Saturday, December 24, 2016

We Need a Little Christmas

Began the day before Christmas with pouring rain. I finished A Christmas Carol, then did excerpts from two American Girl holiday stories. Josefina's Surprise takes us to New Mexico in 1824, as Josefina and her sisters prepare for their town's Navidad celebrations. Their mother's alter cloth was ruined in a flood, so their aunt suggests they fix it. They're reluctant to at first. Their mother passed away the year before, and it brings back too many memories of her. Josefina's also looking for a doll that was supposed to be passed to her. Her sister Clara doesn't think she's ready to give it up...but working on the cloth makes both girls realize that their mother isn't as far away as they think.

Samantha's Surprise moves to small-town New York in 1904. Sam's Uncle Gard is visiting with his girlfriend Cornelia. She's upset about it at first. She can't put up her decorations with the professional ones or attend a friend's party. She gradually changes her mind when she gets to know Cornelia...and discovers that she's a vivacious "modern" woman who has a lot of things in common with Sam.

Ran Winnie the Pooh and Christmas Too during breakfast. When Pooh accidentally sends their letter to Santa in the wrong direction and it comes back, he tries to play Santa for the others. "The Magic Earmuffs" is an additional story from The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Piglet is having trouble skating, so Christopher Robin lends him his earmuffs, claiming they're magic. They finally give Piglet the confidence to learn to skate better...and help save his friends from a waterfall.

The Monkees are having their own problems in their only Christmas episode, from the second season. Instead of playing a gig, they find themselves saddled with a spoiled rich boy (Butch Patrick) for the holidays. They try their hardest to instill some Christmas cheer in the kid...but it's Mike Nesmith who eventually figures out what the kid really needs.

Did two quick Disney shorts while getting ready for work. "Mickey's Orphans" is a black-and-white Christmas tale from 1931, their first Oscar-winner. Minnie and Mickey take in a basket full of abandoned kittens for the holidays, but come to regret it when they tear apart their home. "Toy Tinkers" from 1949 was also Oscar-nominated. This time, it's Chip and Dale invading Donald's home in search of nuts on Christmas Eve. Donald starts a war to get them out!

It was still raining by 9:30. Jodie ended up driving me to work. She said she had to go grocery shopping anyway. The Acme was crazy when I started at 10, with very long lines despite most registers being open. I bagged for a half-hour when I came in and 10 minutes before I left, but I was mostly outside. Even with as many as three baggers working on carts, we couldn't keep up with them during the first half of my shift. By noon, though, the skies were starting to clear, and so were our customers. The end of my shift brought sunny skies and steady but not crazy crowds that were more in line with a normal Saturday afternoon.

The weather was so nice by 2, I just walked home. Besides it being sunny, I knew from driving with Jodie earlier that the roads were insane. Jodie almost got blindsided or ran into at least two or three times just in the five minutes between work and my place. I figured I was safer on the sidewalk.

Changed and relaxed at home while watching Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas. This anthology gives us three different stories about the Disney gang. "Donald Duck: Stuck on Christmas" has Huey, Dewey, and Louie wishing it were Christmas every least until the repetition starts to drive them crazy. When their attempt to "liven things up" ends with their uncle getting hurt, they finally realize just how important Donald is to them. It's "A Max and Goofy Christmas" as Goofy tries to prove to his skeptical son that Santa's real. "Mickey and Minnie's Gift of the Magi" adapts another famous short story. The two mice give up their most precious possessions to buy gifts for one another.

My Christmas Eve gift from Linda Young was something I've considered buying for a long time. The Chuck Jones Collection is a DVD featuring all of his animal-themed specials, including childhood favorites Rikki Tikki Tavi and A Cricket In Times Square. I ran another Cricket special I hadn't seen, A Very Merry Cricket. Harry the Cat and Tucker the Mouse catch a train to Connecticut to bring Chester the Cricket back to New York. It seems New Yorkers are so intent on the noise around them, they've forgotten the spirit of the season. It takes a blackout to teach them a lesson on the importance of listening and appreciating the small things.

Headed to Dad and Jodie's party after Very Merry Cricket ended. It was just them, Jodie's parents, and a couple of neighbors when I arrived. Gradually, I saw Rose, Khai, Craig, Mark, Vanessa, Brittany, Erica and her mother Miss Helen, and a bunch more neighbors. There was a ton of food. Jodie cooked turkey, ham, sausage, and meatballs. I saw macaroni salad, potato salad, and that yummy bacon Cesar salad I loved last week. Appetizers included crackers with brie, jam, or garlic hummus, a cheese-and-pepperoni tray, and a vegetable tray. I had a turkey sandwich, macaroni salad, Cesar salad, and some of the appetizers for dinner.

Rose and I brought cookies for dessert. Rose actually made tasty gingerbread and molasses cookies along with her classic cherry-white chocolate and sugar cookies. She also brought peanut-butter chocolate bars, a decadent confection that was made for years by one of our favorite hoagie shops in Cape May Courthouse, across from the Court House and the main branch of the Cape May County Library. She found a similar recipe on Pinterest...and it was just as good as the real thing.

Dad mostly had football on. I only half-paid attention to the games. I did see the poor quarterback for the Oakland Raiders, Derek Carr, get crunched and pulled out of the game. I eventually learned the guy broke his leg. Ouch! Too bad. They did really well, too, beating the Colts 33-24. This is the best the Raiders have done in ages. (In other news, the winless Cleveland Browns pulled off a Christmas miracle and just barely beat the Sand Diego Chargers, 20-17.)

The kids preferred cartoons in the living room. The Toy Story That Time Forgot seemed to be a sort-of Christmas special that had Buzz and Woody getting captured by He-Man-like dinosaur action figure while their humans play video games instead of playing with them. We also did Christmas-themed episodes of My Friends Tigger and Pooh and The Amazing Adventures of Gumball, along with a regular Teen Titans Go! show.

I left around 7. It was a lovely night, cool and breezy but not too cold (or too warm, unlike last year). I took my new bike for a test spin as I rode around Oaklyn looking at lights. Since I was in the neighborhood, I also stopped at WaWa really quickly for skim milk.

There was a surprise waiting on the steps to my porch when I got home. My gift from Miss Willa and Richard this year were two fabric-covered mason jars. One contained what looked like home-made pickles and pickled carrots. The other has spiced nuts. There was also a bag with cookies and candy, including their peppermint bark. Awesome! I've loved their peppermint bark when I got it the last few years.

Spent the rest of the evening on the couch, watching favorite holiday specials, including 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, A Charlie Brown Christmas, It's Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown, A Garfield Christmas Special, Muppet Family Christmas, Mickey's Christmas Carol, The Small One, and the short "Pluto's Christmas Tree." Tomorrow, after I open more gifts from Linda Young, I'll be returning to Dad and Jodie's for brunch, then resting at my house in the afternoon.

Here's hoping that all of you have a safe and happy Christmas and Hanukkah, with all the people you love!

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