The Year I Was the Easter Bunny

rubies-easter-bunny-costumeI should have known better after the Santa Claus debacle, but apparently I hadn’t learned a thing because less than four months later there I was in an Easter Bunny costume. I have absolutely no idea how they talked me into it, honestly. All I know is that one day my boss was hinting around about having something special planned for Easter, and the next he was showing me this giant head. And boy was it heavy!

Just to get you back up to speed, I was working for the Philadelphia Vision Center during my senior year of high school handing out flyers in the outlying neighborhoods in the general vicinity of the Vision Center in Southwest Philadelphia. In addition to handing out those flyers, they had co-opted me into being Santa Claus for the previous holiday season, a thankless job with a beard that itched more often than not. So, there I was looking at a giant head that probably weighed more than a bowling ball, and I was honestly considering it.

For starters, they were going to pay me more for it, to the tune of a couple more bucks per hour, and I wouldn’t have to deliver flyers for two whole days. You see, there was some type of bazaar in a local school gym where all manner of businesses were invited and given tables to advertize. It was engineered as this amazing revitalization of the community and local business, although the local aspect of each business was debatable. It was for two days, the Thursday and the Friday before Easter, and the Vision Center had been invited.

Thinking back on it, I think the only reason we were invited was because of that Santa thing I mentioned earlier. My best bet was that the community action folk decided we would be the most probable to have an Easter Bunny costume. Go figure. And of course the getup required someone relatively tall to fit into it. Enter me. The dunce. Continue reading “The Year I Was the Easter Bunny”

White-Out Christmas

snowfall_1My first Christmas here it snowed puppies and kittens. Now, I’m a Philly boy born and raised, so a little snow never bothers me. I grew up around snow plows and getting snowed in (on occasion), so I thought I was prepared for a true, honest-to-goodness upstate New York winter. I was not. And Christmas was the perfect time to discover that for the first time.

The blizzard of 2002 started rather inauspiciously, with a few snow flurries on Christmas Eve, but by the time we rolled out of bed on the special morning and shuffled to the large picture window in our fuzzy robes and slippers our mouths were agape at the winter wonderland that awaited us. And we both thought at the same time, “shovels.” Then the shifts began, the great Christmas dig-out.

She had the first shift, bundling up against the cold, grabbing the nearest shovel and getting to work while I made hot chocolate for both of us in our tiny kitchen. I couldn’t help thinking about the insane juxtaposition of spending Christmas in Tennessee in 2001 when it was a balmy 50 degrees with nary a snowflake in the sky. What a difference a year (and a couple thousand miles) makes.

Then it was my turn, and I took the same shovel she used, feeling a kinship with her as I grabbed its handle. Either that or it was just damn cold. As I headed out into the abyss that was our yard, I knew I would be out there for a while. And it kept snowing the whole time. That was the craziest part of it. We were just trying to keep status quo in the midst of so much of the white, fluffy stuff.

It was my job to dig out the cars. Snow had come up almost to the windows while the storm had raged on Christmas Eve, and the position of our driveway at the time was down near the road. I had to shovel through what seemed like miles of yard just to get to the vehicles, and my arms were exhausted from the effort. Then it took a Herculean effort to shovel around the car wheels, creating an island of car in the sea of snow. Then I dug out the second one. Continue reading “White-Out Christmas”

That Christmas Spirit

Christmas-Stars-9You either get it or you don’t. And no, I’m not talking about presents. I’m talking about that old-fashioned Christmas spirit, the kind you probably had as a child but that has waned for so many people since. There’s something about that magic associated with it when you’re little. The elves, and the Christmas wish list, marked down and checked twice, then decided upon by a jolly elf who lives on land in a landless area of the globe. You know, somewhere up north.

Then, whether or not you have a chimney, he somehow arrives in your living room when everyone (and I mean everyone) is fast asleep so no one can witness him. But he drinks the milk you left, and he eats the cookies, always leaving a few little crumbs to enhance the idea that HE was here, that HE granted you an audience even though you were asleep, that HE felt you were worthy enough to get the presents you wanted most in the world.

As I sit here drinking coffee on the morning of December 22nd, I wonder where that Christmas spirit went. And I’m not just talking about the magical nature of the holiday for little kids who get presents they don’t need. I’m talking about the spirit of the holidays that goes even farther back and is more intense than that. I’m talking about that day long ago that inspired the feeling of Christmas in the first place, and that also gave the holiday its name. Now, I’m no Linus (Charlie Brown reference, people. Stick with me), so I’m not going to give you the whole spiel about Jesus being reborn as a human in a manger in Bethlehem in order to save us from our sins. Oops, I guess I just did. But what I’m going to do instead is to talk about the spirit that comes along with remembering the original Christmas story, instead of focusing on a jolly elf in a red suit who can talk to reindeer.

I spoke with a woman once who had a tale to tell. It was about a family who had nothing, a good family, an honest family, a hardworking family who for some reason or another could just barely make ends meet, and so had nothing left over for presents on Christmas day. They had three children and lived in a seedy part of town, but they had love, they had fellowship, and they had an appreciation for Jesus Christ. They knew the real reason for the season, but they felt awful that their children weren’t getting the experience that others were, that they couldn’t provide just a little of that magic for their kids.

Well, late on Christmas Eve, a vehicle pulled to a stop outside their front door. Continue reading “That Christmas Spirit”

Sam’s Weekly Water Cooler Musings: On Holidays, Cards, and Being Left Out

Holidays have a much bigger role in our society than they used to, at least that’s what we decided in our latest chat session near the water cooler. You can tell this primarily through the build-up to them, or at least to the major ones. Time was when no one thought about Christmas until after … Continue reading Sam’s Weekly Water Cooler Musings: On Holidays, Cards, and Being Left Out