Saturday, December 24, 2005

Happy Holidays

I still like Christmas, in spite of Fox News’ relentless and ignoble efforts to destroy it.

[Wil Wheaton has written an excellent essay about the effects of Fox News and the conservative radio on all of us. He links to Salon where the entire essay can be read with a day pass.]

Yesterday, the Viscountess and I went to Costco to shop for our annual Christmas party. This years’ was last night. We had all 6 of our children, the boyfriends of the two oldest, and my brother and sister-in-law.

We had a great time. Costco was crowded, but people (for the most part) seemed in good spirits. The checkout line was as long as I’d ever seen it, but it went lightening fast. The checker is a very nice lady in her late 30’s maybe. Southern accent. We’d had her before. The last time we were there, at the end of the transaction I couldn’t find my card. She said, “I gave it to you.” I said, “I can’t seem to find it.” She said, (matter-of-factly, with an absence of annoyance or sarcasm) “Sir, I’m certain that I gave it to you, please look again” and sure enough it was tucked behind another credit card in my wallet. It struck me that she was so nice about it. So many people who work with the public become callous and jaded, and her treatment of me and my mistake was refreshing.

As we were checking out, I said to her, “We both agree you are the best checker here. This line was so long and yet it flew. We’ve had you before and you do a great job.” I went on to tell her the story about the misplaced credit card. She said, “Sir, you made my day. That is all I want for Christmas, is to be appreciated.” Then she said, “You know, I’ve been saying ‘Merry Christmas’ to people, and no one has been offended or anything.” I said, “Yeah, if people say 'Merry Christmas,' 'Happy Holidays,' 'Season’s Greetings,' 'Happy Hanukah,' or whatever they mean well, so why would anyone be offended? The only person who seems to have a problem is Bill O’Reilly.” She laughed and said, “Yeah, he’s a trip, isn’t he?” and we all smiled. I said, “Merry Christmas and Happy New” year and she said “Same to you” and we left.

After we loaded up the Vibe, (we LOVE that car - my wife’s Regal’s transmission self-destructed at 40k and the car had given us trouble in the past so she traded it for an ’05 vibe) I had to return to the cart, and I found myself riding it across the parking lot, like I used to do when I was a kid. It felt so good.

I don’t look or act my age. Lots of people think that about themselves, but it is true with me. Full head of hair. Some sparse flecks of gray. Most of my friends at work are 10 to 15 years younger than I am. I still get into trouble sometimes for laughing too loud.

Doesn’t change that fact that I am 48. Not old, oh no, but, beyond that feeling that “unless I scratch the 8 ball, I got at least another 40 years.” Nope, can’t really say that at this point. They way I said it the other day was, “if I get 80 years, I’m in the middle of my 3rd quarter.” Still, I rode that cart like I was 12. Wind blowing back my hair, feeling the vibration from the wheels on the pavement and a big grin on my face. “This is still fun” I thought as I rode the cart to the corral. I walked back to the car with a little skip in my step.

Later on in the day, I picked up my brother and we went to my favorite wine shop and chatted with the “wine guy” who knows way more about wine than anyone I have ever met. He recommended and we bought a bottle of Bordeaux and a Red Zinfandel. Both were bargains. The Bordeaux was $16.99 and the Red Zin was only $8.99, but when “Robert” tells me to buy something I know I won’t be sorry.

The party started about 6:30. I put some Christmas discs on the changer, Diana Krall's "Christmas Songs,” a generic Christmas CD that we bought some years ago at a supermarket, and two odd things that I got over the years. One is called, “Xmas - The Beatmas” and the other is “A Fab Four Christmas.” Both bands make their livings playing Beatles music. “The Beatmas” are actually The Rubber Band. Both CD’s have the same theme: they rearrange classic Beatle songs and sing Christmas carols to the music.

We had lots of food. A spiral-sliced ham, 7 layer dip and tortilla chips, tiny hot dogs wrapped in bacon, bruschetta, pasta shells in marinara sauce, cheese and crackers, stuffed cabbage, and lots of sweets.

After dinner, we sat around in a big circle in the living room and just talked. We exchanged gifts with my brother and sister-in-law and the two boyfriends, because they won’t be here on Christmas morning. The adults drank the two bottles of wine, and Robert was right, they were bargains. The Bordeaux drank like a $40 bottle of wine, and the Zin drank like a $20 bottle.

The party was over; the boyfriends and my brother were gone. Those of us that were still awake watched the Dick Cheney / George C. Scott version “A Christmas Carol.” It was great. Made me feel optimistic and happy all over again.

It doesn’t have to be bad. We can’t let a bunch of vocal selfish self-righteous people destroy all that is good about our lives. I love the holidays, and for today, I feel optimistic.

I believe we have turned the corner. It will take time, but things will get better. Remember, everything we do matters. If we choose to do the right thing in every situation, in spite of self-interest, in spite of being surrounded by others who don’t seem to, we do make a difference.

I will be away until New Year’s Eve, with limited access to the internet. Here is wishing all of you Happy Holidays. Life is short – enjoy the good times when you are lucky enough to have them.


Blogger Neil Shakespeare said...

Great post, V. Sounds like you have a nice family there. Been great getting to know you a bit over the past few months. Happy Holidays and my very best to you and yours.

8:18 PM  
Blogger Bobby Lightfoot said...

Mssr. Le Visconte;

Glad you are of good cheer; wishing all the best to you and all of yours. Thanks for many musical discoveries this year.

Even though yer a bastard with that full head of hair.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

10:11 PM  
Anonymous Decatur Dem said...

M.le Viscomte,
Here's wishing you and the family all the best holiday tidings. We had both boys in for the Christmas Eve dinner, with our best friends. Dinner was Chicken Paprika (with paprika Larry and Sharon had brought us from Hungary last summer) from the NYTimes cookbook that we've had since we married in '78, with a bottle of Riesling and a Gewurtztraminer and a South African red. I gotta say, sometimes life is just really sweet. Tomorrow or the next day I'll re-focus on my political anger. Tonight I'm just happy to be here, above ground, with family and friends. So thanks for running a friendly shop that I can visit every day, and even make my own contribututions from time to time.
And remember: Brick Store Pub, most Wednesday nights. First round's on me.

vgfem: radical lesbian group that taunts you when you buy pork chops

10:55 PM  
Blogger Kevin Wolf said...

Great post, Al, and I hope your holidays are great all around.

I've seen the George C Scoot Carol twice this year - it's just great.

Spent time with my Republican family. I love 'em but it's nice to be home...

And damn the hair! I started going grey at 19 so I was already in trouble before I started losing it!

7:46 PM  
Blogger The Viscount LaCarte said...

damn the hair! - Genetics -no more no less. Perhaps we can make a trade? How is your blood pressure?

11:29 PM  
Blogger cali said...

"Life is short – enjoy the good times when you are lucky enough to have them."

I'd like you just as much if you didn't have great hair...really.

I apppreciate you - merry holidays to you & yours.

BTW - Was that a California zin or Australian? Chile?

2:30 AM  
Blogger The Viscount LaCarte said...

Was that a California zin or Australian? Chile?

Blue Monkey is a Dry Creek Red Zinfandel from Califronia. I think it was '02.

8:17 AM  
Blogger XTCfan said...

Nice post, Al. Best wishes to you and yours ... I look forward to fighting The Man with you in aught-six. Yer a good pal.

mugctw (what the Republicans are trying to do to Children's Television Workshop, and public TV in general)

11:42 AM  
Blogger Liberal Grrl said...

Merry Christmas. I myself went on news blackout until just today and I can't even tell you how much more joyous my holiday was. Ignorance is bliss. I loved this post, made me weepy a bit.

Happy New Year all!

2:45 PM  
Blogger cali said...

I've seen Blue Monkey but haven't tried it. Dry Creek refers to an area in Sonoma or Napa I think. I live near the oldest zin vine in California. Woo-hoo!

Thanks for the tip - I'll try it.

2:58 PM  

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