Trimming & Meming

I felt a little bad about my rant yesterday. It's easy to get frustrated this time of year, and sometimes I just need to vent. Today was a much better day. With some difficulty, we put up the tree, which for some reason is shaped like an arc. This led to quite a bit of discussion with my parents as to whether or not it was straight as I adjusted the screws in the base. The final solution was to face the curved part to the wall, so that the tree appears perpendicular to the floor from most angles. It's not perfect, but as we added lights and ornaments, we made sure to put the heavier items in areas where they might bend the tree into an upright position. For many reasons, for many years, I've argued in favor of getting an artificial tree.

As far as I was concerned after last night, my shopping was done. My mom had other plans however, which she told me about at 5 PM. Her theory was that traffic would be light, and stores would be empty, since people would be having dinner at that time. I really didn't want to go out, especially since her theory struck me as thin and outdated, but she asked for company and it wouldn't be right for me to let her go out at night by herself. Our first stop was the local supermarket, which was bad. I waited in the car, observing the lowest aspects of human nature. People are inconsiderate sheep. Four shopping carts were behind a parked car. An old man, upon completion of his errands, shoved a fifth one toward them. It veered off course but he managed to catch it, and position it next to the others before walking away. Five shopping carts now blocked the parked car. A few minutes passed, and sure enough another man, appearing to be in his 40s, added a sixth cart. More time elapsed, and a woman opened her trunk in the adjoining space. After unloading, she turned to add her cart only to see another woman staring in disbelief that somehow six shopping carts had accumulated behind her car. The first woman quickly changed course and made it seem as though she was putting her cart alongside her car, and though I couldn't hear what was said I got the sense that she was making small talk about how terribly inconsiderate people are. The second woman shook her head, took the first of the carts, and shoved it toward the empty parking spot in front of me. She must have noticed I was there, and she ran and caught it before it struck my front bumper. The other carts were added to the empty space more carefully. When my mom arrived, I told her the tale, and as I was backing out of the parking space a loud obnoxious beep warned me to stay put as a sportscar zoomed down the aisle. No one has patience. No one is thinking about other people. The prevalent attitude is, “Make way! Coming through! I don't have time to wait for you; you watch out for ME!”

The other stores weren't quite as bad as that supermarket, but it would be another four hours before we got home. I called my dad at one point to let him know to eat dinner, but since dinnertime had already passed he was way ahead of me. He did say he'd have ravioli waiting for us, so coming home was all the sweeter. I guess tonight's family tale of tree trimming turned into another rant against the ugly side of humanity. Perhaps this meme Wendy tagged me with will make for more appropriate holiday fare:

1. Hot Chocolate or apple cider?
Hot Chocolate.

2. Turkey or Ham?

3. Do you get a Fake or Real you cut it yourself christmas tree?
Real. And it must remain up until all of our extended family as seen it, and certainly NEVER before Little Christmas. I'm not sure what would happen if we took it down sooner. I assume I'd be sweeping up less dried needles. Maybe someday I'll convince my parents to get a fake one.

4. Decorations on the outside of your house?
Yes. Lights, garland, and a pair of Noel candles my folks have had since their second or third wedding anniversary. Given the amusement park extremes of some of our neighbors, who could guide airplanes in an emergency, our house isn't that noticeable.

5. Snowball fights or sleddin?
I always preferred the latter and got hit with the former.

6. Do you enjoy Going downtown shopping?
No, there's nothing downtown. There are plenty of stores out of town, but I'd say in general shopping is a necessity, not a pleasure.

7. Favorite Christmas song?
Silent Night.

8. How do you feel about Christmas movies?
Sometimes they're a little forced, and they're definitely better in moderation. I like them, but years need to pass between repeat viewings. I did enjoy A Christmas Story, Christmas Vacation, Home Alone and The Nightmare Before Christmas.

9. When is it too early to start listening to Christmas music?
Anywhere between two weeks to a month before the actual holiday is too soon.

10. Stockings before or after presents?
My stance has varied over the years. Usually I would say before, since the contents are more or less “appetizers” to the main course. Now that I'm an adult and I know there will be deodorant, shaving cream, toothpaste, shampoo and other grooming supplies instead of little cars, I tend to get to the stockings later.

11. Carolers, do you or do you not watch and listen to them?

12. Go to someone elses house or they come to you?
We always have Christmas here and one of my uncles comes over. Usually some time before the end of January we coordinate with other aunts, uncles and cousins and make arrangements to visit their homes before they take down their decorations.

13. Do you read the Christmas Story? If so when?
No. We hear it in church of course, the night before Christmas. We used to go to midnight mass but our parish changed it to 8PM a few years ago, which works out much better.

14. What do you do after presents and dinner?
The day starts with presents, then breakfast, then throwing away wrapping paper and putting away gifts and getting the house clean before my uncle arrives. After we eat dinner, we exchange with him, then watch some television until dessert.

15. What is your favorite holiday smell?
Any kind of baking, from cookies to apple pie, ranks very highly.

16. Ice skating or walking around the mall?
I wish I did more of the former, but now that I'm an adult I'm pretty much restricted to the latter. If I ever have kids, maybe I'll have an excuse to skate again.

17. Do you open a present or presents on Christmas Eve, or wait until Christmas day?
When I was younger I couldn't wait, and would badger my parents. My dad just wanted to go to sleep after church on Saturday night since it was so late for him, and my mom didn't want me opening gifts too soon, especially if they couldn't both enjoy my reaction. Some years I've managed to get permission to open one gift. These days, I really don't want anything else. The things I really want I buy throughout the year, and most of the time gifts are just things to take up more space in an already crowded room.

18. Favorite Christmas memory?
The year my parents bought me Castle Grayskull will probably never be topped.

19. Favorite Part about winter?
It's not shoveling or freezing or skidding on the road or having very few hours of daylight so, like Wendy, I'm going to say “when it ends”.

20. Ever been kissed under mistletoe?
I've never gotten so much as a handshake or pat on the back under the mistletoe. Is that tradition still in practice? Do I not go to the right parties? Or any parties?

21. Tagged...
Unlike Kelly, my gift to you all is that anyone and everyone who reads this may choose to take on the challenge. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!


Blogger Lorna said...

I have to tell you, your family life sounds so real to me sometimes, I'd swear I've had coffee with your mother. I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and that you treasure those grooming supplies---based on mother-son performance, I'd have to give my son a piece of coal in his stocking, but I never based stocking contents on performance, so he will also get aftershave and manly hair gel, along with a bunch of silly things printed with Betty Boop, who I insist on thinking is his favourite.

12/24/2005 5:38 AM  
Blogger Kelly said...

It's really hard to not get down about the ugly side of humanity when it's so prevelant this time of year, isn't it? That's why I try to stay out of the stores as much as possible during the week before Xmas. It's bad, but not anywhere as bad as you describe in this and the last post. I wonder if that's just the difference of a big, big city and a suburb.

Anyway, your movie was fantastic, had Dave and I cracking up. Thanks, and Merry Christmas to you!

12/24/2005 6:12 AM  
Blogger Xtine said...

stockings as appetizers, eh? I see them more as the cool down.

12/24/2005 10:46 AM  
Blogger MCF said...

I wouldn't call any part of Long Island a "big, big city". I'd call it several cramped overpopulated suburbs on the outskirts of a big, big city. People squished together, especially with tight deadlines, find their inner NYC-er even if they're in woodsy beachy areas like where I live.

12/25/2005 12:07 AM  

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