Christmas Box Office

We spend Christmas in a small town an hour north of Nashville, just across the Kentucky state line. Twenty-six people slept in a house with one-and-a-half bathrooms. Holly and I had to fight for our air mattress, which was next to two other air mattresses in the dining room.

les_miserables_french-posterIt was once a tradition for the family to see a movie on Christmas day. That went out of style several years ago but we have all been very interested in Les Miserables, the musical about French people going through hard times. I believe it translates to Everyone Eventually Dies. Most of my family has seen the play several times and we wanted to sing along with their melancholy. Because it’s Christmas.

Holly and I drove forty-five minutes to the nearest movie theater in Glasgow, KY, using the backroads that my grandfather Pa Will calls, highways. My brother Harlin and my sister and her husband rode with us. En route, we forced Harlin to lay out his life plan. “Coaching, and either teaching math or history.” I voted history in our straw poll. Harlin is very good at telling stories as well as memorization. He would be wonderful, fleshing out old events with new language.

The parking lot was packed so we sent Harlin ahead to buy tickets. However, once we had parked, we couldn’t find him. We searched the box office. We searched the lobby and concessions. Finally we found him waiting outside the theater door. Only then did we realize that not a single employee was taking tickets. Though the cinema was very popular that evening, there wasn’t a soul of security. I assume small towns are on an honor system.

The movie was fairly good, though the screen was small and the sound quality bad. It reminded me of a Turkish movie theater in its mediocrity. We sat in the back, directly in front of a loud talker who wasn’t really that interested in the movie. Instead, he told his girlfriend several incorrect facts about the French Revolution before he began to eat his popcorn loudly – no, wait, they were making out. With a smoker’s voice, a supreme confidence in his false history and his complete swagger, I assumed this was one of the first dates. When the lights came up, he was in his mid-thirties, though he had a sailor’s face, weathered by salt water and storms.

On the long drive home, we joked about that man and Russel Crowe’s Creed voice. I also pointed out that we didn’t have to buy tickets. We could’ve simply walked in.

“I know,” Harlin said. “I bought six tickets for nothing.”

The car quieted a moment before my brother-in-law Cory said, “How many of us are there?”

“Six,” Harlin answered with confusion.

There were only five. “I guess this rules out teaching math,” Cory said.


Celebrating Christmas One Party at a Time

Tis the season to have Christmas parties. As I inch closer to becoming an adult (45 here I come!), I find that Christmas is often celebrated more as a elder human. While Santa is often used as a sight gag, presents carry a much greater weight.

Camp War Eagle hosted a Christmas dinner for 150 of our families, most of whom could not afford what my television defines as a normal Christmas. Food bags, toys and gift cards were distributed. I was tapped to be the Master of Ceremonies but in the end was relegated to a sort of Semi-Pro of Ceremonies, as I think most people loudly ate and conversed over my talk show format. Which is fine, because it wasn’t earth shattering comedy.

I led with this:

“What is your parent’s favorite Christmas carol?”

I paused while the translator relayed this in Spanish (half of the families are native Spanish speakers).

“Silent Night!” I shouted. When I looked at the translator with glee, he simply shook he head, dejected. “Really?” I asked. “I thought the humor would translate.”

The show did give a few of our campers the chance to perform music in front of an audience of six hundred, which I think is a wonderful life skill to build upon. However, I did scratch one high schooler’s cello while positioning his microphone. Apparently that horror translates well into Spanish.

(The dinner took place in a large ballroom, The Metroplex, which usually hosts weddings and quinceaneras. As such, it boasted a complex laser light, disco ball and smoke system for raves. Which inexplicably turned on during the cellist’s performance of “Ave Maria.” Spicy.)

Two days later, our organization hosted an appreciation Christmas dinner for our volunteers. While I didn’t host, I was in charge of gifts. After ordering 80 16-oz coffee mugs, I was given 20 dollars for “useless whatevers.”

Little did they know.

20 dollars later I returned from the Dollar Tree, typed out a personality test based on all of the bits and pieces I picked up, and crammed it all into the mug. I will reproduce it below.

World’s Fastest Personality Test
1. Empty the contents of the mug.
2. Get one cup of water for the table.
3. Put the small pill into the cup of water (one that expands into a foam animal).
4. Examine the jumping bean (one that came in a pack of 37 bizarrely countenanced jumping beans).
Is it angry? Give yourself 10 points.
Unnaturally happy? 5 points.
Confused? 0 points.
Concussed? -5 points.
5. Fill out the Sudoku with the crayon.
6. Consume the candy cane.
7. Stop filling out the Sudoku.
Finish a number set? 10 points.
Write four numbers? 5 points.
Attempt it? 0 points.
Skip the step? -5 points.
8. How did you eat the candy cane?
Stirred into hot chocolate? 10 points.
Sucked into a shank? 5 points.
Crunched to death? 0 points.
Don’t like peppermint? -5 points.
9. Check the pill in the water cup.
Is it a dinosaur? 10 points.
A mammal? 5 points.
A bug? 0 points.
Nothing happened? -5 points.
10. Now add all your points.
40-30 – You’re a wizard, Harry.
30-20 – You’re an Aquaris.
20-10 – You’re a golden retriever.
10-0 – You’ll get it next time.
0-(-10) – You’re an artist.
(-10)-(-20) – You’re really bad at this.