Saturday, December 25, 2021

Dreaming of a Wet Christmas

Started off a gray morning with the Christmas material from Colliers Harvest of Holidays, which I brought with me for my annual holiday readings. My favorite story was "Miss Flora McFlimsey's Christmas." An old-fashioned doll who was forgotten by her own makes her way downstairs, only to be made fun of by newer dolls who were left by Santa. A mouse and the angel on the tree help her to look brand-new again. "Barney's Wee Red Cap" sounds more like something that should be told at St. Patrick's Day. The title character uses the Red Cap from the Leprechauns to travel...and gets into a pickle when he loses it and a king wants his head! "A Star for Hansi" has a grandmother teach her granddaughter the value of saving when she recalls how she spent her much-saved last coin on a special present for her brother Hansi.

Fed the cats and fish, ad a quick breakfast while watching another marathon from Sam Mitchell. This one focused on the hosts, both starring and as panelists on shows. I came in for the second half of the 1987 syndicated Blockbusters. Bill Rafferty lead a one-on-one contestant duo through trivia questions on a hexagonal board that otherwise resembled the 1980 version. Bill himself turned up on a 1985 episode of Super Password, joking with Bert Convy and Jill Whelan. Gene Rayburn hosted the Match Game segment of The Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour, then switched places with Jon Bauman to be a panelist. Bob Eubanks also joined in for a lot of cat questions during the featured episode.

Mom, Rose, and Jessa also texted me around this time. Mom loved her fancy soap and holder. Rose was happy to note Toothless actually put in a brief appearance during breakfast. Jessa had less good news. She thought I was going over to her house! She said she'd come over briefly later. I'd still at least make something for her.

Put on A Christmas Story while I started the dough for Rosemary Bread. I couldn't find Rose's rosemary, so it became more general Herb Bread. Ralphie Parker (Peter Billingsly) is determined to get a Red Ryder BB Gun for Christmas. Trouble is, his mother (Melinda Dillon) isn't big on guns to begin with, and his father (Darren McGavin) is too busy fighting with the neighbor's dogs and their furnace to notice his son's wishes. Ralphie himself may not dodge neighborhood bullies, blurting out bad words in front of his father, and other childhood pitfalls long enough to make it to Christmas Day...and even then, the holiday doesn't go quite the way he or his family planned.

This is another old family favorite. We ran our old copy taped off HBO constantly during December, long before TNT and TBS started running it 24 hours on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Everyone here is pitch-perfect, from determined Ralphie to Dillon and McGavin as his harried parents. 

Let the home-made DVD go into Emmett Otter's Jug Band Christmas, another old family favorite, while I started the baked ziti. This 1977 special made its first US appearance on HBO a year later, which is where we first recorded it in the late 80's. It was one of Jim Henson's first specials to use Muppets that resembled realistic animals. Emmett Otter (Jerry Nelson) and his mother Alice (Marilyn Sokol) are facing a bare Christmas, until they give up the things that let them make a living to join a local talent contest on Christmas Eve. 

I also unwrapped my present from Rose and her family at this point. It was a small tool kit, complete with a real large bolt wrench and screwdriver. I've used the same three cheap tools from Dollar Tree since I got out of college. Rose pointed out back in the summer that adults need a lot more than three cheap tools to survive. 

Threw on Match Game after that, but it was one I saw this week. Slid the bread out of the oven and taste-tested it while returning to Sam's marathon. By the time I got back, they were on the original one-on-two Blockbusters from 1980 with Bill Cullen. Cullen stuck around for a 1981 Password Plus episode with Barbara Rhodes as his partner and Tom Kennedy hosting. Monty Hall turned up in an earlier 1979 Allen Ludden-hosted Password Plus with Janet Lennon, then was seen hosting his best-known show Let's Make a Deal in the early 70's. Jack Narz hosted the complicated word-based game show Now You See It in 1974 and announced the 1979 Monty Hall Beat the Clock. He made a rare and funny appearance during a stunt in the latter.  

Jessa turned up as Beat the Clock ended. We enjoyed the tasty baked ziti and delicious, crusty Herb Bread together while she kept her little dog Midnight from going after the cats' food. After we ate, we had a long talk about my finding a place to live. I know I should probably move back down to Mom and Cape May County and help take care of her, but...I was hoping to find my own way. 

The trouble is, I just plain don't make enough money at the Acme, even with the raises I've gotten in the past year, and no one gives a fig what I have in my bank account. I was hoping to not have to go to the government either. I wanted to do this on my own, but I guess I'm just not good enough. I don't know if there's any government buildings around here, or if they'll take me with the money I have in the bank, or if I'll be stuck on a waiting list. I can't afford to wait. I need something NOW. 

I did end up going to Deptford with Jessa and Midnight to spend a few hours with her husband Joe and Joe's children, 13-year-old Danica and 11-year-old Connor. The kids and Joe were bopping along to the most recent version of the dance video game Just Dance when I arrived. I only played once, and not well, but I laughed watching Jessa, Joe, and the kids dance along to popular hits and novelty rock songs like "Rasputin" by Boney M. (Lithe Danica's smooth moves kept blowing everyone else away, even her brother.) Joe and Jessa have two smaller versions of actual arcade consoles in their living room. I played Pac Man a few times. 

Played Fruit Ninja with Connor while the other three made the kids ramen bowls for dinner and sliced the bread. This one is pretty simple. You make slashing motions with your arms to slice fruit and gain points. Avoid the bombs that take time off! Mini-fruit and big combos can give you even more points. All that arm-slashing is pretty tiring after a few games. I let Connor handle the mini-games.

We watched Mickey's Christmas Carol on Disney Plus and How the Grinch Stole Christmas on Peacock while the kids ate dinner and rain poured down outside. All the Whos down in Whoville like Christmas a lot...but the Grinch who lives up on Mount Crumpet thinks it's a lot of noise. He dresses as Santa and heads down to the town to steal their Christmas goodies. It takes the Whos celebrating no matter what to make the Grinch understand what the real meaning of the holiday is.

(Incidentally, I will absolutely be making that bread recipe again. It was a huge hit. Everyone ate at least one big slice and asked for more.)

The rain slowed down slightly by the time we all headed out at 8 PM. Joe drove his kids home to their mother, while Jessa took me home. I hurried in while the rain slowed down, greeted Lynx with a good head scratch, and went on the laptop to watch A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa on Disney Plus. I go further into this cute Muppets holiday special at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

And here's hoping you had a wonderful Christmas, no matter whom you spent it with or where!

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