Friday, December 11, 2009

Do They Know It's Christmas Time?

I attended my son's Winter Celebrations concert at school today. Based on the name of the concert (and is it me or does it sound like some sort of a pagan festival?) I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised that he and his fellow 4th grade classmates did not sing a single traditional holiday song. Not one.

WARNING: This is not one of those crazy keep-Christ-in-Christmas rants. Au contraire...I'm all about Christmas commercialism. I like Santa, I like presents and I like Christmas trees. I like lights, I like decorations and I like holiday parties. And the thing that I like most about the holiday season...are the songs.

I love to sing. I'm not a good singer, but that does not stop me from singing at the top of my lungs. All. The. Time. I constantly break out into song (much to the dismay of those around me). My sister thinks that I have some sort of musical Turrets Syndrome. Honestly, sometimes I cannot stop. And when I don't know the words to a song, I simply make them up.

So imagine my disappointment when I couldn't sing along with the kids today. It was like going to a Springsteen concert and not hearing Born to Run. I'm not suggesting that they sing The First Noel or O Holy Night, but there are traditional holiday songs about secular Christmas themes such as winter scenes and family gatherings that appeal to the masses without trampling on people's religious beliefs. How about Winter Wonderland? Let It Snow? Frosty the Snowman?

Maybe I was expecting more because I am a little depressed about Glee wrapping up this week. (I am going to miss singing along with the cast.) But something tells me that if McKinley's Glee Club director, Mr. Shue, was in charge of today's set list, I would be singing and humming right now instead of blogging. I'm just sayin'.

It's not the the kids didn't do a great job - they absolutely did. And it's not that I didn't enjoy myself - because I did. It's just that I wish the concert had more traditional holiday spirit. I wish I had left school whistling one of my holiday favorites.

Friday, December 4, 2009

It's the Holiday Season...

Ok, it's time to blog about Christmas. You know why? Because I AM DONE SHOPPING, that's why. Granted, my list is very short this year and I did most of it online, but still...I'm done and I'm gloating.

I had the day off, so I went to the mall and crossed off the last remaining things on my list. Man, I hate to shop, especially in malls. It wasn't exceptionally crowded, but because they roll in those seasonal carts for the holiday shoppers, there wasn't much room to roam the mall. Perhaps they do that to create the illusion that the mall is bustling. I can barely get my head around malls, much less why people would shop at those carts. (Maybe it's because those carts are staffed with the most aggressive salespeople on earth.)

Hickory Farms? Really? Is it really necessary to bring in a cart of that crap for the holidays? Who is buying the summer sausage trio gift box? Because I better not be on that person's Christmas list, I'm just saying. I was accosted - literally stopped in my tracks - by one of the Hickory Farms helpers who asked if I might be interested in the Family Togetherness Gift Basket. Now, on paper, that might sound good: I'm all about family togetherness and I'm all about snacks. But in reality, I am fairly certain that my family would leave me if I brought out cheese balls and sweet, hot mustard during a heated game of Hearts.

Have you seen the Smokeless Cigarette cart? It's the most bizarre thing...a shady looking character walks around the cart puffing on an electric cigarette. It actually gets red at the tip and appears to give off smoke (or it that vapor?) when he inhales. The gentleman struts around the cart inhaling and exhaling, thinking he looks like a suave, sophisticated movie star...but he looks more like a borderline criminal to me. I overheard him telling a passerby that it saves your health, your money and best of all - you have the freedom to smoke anywhere. (I kind of doubt that, but I was not about to challenge him. He might be packing an electric gun.)

Time to duck into an actual store and get away from the carts. There is something almost creepy about GapKids. They're big people styles for little people. I stop to glance at the Stella McCartney flower applique dress and think, "Damn, I would wear this thing to a cocktail party if it were 40 times bigger." And I swear the cable knit sweater tunic by Stella is...well...kind of sexy. I don't want to see a chubby-armed 3 year old toddler in a sexy, sleeveless knit this holiday season. That's just wrong.

Why is it that even when the mall is empty, the Apple store has a line out the door? I'll tell you why, because it's hip and it's happenin' and it's totally current, that's why. I walked in (no line today, but still, very crowded) and was immediately approached by Shelby, an ultra-cool 20something with a funky hairdo and a big smile. Shelby showed me exactly what I needed and then checked me out with his wireless, handheld credit terminal. "Would you like a print out of your receipt, Mrs. Reid....or would you like me to send it to your email?" Before I walked out of the iPhone pinged informing me that the receipt was in my inbox. Now that is a beautiful shopping experience.

On my way to the next store, I walked by a line of people waiting to have their photos taken with Santa. I counted at least 5 kids who were freaking out of their minds with fear at the thought of approaching Santa. They could barely look in his general direction much less sit on his lap. They were dressed in their holiday finery and one little girl was ripping the bow out of her hair while screaming at the top of her lungs. Really? Is it essential that we get this photo? Can't we just pick up some summer sausage and call it a day?

Last stop: the Tommy Bahama store for their deliciously smelling pineapple cilantro candle. Apparently the salespeople at Tommy Bahama get paid on commission because everybody was bending over backwards to help me. Sure enough, when I got to the counter, the cashier asked, "And who was helping you today, ma'am?" As I handed her my credit card I told her that it seemed to me that the entire sales force was eager to please. She swiped my card, but it didn't seem to work. She swiped again and again, but still, it didn't work. Now keep in mind, I had just swiped the thing at least 4 times within the last hour. Not to mention, I never have cash on me, so that card is swiped several times a week and I have never had a problem. But to no avail, the card was not registering and so she called the manager over for help. Hello? Has she never keyed in a credit card? (she would be blown away by Shelby at the Apple store).

The manager took over the keyboard and completed the transaction while thanking me for my patience and printing out my receipt. Then, instead of handing back my card, he pulled out one of those old-fashioned, handheld swipers. I'm not talking about the wireless gadget that they are holding two doors down at the Apple store, I'm talking about the big hunk o'metal clunker that slides across the card imprinting it on carbon paper. What the? The manager assured me that he was not double dipping, he simply needed a copy of my card for security purposes. Because nothing screams security like a piece of carbon paper.

And with that...I sashayed out of the mall and into the holiday's the most wonderful time of the year!