Monday, December 04, 2017

A Christmas Decorating Story

Began the first morning of my vacation with breakfast and A Garfield Christmas Special. Garfield wishes Jon hadn't dragged him to his family's holiday celebration at the farm, until he realizes he and Grandma have a lot in common. While Jon and his brother Doc Boy help their parents decorate the tree and beg their father to read them stories about Binky the Clown, Garfield finds a gift that may make Grandma's holiday a little merrier.

Headed off to the laundromat after breakfast. I had a lot to wash, including the sheets. Good thing they were once again dead the entire time I was there. I listened to Rachel Ray and The View and worked on story notes.

When I got in, I found a note from Miss Willa and Richard in the mail. Basically, it said I let the leaves pile up too much on my porch and I needed to get rid of them. I would have been doing it today anyway. I did put the laundry away first and had lunch.

The porch took a while. The leaves were that bad. I also had to figure out how to get my legs around the railings on the steps and onto the blocked-off part, so I could sweep that. That's...a big part of the reason I put it off. I can't get over the barrier between the good part of the porch and the sagging part - it's too high. I did manage to do it and got the whole porch swept. (The other reason is, I now have to sweep all the leaves down the stairs and onto the yard. I can't just sweep them off the porch anymore. The spaces between the slats holding up the railings are too narrow for them to fit.)

Ran Very Merry Christmas Songs while eating lunch, then finished it after I swept the porch. We had a tradition in my family in the late 80's and 90's of running the original video version as soon as we got in from the last day of school before holiday vacation. It made great background music as we put schoolbooks aside, danced to the music, and let off steam.

Dusted the bedroom for the next couple of hours. It takes me a long time to really, thoroughly dust the bedroom. That's where I keep most of my fiction books and comic books and all of my doll collections, along with the laptop and printer. It's not even a big room. It's just a really full room. And that's when I don't stop to read the books along the way!

Listened to a couple of my True Value Holiday collections while I cleaned. I love these. I bought them at what was then the True Value Hardware Store just off downtown Cape May between 1993 and 2000. Even after we moved off the island and I went to college, I'd still make my annual pilgrimage to Cape May to pick up my Happy Holidays CD or cassette. I have volume 28 through 35. The True Value converted to an Ace Hardware in 2001 (which it remains to this day), which ended my collecting. I did find Volume 39 a couple of years ago at a yard sale in Audubon, which has a tiny True Value on a side street.

After I finally finished the dusting, I did a little writing. Poe and BB both catch Ben trying to get Rey to work with him, and then trying to get her on a date. She's not interested. He grabs her arm and is about to get nastier when they appear. Ben's annoyed with both of them, especially BB. The feeling is mutal. BB thinks he's a jerk. She leaves her brother to flirt with pretty Rey and wanders off into the toy department.

it was time to put up the first Christmas decorations of the year! I dragged out the big red felt "Santa Bag." This is filled with items that go out first, like the wreath, garlands, mistletoe, and nativity. The nativity used to belong to Mom's mother, Grandma Martha, many years ago. I don't think Mom ever really liked it all that much, so she gave it to me when I moved out. I don't know why. I love it. I love that it's grimy and dark and a bit worn. I think that's what the First Christmas must have looked like.

The garlands were also donations from Mom. She used to put them up in the house we lived in on Willow Drive in North Cape May, but she got tired of tacking them up all over. She gave me five of them, including the one that used to go in my room with the red flocked book dangling in the center. That one now, appropriately, goes over the two large windows in my bedroom. The one with the gold ribbon goes over the window that overlooks the park, where I'll be putting the tree tomorrow. Another one with a gold ribbon and red beads goes over the kitchen window. The thick one wrapped in tinsel garland outlines the two big living room windows. A smaller gold-ribbon garland goes over the window that looks out onto the path to the apartment.

I started dinner way before I had lunch. It was crock-pot meal of chicken thighs with a sauce made from chicken broth, soy sauce, dijon mustard, and honey, along with onions and mushrooms. Came out quite nicely, very moist and savory, and it certainly smelled good cooking!

Watched Muppet Family Christmas while I ate, and later as I turned the Betty Crocker Gingerbread Cookie mix into Gingerbread Bars. Fozzie Bear takes his buddies from the Muppet Show to his mother's house for Christmas Eve. Ma's pretty upset - she was originally going to Malibu. Doc and Sprocket the dog from Fraggle Rock, who were originally going to rent the house while she was gone, are even more frustrated. Even as the gang from Sesame Street show up, Kermit worries about Miss Piggy, who is out in a major blizzard. A trip down to meet the Fraggles themselves cheers up Kermit and Robin a bit, just in time for Piggy to make her usual grand entrance.

Funny and heartfelt special is hard to find intact nowadays, thanks to the three groups of Muppets being owned by different companies. Try YouTube and other video sharing sites.

Ended my night after a shower with A Christmas Story as I went online. Yes, I know this runs for 24 hours on TBS Christmas Day, but I thought it might be nice to see the whole thing straight through. All Ralphie Parker (Peter Billingsly) wants for Christmas is a Red Ryder BB Gun. His mother (Melinda Dillon) is worried that he'll hurt himself. His father (Darren McGavin) may be too busy battling with the furnace and the neighbors' dogs to notice. Even when Ralphie manages to survive typical childhood pitfalls like dodging the neighborhood bully (Zack Ward), his Christmas gift doesn't turn out in quite the way he expected...

I have so many fond memories of watching this on cable during the 80's and early 90's. Ralphie's parents remind me so much of my own. (Except my mother would have taken one look at that leg lamp and said "NO." Or at least banished it to a less-used corner of the house.) This is a long-time favorite of mine and is highly recommended, even before Christmas Day.

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