I have never been one of those folks who is enamored with shopping. Of any kind. And that goes double for with Christmas shopping. I expect that’s why I experienced the incident described below in my Newspaper column.
It was warm when we left Florida a couple of weeks ago but it sure wasn’t when we arrived back here for the Christmas celebrations. Since I’ve gotten older, I’m not much for cold temperatures but the first few days of it are invigorating as long as we have some sunshine to go with it.
Another good thing about cold weather is that it gives me an excuse to make Chili. I don’t think there’s a better way to warm your innards when the cold winds blow. But even though Chili is one of my favorite foods, we never eat it in Florida because it just doesn’t taste right in 80 degree weather.
When we left our campground early in the morning to head for Indiana, it was sunny. The temperature was already in the seventies and remained there until we stopped in Cordele, Georgia for the night. It was partly cloudy and the temperature was still hovering in the mid-sixty range when we went through Chattanooga the next day and only moved into the fifties when we were negotiating the horrendous Nashville, Tennessee traffic. Then the sun disappeared and the rain started.
Somewhere around Madisonville, Kentucky, the temperature had dropped into the low thirties, the rain was turning to sleet and I started thinking about a bowl of Chili. By the time we reached home, I was checking the pantry for ingredients and made a trip to the meat market for two pounds of coarse ground Chuck Roast. I was taking a chance on purchasing the coarse ground because Susie and I disagree on its use. The fat particles are more visible in this grind but I feel like it gives the Chili a manly heft. Susie thinks it’s a little more primeval than that and likes to point out that is probably the way cavemen ate prehistoric Chili.
Nonetheless, I am the Captain of the ship when it comes to making this dish so coarse ground Chuck it was going to be. After the batch was made, I set the pan outside in the cold to let the flavors meld. –This may just be an old wives tale but it does seem to taste better after it sits for a while.-
Later that evening, that pot of Chili started calling me. This was bad news; I can’t eat Chili after six o’clock in the evening anymore. Both the mental and physicals results are unpredictable. Nonetheless, even though I know better, I warmed up a bowl and added a few flakes from a jar of ground red pepper that I had found on sale at the grocery store. –I also knew better than to buy that hot stuff but Good Lord, the price was half off and I’m a sucker for marked down products. That gets me in trouble on occasion.-
The next morning we awoke early. I dropped Susie off at our daughter’s house for a cookie making session and I went in search of a Christmas present for her. The day before, I had found a notice in our mailbox of a private sale at a large department store just for their most valued customers. Wow, I thought. Somebody finally appreciates me. My self-esteem went right through the roof. I was headed to the Department Store until I looked at the front of the flyer. It was addressed to ‘Occupant’. Deflated, I tossed Mr. occupant’s mail in the wastebasket and decided I would just visit their competitor.
The big double doors swung open and a Sumo wrestler sized, air-filled Santa Claus greeted me while the sound of Jingle Bells blared out from a loudspeaker mounted high in the recesses of the building’s roof. I could barely get by him and I had to maneuver around this huge perversion of a blow-up doll. His massive oxygen laden stomach half blocked the aisle way so I pushed in on his belt buckle and forced that huge belly out of my way. This had the effect of making his head swell up to alarming proportions but I managed to squeeze through before his eyeballs exploded. The strains of ‘Oh Holy Night’ suddenly made their way over the public address system. Good Lord, can they do that? Religious songs in a Public establishment? I immediately looked around to see if the ACLU had set up shop and brought in the protest troops but nothing of that sort was in evidence.
Getting by old fat Santa, I confronted the next obstacle. A ten foot high plastic snowman also filled with air towered in front of me. The broom under his massive snow arm didn’t have enough air in it and it drooped down like the ears on a ten year old bassett hound. I tried to straighten it but it fell right back down, limp as a goose. Suddenly, I realized a lady was watching me try to prop up the broom. I give her a sickly little smile hoping she wouldn’t think I’m some sort of snowman pervert and dropped the broom handle.
That was enough for me. I headed for the outside and some fresh air. I watched as a tiny, elegantly dressed young lady climbed clumsily into what looked like a….. a….. huge military vehicle. My God, What is she doing driving an assault weapon around during this season of joy and love? What has happened to our Christmas? Our beautiful, old fashioned Christmas. Did it ever exist? What have we done? How did it degenerate into a retail buying frenzy? ‘
I screamed. AAAAAGH! When do we stop this madness? Suddenly, I woke up. I looked around, still in bed and tangled in the covers. Sweat was popping out, soaking my forehead. My God. It was all a dream. A terrible, chili induced nightmare. It wasn’t real at all; there are no air filled plastic snowmen. Our traditional Christmas must still be intact. I bounded out of bed, flung open the window and yelled: ‘Thank you, Bob Cratchett and you too, Tiny Tim.’
Actually, I didn’t say that. What I actually said was “Sweet Jesus. That scared the crap out of me.” but you can’t say stuff like that in the newspaper. I also omitted that part about the ACLU in the newspaper version. I don’t want them knocking on my door looking for religious objects. Also, you probably should know that I am not a strong advocate of blow-up figures with the possible exception of…… Well, never mind.