much else. I was beyond full. I finally decided to save the sausages for later this week and make my favorite Tex-Mex Black Bean Dip for dinner instead. 

Ran The House Without a Christmas Tree as I ate. Like Ralphie Parker, Addie Mills (Lisa Lucas) wants one special gift for Christmas. What she wants, though, is hardly violent - a Christmas tree. Her family has never had one. It reminds her taciturn father (Jason Robards) too much of his late wife...and so does his strong-willed daughter. While her eccentric grandmother (Mildred Natwick) and best friend Carla Mae (Alexa Kanin) support her wish, Mr. Mills keeps saying "no" despite her pestering. Addie does win her classroom tree, but her dad gets upset when he comes home and learns that she did it behind his back. It takes her grandmother explaining about charity to get Addie to give the tree away...and finally convince Mr. Mills that charity, like healing, begins at home.

Lovely, touching tale, the first in a series of holiday-related TV films about Addie and her life in small-town Nebraska in the mid-40's. Robards, Lucas, and Natwick are all absolutely wonderful as the Mills trio. A nice, quiet movie, perfect for viewing on Christmas Eve or later on Christmas Day, especially for families with girls Addie's age. 

Finished the night with more Super Smash Bros Brawl. I went back to Solo Classic first on Very Hard. I only got through Round 11 before running out of continues! Didn't get to the Hand this time. Decided to try "Adventure Mode," which is the story mode, instead. Rather than fighting other characters, the various Nintendo characters fight strange electrical aliens from another world who have destroyed their stadium. The first world after the stadium was the cloud-themed Skyworld, featuring Pit of the Kid Icarus series. I'll do the second world the next time I play.

And I hope you had an equally fun Christmas Day and second day of Hanukkah! 

No comments: