Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Hectic Holidays

Now that Thanksgiving is over, the whirlwind holiday season has begun. Since Turkey Day has also ushered in the season of caloric holiday indulgence, I have scheduled bouts of daily physical activity to combat additional poundage. I'm an infomercial addict, so I ordered an Urban Rebounder (basically, an indoor mini-trampoline). I never believe the exaggerated claims, but I enjoy a wide variety of exercise so I have a smorgasboard of "As Seen On TV" equipment and DVDs. Now that the weather is so gorgeous, I've started walking semi-regularly again, too.

Saturday night was so pleasant that I decided to hike downtown to see the snowfall again. It was a perfect evening for being outdoors, and I was curious as to whether the crowd would be as large as it had been on Friday.

When I reached downtown Celebration, I still had a little time before the snowfall, so I stopped at Sherlock's for a cup of rose hip tea. Then I hiked down to Market Street, past the NEV train and horse carriages (both of which seemed to be doing a booming business). There was a good sized crowd that seemed to grow progressively larger as the clock approached 8 p.m.

As I waited below one of the light poles, in the midst of a steadily swelling mass of people, a little truck came down the street, refilling the snow-makers with a hose running from a tank of liquid. A little knot of kids was harrassing the drivers, asking them how snowflakes could be made from soap.

Suddenly the tinny speakers sprang to life, and the number of people on Market Street seemed to instantly triple. It was the same recording from last year, with the same corny intro: the kids of Celebration wishing for snow. And of course, the wish was granted as the blowers kicked into gear and the bubbly snowflakes rained down on the expectant crowd below. On Friday, I saw a lot of locals; Saturday appeared to be almost exclusively tourists. I found it rather humorous that in a few days, the vast majority of them would probably be returning to real snow...yet here they were, burning precious vacation time to see the fake version.

The kids danced around in the blizzard while proud parents and grandparents snapped photos or rolled their camcorders. I was standing right in the line of fire, but I quickly moved to avoid getting soap in my tea. Whatever type they are using this year has a stronger than usual scent that sent me into a coughing fit; the same thing had happened on Friday. But most of the people seemed to be immune to any adverse respiratory effects.

I stayed until the end of the snowfall to see what songs would be played. Unfortunately, none of them caught my fancy; it was the same old selections from last year. Oh well, now that I have my Shakin' Stevens CD with my favorite tune from the Celebration Company/Disney days, I don't miss the old days as much.

When the snowfall stopped, I headed towards Celebration Avenue for the hike back to Duloc Manor. It's longer than the back way, but it would take me through the residential areas. Since it was such a beautiful night, I decided to take the longest route, which would take me through South Village and Roseville Corner, instead of going directly into East Village.

The night was ablaze with Christmas lights, and there was still enough Chicagoan left in me to marvel at the fact that I walking around in shorts in November in 70-something degree weather. I know all the old cliches about dreaming of a white Christmas, but I'll choose a green Christmas anytime.

On Sunday afternoon, after church, we hiked over to the Farmers Market, which is doing a booming business at its new location on Market Street. Hubby wanted to pick up some produce, while I sought out the French pastry booth. Then, at the head of the street, we discovered Christmas trees for sale. It was a fundraiser to help pay for landscaping at the school, and the trees were very fresh, having just been cut in North Carolina a few days earlier. Free delivery was even included, and it was prompt. Our newly purchased tree was already waiting on our front porch by the time we got home.

On Sunday night, hubby and I decided to make a late night run to Target to buy some holiday decortations. We put the real tree in the front room, with a silver tree in the family room, so we needed to deck them both out. Normally, I would stick to one tree, but since we're on the holiday house tour, I need to be a bit more extravagant than usual. I hate shopping in crowds, so we figured that if we went out after 10 p.m., we'd avoid the worst of the holiday rush.

We got out a little later than planned, so we didn't reach the store until 10:40. As we pulled into the empty parking lot, I was afraid that Target was closed already. Thankfully, they were open until 11, giving us 20 precious minutes to snatch enough booty to deck out Duloc Manor. We grabbed a cart and rushed to the seasonal section, tossing garland, ornaments, tree skirts, and toppers into a precarious heap. We made it with five minutes to spare...whew!

We decorated the live tree when we got home, going with a loose "Christmas Story" theme. A friend gave me some old-fashioned big bulb Christmas lights, so my husband festooned them around the tree while I buried the branches in ornaments. It looks quite lovely when lit, but hubby is paranoid about the heat that the large light bulbs generate, so he won't let me leave them on when we're not in the room.

Next, I put up my beloved silver tree on Monday morning. I grew up in the tacky metal tree/color wheel 1960s, and I still have a soft spot in my heart for those shiny silver branches. Since the theme in my family room is Rankin/Bass, it fits in pefectly. There are two color wheels attached to the base and one balanced on a box to infuse the branches with a continuous cycle of blue, red, green, and orange. Technically, the tree is a new version that isn't made of metal, so I could safely use string lights. But I just can't do that...it wouldn't be properly authentic. However, in a nod to modern technology, I bought a small silver fiber optic tree for the foyer.

I added a few other holiday touches throughout the house, but by Monday night the house was still in chaos. Now it's Tuesday night, and I'm still surrounded by half-empty ornament boxes and random strings of garland; my decor is almost done, but not quite. I thought it would be done today, but then someone notified me that Christmas decorations were 60 percent off at Joanne Fabrics, so I stopped there this afternoon. Just what I needed...more holiday decor!

Hopefully Duloc Manor will be back to some semblence of normalcy by tomorrow...or at least as normal as possible in the hectic holiday season.

Click here for my Holiday Survival Guide and a guide to Keeping New Years Resolutions on my business website.

Learn more about Celebration on my website: www.celebrationinfo.com

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