The holidays have been fun for me, so far! I've been busy, but it's been a good kind of busy, unlike last year when I was concerned about finishing up school work and studying for finals. This year's festive season has been far less stressful, and due to some really wonderful surprises, far more joyful.
It all started with Thanksgiving. I didn't have any plans at first, since my child was going to be spending the day with her father's family. So I started looking for a place here in my neck of the woods where I could maybe serve people - a soup kitchen, or a homeless shelter. But when I mentioned this to my mom, she told me that while serving soup would be an admirable way to spend the holiday, she just couldn't allow her only daughter to spend the day without family. So she requested my presence at her abode.
Needless to say, I spent Thanksgiving at my mom's. It was fun, and the food was fabulous. Mom did the turkey, gravy, dressing and bread, and I cooked the sweet potato casserole, the green bean casserole and the fried cauliflower. My brother Erick made an appearance early in the day before heading to our dad's house, but he didn't stay to eat. The only people eating that feast of fabulousness were Mom and I! But I piled my plate high, and took home leftovers, for which my daughter was very thankful. She and I both know there's nothing quite as good as a post-Thanksgiving turkey sandwich.
The Tuesday after Thanksgiving was our Christmas Open House at the club, which is one of the biggest events of the year because it involves free food and drinks for our members. It's an adults only free for all! My main task is to greet people at the door, handle door prizes, and to mix and mingle. My bosses - Cliff and several of the Davison clan - have requested I sing next year, so that will be an added responsibility in 2010. But this year it was a fairly simple deal.
The biggest and most headache-producing event I've endured this season has been our Breakfast with Santa. It involves 120 guests including 75 children, pictures for all the kids, crafts, letters for Santa and a buffet breakfast. I also added a cupcake decorating table, which the kids seemed to really enjoy.
Aside from the general madness of the morning, my only real challenge was working with our Santa. I hired a man, sight unseen, who was referred to me by the largest bank in town. He owns his own red suit, and has apparently played the role at the bank and several other places for years... I'm guessing now at least 107 years.
He was very sweet, but moved at a snail's pace and was hard of hearing. Our photographer, Allison, would say things like, "Santa, can I get you to move a little to the left?" Santa would not move. He wasn't being difficult; he just couldn't hear her. He also couldn't hear the kids when they sat in his lap and told him what they wanted for Christmas. There was no two-way communication between Santa and the kids. Just a lot of nodding.
Bless his heart.
I think he's sort of lost a bit of the enthusiasm associated with the job, too. At one point while kids were still in line and watching, he leaned over the side of his chair and grabbed his water glass, pulled his beard down off his face, and took a pull on the straw. One little girl (4 years old) became very distraught when she saw this. Her father said she cried all the way home because "Santa isn't real!!!" Ugh.
The Jolly Old Elf also lost a bit of his jolliness when a 6 month old spit-up on his red pants. The child was terrified and screaming when put on the lap of the hairy man in red, causing the minor bodily fluid incident. Pictures stopped for about 5 minutes while Mr. Claus tried to wipe up the spittle. It was not a good situation. I wasn't sure who to feel sorry for - Santa, who was desperately trying to sop up spit, or the baby's mother, who was now wrenched with guilt over the child's natural reaction to the mixture of milk and fear.
After all the pictures were taken, the kids went down the hall to the Gathering Room for crafts and breakfast. Traditionally, we give Santa a 5 minute mini-break, then we lead him back into the Gathering Room for a few waves and "Ho Ho Ho's" before he leaves. When I told Mr. Claus and his wife about this final part of the job, Mrs. Claus, with wide, fearful eyes, began shaking her head.
"I think he's had enough. How many kids have we just seen?!"
Santa just looked at me with a blank expression. He hadn't heard a word I said.
I watched as Mr. and Mrs. Claus inched their way back down the hall and out the front door. I was wishing at that moment that Dasher, Dancer, Prancer and Vixen and the guys were there to help the old guy back to his Oldsmobile. It had been a very rough morning for him.
But hopefully, none of the rest of his upcoming appearances will be as stressful and spit provoking as ours was. And I also hope that he hires a few extra elves to take up the slack of gift delivering this year.
It's downhill for me now! I have vacation time from Christmas Eve to the first week in January. May the season be merry and bright for all of you!