2010 Christmas Season

December 30, 2010

The standards of decent storytelling require me to start our holiday recap not with Christmas itself and not with the chronological beginning of the season. Instead, I jump out to December 19. It’s a dark and cold Sunday night, and we find ourselves in the middle of nowhere, some 30 minutes outside of the spot where Birmingham, Alabama’s civilized limit stops.

We had spent a long day in the car to get to this spot in the middle of nowhere. And although this yard of decorations was not our intended stop, it was to me, the highlight of the entire Christmas season.

After winding through roads that were increasingly rural, we came on a small country house, with around an acre of lights. It was necessary to go quite slowly to let the eye take in the scene that unfolded as you drove through: little huts with different scenes, lights, trees, Santa Clause, reindeer, American Indians and Pioneers (?!), and so much more.

My personal favorite was the Ferris wheel, complete with creepy doll passengers.

Keep in mind that I’m one of the fortunate ones who gets to view the Christmas lights of Natchitoches, LA at least annually. I have described that town’s downtown area by saying, “From one year to another, I forget just what an ungodly monstrosity this all is.� Understand that I use “ungodly monstrosity� with all of the love and admiration that the phrase can possibly contain.

We were at this Alabama scene for no more than ten minutes or so, but I think it impresses me even more than Natchitoches. For one thing, it’s the effort of a private citizen. For another, the small house on the property doesn’t appear to be large enough to hold the broken down display from January to November.

The Santa on the Polar Express was one of the best that I've seen in many years.

From there, we went to a train depot, built and maintained by nerd enthusiasts rather than by an actual railroad. In order to share their locomotive love, they’ve created their own little Polar Express, where you roll through the woods, and end up at a fake North Pole. A Santa gets on the train, takes pics with the kids, and then you get some cookies and roll back to the station. It couldn’t be more silly, but the little ones believed it, and it was fun to see them enjoy the trip.

On this train, Santa didn’t ask the kids what they wanted for Christmas. Which is a good thing, since Vanya never answered that question twice. Early in the season, he only wanted a Zurg, a fairly minor character in Toy Story 2. Since Toy Story 3 is out, it’s quite hard to find toys from the prior movie, and Mrs. Theskinnyonbenny had to scour the internet good and hard to find a crappy Zurg for the low low price of fifty dollars.

The next day, we saw Santa at Baton Rouge’s downtown festival. After waiting a long time in line, Vanya got up there with Santa and immediately asked for a Superman. When he got down off of Santa’s lap, he asked, “So where is it?� as he started to open Santa’s fake bag to look for his toy. I guess I didn’t explain how the toys are delivered very well.

It turns out to be just about as hard to find a Superman as it is to find Zurg. The week before Christmas, we checked most of the toy stores in town and found nothing. Finally, Mrs. theskinnyonbenny had the brilliant idea to go to a comic book store. I happened to know of one next door to a sandwich shop I used to frequent, and they not only had a Superman, they had two. And they’re pretty good action figures too.

Two days before Christmas, Vanya asked me if Santa would wake him up and ask what he wants for Christmas. I told him that Santa probably knows by now what he wants. He said, “Good, because I want to get a Megamind.� Good grief.

By the way, Santa did not bring a Megamind.

This is running long, but here are a few other hits from the past month, which probably all deserved their own post at the time that they happened.

  • If you received 2 Christmas cards, it's because we never sent out last year's. Sure we could have thrown them away, but what a waste. I thought the message in this year's card, plus the age difference made this clear, but I'm told that I am wrong on this count.
  • Vanya came home from school with a home-made nativity scene. Or at least the three primary characters in that scene: Jofus, Mary, and of course Jesus, who is nothing more than a wood ball in a seriously small flower pot. It's kind of neat that he made something that we can pull out with the decorations year in and year out, but he found it even neater that Mary and Jofus made serviceable action figures. To him, the capes mean that they can fly.
    Jesus, Mary, and Jofus
  • As the Clarks and theskinnyonbenny family were walking through the Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans, Clay ran into someone he knew. He was behind us all, so we paused and waited for him to have a conversation. I got bored, so I walked up behind him, and went into a humping motion near one of his legs. When that barely distracted him, I said, "C'mon Clay. Let's go make sweet love." Turns out that the younger man he was talking to was someone they know from church and someone who has a kid who comes over and plays with their daughter. The older man was that guy's father. This gave Clay some distress, but we didn't know how much until an hour or so later, when we found him nose-to-nose with a stranger, threatening to kick his ass. I don't really know the story there, but Clay had talked to the guy for a long time, and apparently, he was a real dick. Clay could only take so much. The bartender even said, "That guy was making comments that you just don't make to strangers."

I also have pics up from all of this.