Wednesday, December 24, 2008

'Twas the Night Before Christmas

I've always loved Christmas Eve, almost more than Christmas Day itself. The anticipation that builds as the days get closer to Christmas reaches it's peak on December 24th. I remember our Christmas Eves when we were growing up as some of the best. School was closed for the holidays so my sister and I usually wandered around the house, eager for the time to pass quicker. My mom often had to work (she's a nurse) but most times my dad had the day off and he was in charge of keeping us occupied. He would build a fire and the Christmas lights would be on for the entire day. My best friend Megan would usually come over or I would spend a few hours at her house, the two of us dancing around to the John Denver and The Muppets Christmas album or chattering away about what Santa might leave for us under the tree. Sometime during the afternoon dad would start to bring down the presents and place them under the tree. My parents would always bring a modest amount of packages down and spread them out under the tree convincing my me and my sister that that was all the presents. Once we were in bed they would bring down the rest of the gifts so that Christmas morning the presents seemed to be bursting out from under the tree. Once my mom came home from work our excitement really began to build as we realized that the day would soon be coming to an end. Mom usually made something special for dinner and then we dressed up in our Christmas dresses to go to Christmas Eve service, possibly the only time of year that I looked forward to going to church. The entire day built up to our Christmas Eve gift. When we were home from church and in our pajamas my sister and I were each given one present to open before bedtime. It was just a small taste of what the next morning would bring. Once our greedy little appetites were whetted we were off to bed where we were told to stay until at least 7am and no earlier (in later years the rule was no waking the parents until we had the coffee brewing). Since sleep was nearly impossible I spent some time lying in bed, eyes wide open, looking at the Christmas decorations I had strewn across my room and listening for Santa on the roof. Megan and I had a Christmas Eve tradition of signaling to each other from our bedroom windows which both faced the alley behind our houses. We both had electric candles in the window and we would turn the light bulb on and off to "talk" to each other. There was never any meaning behind our signals just two little girls having a secret best friend moment that was our very own Christmas tradition and no one elses.

Now that I'm a little less young, sadly, some of the anticipation and magic of Christmas Eve has waned. This morning, in honor of it being Christmas Eve and not just another Wednesday morning, I awoke early with Arbor Boy, who had to work today, to make a special Christmas Eve breakfast of eggs and bacon. The radio played Christmas tunes as I went about my daily routine but the little girl inside of me was still feeling the anticipation. Tonight we'll pack up gifts for the family and start the "Krissy and Alex Winter Tour '08". We'll arrive late out on Long Island but that won't stop us from poking around under the tree for the gifts that bear our names. Happily, our Christmas will be extended through the weekend as we make our way to Pennsylvania to celebrate Christmas with my family. And maybe that's the trade off we get when we grow up, a little less Christmas Eve excitement but a lot more Christmas Day celebration.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Ode to The Muppets

You can't get much better than this. Two of my favorite things - Beethoven and Beaker from The Muppets.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

For Mom

As a stubborn teenager, I adamantly stated that I would never grow up to be like my mom. Well, here I am all grown up and I must begrudgingly admitting that, without even being aware of it, I've become quite a bit like my mom...and it's not a bad thing at all.

From your perpetually hardheaded, eternally outspoken, forever-a-teenager-in-her-own-mind daughter...


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Dirty Laundry

Our laundromat around the corner recently gave their awning a facelift. I never knew the name of the place until now...I kind of wish I still didn't.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Best Christmas album. Ever.

John Denver and The Muppets' A Christmas Together is the best Christmas Album. Period. I'm sorry but there is no arguing this fact. My sister and I listened to this album every year from Thanksgiving through New Year's when we were growing up. It's surprising that we didn't wear out the album. It was also a Christmas special shown on TV for a number of years. Still don't believe me when I say it's the best? Here's John Denver and Rolf singing my favorite Christmas carol - Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Money Talks

I was brought up with the understanding that the discussion of money has no place in polite conversation. You don't ask how much something costs, you don't leave the price tag on a gift and you don't ask how much someone makes. Of course, nowadays where nothing is private and casual is the new formal I've allowed myself to fall into some of these monetary discussions that were once verboten. I suffered through the "starving artist" comments after getting my bachelor's degree in theater, mostly because I was neither starving nor an artist for the most part. I spent the bulk of my artistic years in the city working as a bartender and server making good money so I usually let the ramen noodle jokes roll off my back. As well, I became accustomed to the tourists sitting at my bar asking questions regarding what I paid in rent, how much it cost to ride the subway everyday and if groceries were more expensive here. I answered because I knew they weren't being rude (usually), just curious, and they typically prefaced all their queries with "if you don't mind my asking".

But asking a few innocent questions is not exactly where my issue lies. What I would like to know is when did it become appropriate to make judgment calls on a person's career choice based on the salary it provided, especially when two people are mere acquaintances? Allow me to elaborate. As I said before, I went along with all the starving artist jokes that were thrown my way, mainly because there is quite a bit of truth behind it. Most people who are performers know that they may never make a living in their art and many are proud to be "starving artists". The same cannot be said for other career choices - veterinary nursing, for one. I recently found myself in a conversation (with someone in the very same veterinary career choice as me, no less**) who, after hearing that my first degree was in theater and my second was veterinary nursing, made the comment, "Wow, you picked two careers where you won't make any money." Now, first of all, I had known this person for maybe a full three hours up to this point. Second, while I'll concede that the theater career was bound to leave me destitute, the veterinary nursing pays a decent living wage. No, I will never buy a winter home in Aspen or a Mercedes with my salary but I'm not likely to be living in a cardboard box on Houston Street, either. Later, I mistakenly added that I may one day get my masters so that I can teach, a remark that was again greeted with an observation about my hypothetical salary. At this point I realized that I was talking to someone who valued money above an interesting, challenging career and I left it at that.

But the conversation stuck with me and the more I thought about it the more annoyed I became. Why must this country place so much emphasis on money? Why am I laughed at because I want to work in a field that will probably never pay me six figures? I did not choose my career based on the amount of money I could make. If that was my plan I would have majored in international business or chemical engineering. I chose my career because I was interested in it, because it was a growing field with a lot of opportunities and, most of all, because it made me happy to go to work. After shaking margaritas for so many years and being miserable, that means a lot. So I will happily take my modest salary, I will drive my Ford and maybe one day have a cozy three bedroom house, I will take vacations to places where I can stay with friends and shop at the Gap instead of Gucci. But I will be happy.

**Incidentally, the person I was conversing with is headed off to veterinary medical school, leaving us veterinary nurses with our so-called meager paychecks. Said person believes he will be making six figures in no time although the average median salary for a veterinarian is roughly $80,000. Good luck with those student loans!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Top Five Most Irritating Christmas Songs

In no particular order...

1. Christmas Wrapping by The Waitresses
2. Feliz Navidad (any version)
3. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus (again, any version)
4. Santa Baby (the Madonna version)
5. Any Christmas song sung by Mariah Carey