Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Christmas With Friends

I awoke to gray clouds and generally blah weather. Brightened the day with breakfast and my favorite Rankin-Bass special, The Year Without a Santa Claus. Santa (Mickey Rooney) gets a cold on Christmas Eve and decides to take the holiday off because he believes no one cares about him anymore. Mrs. Claus (Shirley Booth) recruits two elves and one of the reindeer to go further south to find some examples of good will to make her husband feel better. What they didn't expect was to end up in the Deep South when they cross paths with the Heat Miser and the Snow Miser, the battling brothers of the weather. With the help of a local kid, they have to bring snow to the Deep South...and get the Misers off their backs.

After breakfast, I got a few things done around the apartment before my friend Amanda arrived. I made the bed. I dropped Amanda's presents in a gift bag. Pulled out the tree, set it up, and vacuumed under it (fake trees shed almost as much as the real ones do!). Managed to get both sets of lights on this time. Signed Amanda's card.

Watched more holiday and winter-themed Max & Ruby while I worked. Ruby thinks she knows what "Grandma's Present" should be, but Max has a better idea of what interests their tomboyish grandparent. Max and Ruby have their own clashing ideas of what is "beautiful" in "Max & Ruby's Christmas Tree" - at least until it's time to put the star on top. Ruby tries to shovel snow in "Max's Snowplow," but her brother has a better way. Ruby wants to stay inside on "Max's Snow Day," but Max just wants to go outside and play. Ruby wants to make snow angels, but her brother would rather follow the Abominable Snow Bunny in "Max's Snow Bunny." "Max's Mix-Up happens when he doesn't want to stop sledding and trades places with his buddy Morris in order to stay outside.

It took me so long to wrestle with the lights, it was almost 10:55 before I finally got out the door! I was supposed to meet Lauren around 11. Luckily, I ran into Linda, the wife of my previous landlord Andrew and a neighbor, on my way down Manor. She was going in the direction of the White Horse Pike anyway and was able to drop me off at the parking lot of the former PNC Bank to wait for Amanda.

I messed around with my cell phone until Amanda finally arrived at 20 after 11. Amanda is an old friend of mine from Stockton College. We roomed together briefly, but Amanda decided she preferred dorm life to sharing an apartment. We started getting together to go Christmas shopping around 2000-2001. After we both graduated and got jobs (and Amanda went back to school), we whittled it down to a day of lunch, a little shopping, and her helping to decorate my tree. (It takes me at least three hours or more to decorate it on my own!)

We went straight to Collingswood for lunch at the Pop Shop, a popular local diner. We arrived just in time. Less than 10 minutes after we were seated, a huge party of people were seated at the long rows of tables in the front of the store, and it got a lot noisier. Amanda had the Vegetarian Cheesesteak. I went with the Apple Brown Bettys, aka pancakes with sauteed apples. Yum. They were tasty, very sweet and cinnamon-y...and the size of the plate. Amanda's cheesesteak and fries were only slightly smaller. We both ended up taking more than half of them home with us.

Instead of having dessert there, we went next-door to The Candy Jar, a local candy shop specializing in "penny" candies. I found my favorite chocolate Neccos. Amanda bought chocolates and violet mints.

While it was warm, the weather not only continued to be cloudy and damp, but the wind had picked up, too. It was not a day to linger. We headed back to Oaklyn around 1:30. Amanda wanted coffee, so we stopped at Common Ground around the corner from me. She had a Peppermint Mocha Latte and a chocolate peanut butter cake pop. I had hot chocolate and a luscious red velvet cake pop. We chatted about my job and her schoolwork (she's taking classes to become a veterinary technician) and her job at her local Bath and Body Works. Watched two little kids explore the big, comfy leather chairs while their mother ordered drinks.

When we got home, we gave each other our presents. Amanda mostly gave me gifts from Bath and Body Works. I don't know about the body spray, but I could always use the pump soap and hand lotion. Got another cute pair of sleep socks, these with a polar bear theme, and a heavy, square box of hot chocolate. She also gave me the cutest card with a little snowman admiring a tiny tree.

Spent the next hour and a half decorating my tree. I have tons of decorations! There's the character ornaments, like Lucy Ricardo, Older Han Solo and Chewbacca, Yogi Bear, and Winnie the Pooh (as a honey-eating angel). There's fancy ornaments Mom got from the Winterwood Christmas Shops in Cape May County - a glass heart with embossed Victorian-style flowers, the bear carrying shopping bags, the heavy magenta ball with the creamy white bow, the flat brass leaping reindeer, the huge, detailed glass wreath. There's beaded ornaments my cousin Samantha made a few years ago, and there's folk art-style embroidered cloth ornaments Mom made when I was in high school. There's the glass Disney gang character ornaments Mom gave me a while back. I put up clothespin soldiers Mom made so long ago I can't remember, and plastic icicles I bought from a dollar store.

The turquoise paper tree in the Plexiglas ornament case bears the legend "Christmas 1986." That was a craft my class did in second grade. We were given paper trees to color with green crayon. The teacher spread the crayons out on the front reading table. By the time I got there, all the green crayons were gone. Only the sort-of greens remained, like lime green and turquoise. I thought turquoise was the prettiest of the bunch.

We ran records while we worked, starting with a favorite of Amanda and me, the soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas. Did The Beach Boys Christmas Album next. Amanda mentioned that she's a fan of the Beatles, especially Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. I put on the first disc of the Blue Album greatest hits collection.

After Amanda left, I worked on my story for a while. Kay from Housewares comes to Poe, wailing that she's lost the sheep blankets she was supposed to shelve and can't find them anywhere. Poe and BB offer to help look for them. Unfortunately, Kay's strict supervisor Gwen Phasma arrives, asking her why there's so many boxes on the floor. Poe tries to explain about the mess, while BB, who was looking for the blankets under the bed, sees a few more familiar faces near-by...

Broke for a quick leftovers dinner at 6. Baked Chocolate Chip-Cranberry "Old School" Muffins after I finished. Ended the night with Snow White and the Three Stooges. Here, Snow White (Carol Heiss) is a snow-loving princess who runs afoul of her wicked stepmother, the vain queen (Patricia Medina), when she realizes that her daughter's beauty far outshines her own. As in the original story, she orders the huntsman (Buddy Baer) to kill her, but he lets her go instead. Instead of running into seven dwarfs, she finds their cottage inhabited by the Three Stooges (by this point Moe, Larry, and Curly Joe) and their handsome adopted son Quatro (Edson Stoll). They're delighted to take her in...but Quatro is more than he seems, and the queen and her right-hand man Count Oga (Guy Rolfe) aren't going to give up that easily.

Critics and Stooges fans alike have problems with this one, usually citing the stiff (and dubbed) leads and lack of screen time for the Stooges. I disagree. If you don't mind the Stooges' being a bit subdued for them, I actually find this musical to be very charming, with decent songs, surprisingly scary villains, and some fabulous ice skating numbers.

(And it's a good thing Amanda left when she did. It started raining around 5, and has rained on and off ever since.)

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