Tag Archives: xmas

Last Minute Shopping

The fluorescent lights twitched across the faded gray rug between the shelves of generic cold medicine. The stale smell of the store’s heater prodded at Jason’s nose. Flipping his blonde dreads back, he stopped by the cough drops and scanned the aisle-description signs. This one said “Toys,” but only ingestible healing products surrounded him. Why did every Rite Aid have a different layout, and why could he never find anything in any of them?

After pacing up and down three more aisles, he realized the toys had been moved to a special holiday section. The one that generally had bags of candy and stuffed animals, so he never paid attention to it. He took out his phone to check the time — it was 8:40. He was already ten minutes late.

Much of the plastic shelving lay empty, scattered blister packs lounging in various positions. Some areas, the ones above the larger yellow price tags denoting the sale items, had been empty so long they had accumulated a thin layer of dust. Shit. It’s not like he had assumed that whatever he got here would be awesome. No one had ever been satisfied with drugstore toys. Still, he figured there’d be more than this.

His right hand buzzed like a joke handshake — he had forgotten to put his phone back in his pocket. He knew it was his sister without even looking. Shit shit.

Thumbing down on the screen, he scanned the shrapnel that remained. “Yeah? You’re right, I’m not. I will be, but not…I gotta take care of a couple things. No, that’s already…I got all that.”

As she relished the chance to outline all the people waiting for him to get to the party, he used his other hand to pile up whatever he could use. There was a Two-Face action figure that didn’t seem related to any particular representation of the Batman universe he had ever seen. Near that he found a couple packs of generic American Hero action figures (cop, firefighter, solider, all with maybe two points of articulation). Good enough to cover the two nephews. Pink packages with pictures of glittery puppies holding whatever would cover the little girl. And for the baby, in the back behind a pair of fake plastic handcuffs he found one smudged ocean-green stuffed animal with pursed lips that opened into an O when squeezed. There’s a chance it was supposed to play a song, but it just whimpered instead.

“Right. Right. Look, I gotta go.” He hung up before she could button the guilt trip. Hugging the stack of toys to his frayed peacoat, he made his way to the counter. Calculating, he figured he’d make it there by quarter past. There’d be unrest, to say the least; but at least he wouldn’t be empty-handed.

Christmas Music Manifesto

Since it’s the season and all, here’s my gift to you, the readers of 5×500: a simple three step process for how to handle Christmas music during the holiday season. This will allow you to enjoy a festive spirit without feeling like you drank four gallons of eggnog.

(For some people, there’s no such thing as too much holiday tuneage. These are the folks who are happy when the local oldies station starts playing Grandma Got Run Over By Etc. on November 1. These people are insane. Obviously, nothing that follows will make sense to them — this is for everyone else.)

1. We can have Christmas music played in public the weekend after Thanksgiving. No one really loves the whole Black Friday phenomenon (except perhaps the idle rich or those with lives empty outside of binges of crass consumption); but I won’t begrudge the stores and malls of the nation to not get people in the holiday spirit by looping Bing Crosby. Along similar lines, some people might reasonably want to transition out of Thanksgiving and into the solstice season. In any event, you get this one weekend. Friday through Sunday.

2. After that: total moratorium on holiday music from the Monday after Thanksgiving through December 9. Exceptions can be made for early holiday parties, Xmas tree decorating, etc. But these are, in fact, exceptions — not rules. Without extenuating circumstances, keep the jolly under wraps.

(Side rule: you’re allowed to think that using “Xmas” is inherently stupid. You’re even allowed to hate it because it’s taking the Christ out of “Christmas.” But don’t get self-righteous and huffy about this; it only hurts your stance.)

((Side rule to the side rule, which is actually a really major rule: you can be upset about the secularization of Christmas, pining for the manger and Midnight Masses, grinding your teeth at trees and snowflakes instead of stars, etc. And you can be upset that people say “Season’s Greetings” or “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” But you can’t be upset about both. Either Christmas is a concept that transcends a particular religion and therefore can/must be embraced by everyone in our society in a secular way, or it’s a religious holiday only of import to Christians. It’s 2011; you can’t seriously argue that everyone needs to follow your traditions just because you think it’s the most rightest ride out there.))

3. From December 10 onward, it’s all systems go on the holiday music. The more the Christmas-ier. Roll on through the 25th (or, if you really want to stick with the twelve days concept, until the Epiphany on January 6). That gives you fifteen days to be surrounded by it — so even if you start to fade a little after ten, you’re so close to the big day, festive spirits will sweep you onward.

With your help, we can eradicate Christmas music overdoses by 2017. Thank you for your assistance, and happy Nat King Cole-ing.