As the taste of grilled hamburger and homemade ice cream disappeared from my mouth, and the brilliant glow of fireworks vanished from the sky, my mind automatically shifted into a different mode. On the evening of the 4th of July, for some reason unbeknownst to me, I began to focus on the upcoming Christmas season. Maybe it’s because I tend to realize, around Independence Day, that we are now closer to Christmas future than we are to Christmas past. That’s not to say I hadn’t given the glorious holiday some thought beforehand, or I wouldn’t have already purchased a loved one’s present last month while vacationing in Palm Springs. I sure hope the recipient fancies the gift since Palm Springs would be a long ways to travel (from Iowa) just to return the item.
Apparently, I wasn’t the only one thinking about Christmas this early because the city of Glendale, our neighbor to the east, held their annual “Christmas in July” event this past weekend, and my lovely wife agreed to accompany me to the afternoon affair. We had not participated for the past several years, so I figured we (at least I) should do it up right. I scoured our walk-in closet for the day’s proper attire. I proudly put on my seasonal, although currently out of season, t-shirt featuring the famous flagpole scene from the timeless movie, A Christmas Story. The shirt’s caption reads “I Triple Dog-Dare You!” in reference to the young characters’ disagreement over whether or not a person’s tongue would stick to a frozen flagpole. SPOILER ALERT…it does.
I waited until we got into the car before boldly asking the missus if we could listen to Christmas music on the way to Glendale, and much to my surprise she granted me permission. You think you know someone after 28 years of marriage, but that was not the response I was expecting, so I had to go back inside the house to grab some Christmas music. I settled on one of my many homemade compact discs, Jimmy Mac’s Favorite Tunes Of The Season (Vol.4), and off we went. We made one quick stop, at our local Wal-Mart, to choose a Redbox movie rental for later that evening. I received several strange looks, from numerous people walking by, assumingly because I was wearing a seasonably unfashionable t-shirt out in public.
I was glad to be leaving Peoria, and I was very appreciative of my wife, for honoring my previous request, as the joyous sounds of Amy Grant, John Denver, and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra resonated from the car’s speakers. I’m fully aware the missus was just “humoring me” at first, but by the time we arrived at our destination she was be-bopping to the holiday music as well. Even more shocking was her suggestion of having Stouffer’s Lasagna (our traditional Christmas Eve meal) later for dinner. My wife is certainly no Scrooge, but she doesn’t adore Christmas nearly as much as I do (no one does), so I was pleasantly surprised at the lengths she was going to on this special day. It appeared as though the entire day was going to be like Christmas in July.
Our first stop, after reaching Glendale’s Historic District, was to the city’s visitor’s center. I couldn’t help but smile after spying the giant, practically naked inflatable Santa just outside the building’s main entrance. Mr. Claus was relaxing in a hammock, attached to a couple of palm trees, and sipping on a foofoo drink complete with a tiny umbrella. We were given a map of the area and a mysterious grab-bag gift: a small notebook and pen decorated with snowflakes and a Christmas tree. My wife and I walked hand in hand, from shop to shop, gazing at the numerous lawn displays along the way. We sampled Christmas cookies and candy canes, and I bought a small scoop of Peppermint Candy ice cream at an old-fashioned ice cream parlor.
Most of the businesses, throughout the picturesque neighborhood, were playing Christmas music. Many of the owners, and shoppers alike, were adorned in holiday apparel. The people of Peoria might not have appreciated my cheery shirt, but in downtown Glendale I was fitting right in. Santa Claus was hanging out at one of the quaint shops. All of the visiting children were having their pictures taken with him, but the jolly old elf did take the time to wish the missus and I a Merry Christmas. He possibly may have been the real Santa since I’m somewhat of an expert at detecting the fake ones; however, with this particular Kris Kringle I just couldn’t be certain one way or the other.
During our festive outing we noticed two teenage boys having a snowball fight across the street. Obviously, the snow before us was manmade, but it was a nice gesture by the city, in keeping with the holiday spirit, nonetheless. The only thing missing was a winter nip in the air, but that was hardly possible with the day’s triple digit temperatures. We ended our time in Glendale’s Historic District with a free ride on Ollie the Trolley. I felt as though I was in an episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood as the trolley puttered around town. Of course, I knew we really weren’t heading to the Neighborhood of Make-Believe to visit King Friday.
When we got home my wife was willing to listen to even more Christmas music (bless her heart), but I decided it was time to retire the sounds of the season for now. I had already broken my “no Christmas music before November 1st” rule, so I figured I should quit while I was ahead. My other strict holiday rule is “no Christmas music after December 25th.” My wife doesn’t care for that one. She’s not a “cold turkey” type of person like I am; she prefers to wean herself off the stuff, like an optimistic junkie, although she’s pretty successful. Anyway, we still had our Stouffer’s lasagna to eat and our Redbox movie to watch. Our Christmas in July came to a close that evening as we sipped on homemade eggnog while watching A Merry Friggin’ Christmas.
Many people complain that Christmas seems to come a little earlier each and every year, and I imagine most of them finish their tirades with a “Bah! Humbug!” However, apparently they’re correct because last year I wrote a blog (“It’s Coming!”) about Christmas, during early September, but this year I’m writing about the holiday, and it’s only July. It’s no secret I love everything about Christmas: the decorations, the lights, the presents (giving and receiving), the music, the movies, Santa Claus, and most-importantly celebrating the birth of Jesus. Try as you may to avoid, ignore, or deny the coming of Christmas, but it’s just no use. Brace yourselves people. It’s coming…again!