Saturday, December 16, 2006

How do you know it's the holiday season?

Each one of has a little signal inside ourselves that is activated to signal “the true beginning of the holiday season”. For most of us it’s not the Christmas decorations which appear around the beginning of the fall school year. If you live in the dessert, south of the equator, or at the beach, there’s certainly no “chill in the air”, or white on the ground to foster the holiday spirit. Many people might peg the beginning of the season as the day after Thanksgiving. A day of shopping *shudders with horror*, or picking out the family Christmas tree.

You know what my 3 indicators are?

  1. Hearing Adam Sandler’s,“Hanukkah Song” or his, New Hanukkah Song! Each time I manage to find it, it puts a big ol’ cheesy smile on my face! (Cut and paste these if the links don’t work) or

  2. A shipment of persimmons from my mom so I can make my grandmother’s Persimmon Cookies – without RAISINS!

  3. Watching the Grinch Who Stole Christmas!

For me, Max is the BEST reason to watch The Grinch! The rest of the story is cute, but it all begins and ends with Max! Before VHS or Beta was invented, my December weeknights were scheduled around the TV Guide, waiting for it to proclaim the night they’d show, The Grinch.

When I moved to Arizona, I needed the Grinch more than ever. How do you get into the holiday spirit when you’re surrounded by lighted cacti and decorated palm trees? It never rains, so the streets never look like oil paintings reflecting the holiday lights, and trust me, it’s not like you’re pulling out your favorite Christmas sweaters, winter jackets, gloves/hats and scarves to say warm! It was the Max who reminded me it was time to find the holiday spirit.

For several years, I’d invite all my friends over on the night the Grinch was on TV, so my tree would get decorated. (I HATE decorating the tree by myself, but figured the bribe of food, alcohol and the Grinch was sufficient bait to round up the gang. It always worked.) Shortly after the tradition started I received my first Dr. Seuss book of the Grinch. It was perfect! Now we could sit around and share our favorite lines. The following year brought the VCR tape. Even better, now tree trimming could be scheduled on my time, not the network's time!

Relocating from Arizona back to California brought about the first instance of watching the Grinch by myself. I was dreading it … no friends, a new house (to me), to decorate on my own, and watching the Grinch by myself. I steeled myself for a disappointing evening. I figured it would be like eating store bought guacamole. It’d have all the right colors and textures, but the taste? Nothing like the real thing! However that’s not what happened! Although there was no one to share Max with I still laughed myself silly.

The next year rolled around, and although I’d made friends, because of my impossibly crazy work schedule, I didn’t have time to decorate my house – or tree. You’ll never guess how surprised and delighted I was the night I came home from a very, very, long day at the office – and noticed lights glowing inside my house. As I pulled my pickup into the driveway, I could see something flashing, reflected from the mantle mirror. I quickly left my truck, and upon unlocking my front door saw my fireplace mantle and the rest of my living room had been decorated with garlands and lights – by my Aunt Pen-pen! All the weariness of the day slipped away as I poured myself a scotch and snuggled in on the couch with the Grinch. Once again Chuck Jones and Dr. Seuss worked their magic.

I was sitting there all by myself and laughing like a fool over Max’s antics.

This week, Max (uhh, I mean “The Grinch”) was on network TV. I was in the middle of a conversation, and I excused myself so I could pay full attention to the TV. I felt kinda rude, you know? I mean, heck, I am over 40 and it is “just” a cartoon, after all. Once I’d excused myself, I thought, “Moi, Max isn’t really that funny, there's no one here to watch your reaction, so there’s need to laugh out loud.”

The next thing? His tail is stuck in the sewing machine needle and I am giggling like an idiot. Then he gets his reindeer antlers. Well, you know as well as I do, it starts out to be a full rack, but weight dynamics and the some other scientific principles demand the rack be pruned to a horn.

By the time they are headed down the hill, I am holding my sides and gasping for breath.

Did you know Max was an addition created by Chuck Jones to fill out the cartoon so it could run in a half-hour time slot? I didn’t either until they put together a special on the creation of the cartoon. You could have blown me over when that revelation came blaring out of the TV. Max isn’t the star? He’s not the whole purpose of the short? Pul-ueze! Max is what makes the animation. When I see Max, I see the expressions from all of our crazy hunting dogs we’ve had over the years. I mean how many times have we had a dog who did not want to go where it SHOULD be going? Doesn’t every dog owner recognize this expression? See I’m giggling just looking at this picture! I can so identify. This is, “Oh crap, they’re going to bathe me”, or “Oh crap, now we’re going to the vet. Maybe that drip irrigation line wasn’t so tasty after all!”

You know this expression, right? This is certainly, “Let’s go for a ride”, or “Wanna take a walk?”. Maybe it’s, “Oh boy, dad just put the shotguns in the Yukon, we're going Pheasant Hunting!”, or “Yippy! She left a pile of warm, fresh-from-the-dryer, laundry in the middle of the bed”. If you have a dog, you’ve seen this expression time and time again. I guess that’s really why Max is my favorite. It doesn’t have so much to do with the message – although it's important message. One I’m actually alluding to here in this post. The message is it isn’t the commercial “things” that make up the holidays. It’s the sentimental, memory laden activities, and thoughts that bring about that holiday feeling.

Welcome to the holidays everyone. We’re almost there. I’ve listened to Adam, I’ve split my sides with Max. Now if those persimmons will just show up, it will be Christmas!


Joe said...

Egg nog in the grocery store is what does it for me.

Anonymous said...

Heya Mit!

For me personally, I know that it is the holiday season when I start to see those annoying and disruptive Old Navy holiday themed commercials on television. They don't mention anything about the true meaning of Christmas...but they show oodles of teenie boppers and twenty-something'ers, prancing about in really ugly outfits, donning dorky smiles and dollar signs in their eyes. After seeing those commercials a few times, the vein in my forehead nearly pops. Then I know that it is surely the holiday season. Fun times!



Anonymous said...

...and now, the Grinch that stole MitMoi! : ) -Alacrityfitz