Saturday, December 14, 2019

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: The Christmas Song (1961)

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) The lyrics mention "chestnuts roasting on an open fire." Do you often eat chestnuts? I don't recall ever eating a chestnut. Am I missing something wonderful?

2) There's a reference to Jack Frost, too. Does cold weather help you get into the holiday spirit? It helps. I enjoy that we get four distinct seasons here, and snow and cold are part of winter ... and Christmastime.

3) Nat sings that turkey helps to make the season bright. We just had it last month for Thanksgiving. Do you enjoy turkey all year around? Or do you consider it primarily a holiday dish? I eat turkey all year around. I prefer it to chicken.

4) This song was published as "The Christmas Song," but people often refer to it as "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire" or "Merry Christmas to You." When you think of this song, which title comes to mind? "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire."

5) Nat King Cole had a big hit in the 1950s with "Mona Lisa." The ballad compares an enigmatic woman to the da Vinci painting, which hangs in the Louvre. The Mona Lisa has been called the most instantly identifiable painting in the world. Can you think of another famous painting that you recognize on sight? (Extra points if you include a picture!)

American Gothic

6) Best remembered today as a singer, Cole was also an accomplished composer and jazz pianist. Do you like jazz? Not especially.

7) The only Christmas card Sam has received so far this year is from her dentist. She never sees Dr. Douglas socially. In fact, she hasn't seen him since her annual check-up last March. Have you received many cards this year? Seven so far. I predict I'll get an even dozen by Christmas.

8) When did/will you start holiday shopping this year: Christmas Eve, Thanksgiving/Black Friday, Halloween? Earlier than that? I shop all year around. If I see the perfect gift for someone, I snap it up.

9) This time of year is big for charitable fundraising. Here's your chance to plug a cause or organization that's near and dear to you. I'm an enthusiastic supporter of the local food pantry. It's good to help my neighbors and keep my contributions close to home. Here's how to find your local food bank.

It's good to get out of myself

Things at work annoyed me today. We really aren't busy, it's my last workday of 2019, and so everything should be going smoothly. Yet it wasn't.

Hamid is getting on my nerves. He's very enthusiastic about getting stuff done, but he pays no attention whatsoever to process. He knows he's cutting corners, because I've told him. He also knows I like him, so he thinks that if he makes funny faces and charms me, I won't mind. He's wrong. I mind a lot. I'm worried that mistakes are going to get into print because Hamid is going rogue.

I had to get out of the office at lunchtime. I just had to have some alone time. I felt my Christmas spirit dissipating.

So I went "home," to the buffet in the building where we had offices until 2018. I spent many Christmases in that building, and I thought seeing the familiar decorations would cheer me up.

Instead I was jolted.

On December 13, with just 7 days to go, the building toy drive is at just 2% of goal. Every year, the tenants of this 83-story skyscraper contribute toys to brighten Christmas for abused, abandoned kids in a Catholic home. But this year, no one is giving.

I have 2 -- maybe 3 -- holiday get-togethers this coming week. I'm going to Key West the following week. My holiday shopping is done. I was hoping to be conservative with my money. But this was unacceptable. There has to be a way to help without busting my budget.

I remembered the Extra Bucks coupon I tucked in my wallet. Worth $3 at CVS. That's a start toward a toy, isn't it?  I got a set of "fashion dolls" -- generic Barbies -- that included two dolls and four outfits. With the coupon, it came to $7 and change, which I had on hand. It made me happy to drop the set of dolls into the unfortunately empty toy box.

Yes, I'm mad at Hamid for being manipulative. Yes, I'm mad at my boss for not taking the situation seriously.

But work problems happen every day, every week, every month of the year. This is Christmas. Christmas matters. Christmas means something.

An abused or abandoned little girl is going to get a pair of dolls from Santa. Just as Emily, the 4-year-old here in my neighborhood, is getting a sweater, a Frozen II Golden Book and an Anna/Elsa notebook. Two girls are going to get a dose of Christmas magic, in spite of their circumstances.

I did those things.

It's good to get out of myself and into others.

If you're looking for a way to help kids this Christmas, why not look to Toys for Tots?

$250 and words of encouragement

Wednesday was the office party. I didn't go. I never go. I don't feel like getting all dressed up, just to see my coworkers do things they'll regret the next day. (This year's notable moment: our chief digital officer reached for an hors d'oeuvres and ignited his sleeve on a candle. Of course, someone caught it on her phone. I don't find this funny and won't watch it.)

Learn about the Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation
Instead I went to dinner with my friend Kathleen. It was our annual birthday/Christmas celebration. For her birthday, I got her a t-shirt from The Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation, which benefits families who are battling cancer, and it gave me an opportunity to tell her how much I admired how Kathleen handled herself during her own battle with the disease. For Christmas, I gave her an ornament I had made with one of her favorite pix of her daughter and her husband. (Facebook comes in handy at times like this!)

There was a symmetry to our gift giving. For my birthday, she gave me a Beatle pillow case, which she purchased for me during a family vacation to Jolly Old. And for Christmas, she gave me a glass cat ornament. I told her it's going with me to Key West, where I'll be on Christmas Day. I always decorate my hotel room, and why not display kitty?

We caught up on our lives and our friends. She asked about my theater buddy, Barb, who had been Kathleen's boss at one time. I mentioned how sad I was that Barb and I had drifted apart. Since she moved to Hilton Head, I don't hear from her anymore. I've reached out with chatty little emails that don't get returned. I miss Barb, I worry about her and I wonder what I've done to upset or alienate her.

Kathleen told me, in her best mom voice, that I must not do this to myself and I have to entertain the notion that Barb could be going through stuff that has nothing to do with me. That made me feel better because I haven't forgotten how much Barb has suffered and I'd never intentionally do anything to hurt her.

Then, on Thursday, two things happened:

1) I won the Christmas party raffle and received a $250 gift card to Tao! This amuses me because I didn't even know I was entered in the raffle, and Tao is restaurant/nightclub frequented by the cool kids. The cast of Empire hangs out there while shooting. And here I'll come, wearing my jeans and armed with my gift card!

2) I got a Christmas card from Barb, indicating that Kathleen was right.

All's well that ends well!