Moods shift at Christmas. So much expectation (both good and bad) hangs in the air Houston's humidity seems tame in comparison.
So on Friday night, I was determined to lift the spirit of a hard-working-rarely-playing-serious-student-who-is-over-50 friend of mine. We put the right mix of people in my car, put the top down on what I'm now seeing as my personal Christmas sleigh, donned amazingly tacky head gear (from an Elmer Fudd Seasons Greetings fake fur number to one girl's phallic symbol candy cane with attached misletoe to reindeer antlers) and stocked up on wrapped peppermint sticks. We then proceeded to some of the more festive areas of town and distributed the candy to anyone brave enough to accept it. We found the inline skaters who were out in mass in one neighborhood willing recipients!
My buddy deemed the night a smashing success and seemed restored enough to return to his retail-at-Christmas-omigod existence for the next week.
Yesterday my mission centered on showing a new Brit friend a proper Houston experience. We made our way by the Rothko chapel and found an appropriate balance of appreciation for both the contemplative space and the sheer audacity of covering humungous canvases with one color and deeming it art. Next we traveled to a nearby outdoor labyrinth for her first ever experience with this meditation device.
Did I mention it was raining?
When we got there the puddles were confined to the far outer circle. The drops were intermitent and seemed to be dissipating. I asked if she really wanted to risk the dampness and she was adamant that she was in.
Oh silly us.
By the time we finished, water was rushing down the bridge of her nose. She had nothing dry on her body. The rain had increased. We truly "walked on water" as we made our way through what was now a labyrinth puddle. And it was glorious!
Cranking up the heat and driving quickly but carefully back to my place we threw everything in the dryer and let hot showers and hot tea warm us. Lots of good conversation later we were once again toasty and ready for the evening.
Since my new friend is an actress I had wanted to introduce her to the theater scene in my adopted city but alas Monday night the lights are out on our venues. EXCEPT . . .
Houston's oldest dinner theater burned down last week and a group of former performers from there decided to make their Christmas cabaret act into a charity benefit for the waitstaff and performers who are now without work over the holidays. The Hobby Center even opened up (with FREE parking so you KNOW it was a charity experience) so that they could have a proper stage. So we had a nice meal made better by a really great waiter and sped downtown for the performance.
Having just told my buddy about my lack of enthusiasm for musical theater, she confessed that she had to smile when the entire show was a Broadway revue. I found that if I closed my eyes and tried not to concentrate on the forced smiles and canned choreography, it was a not too unpleasant experience. 'Cause you know . . .
"We need a little Christmas, right this very minute. We need a little Christmas now!" (and if you've seen as many Christmas variety shows as I've seen you can choose to pretend you just heard Donnie and Marie sing that or Andy Williams)
The night turned more pleasant than the day and we once again put the top down, tried to find the usual lights of Christmas downtown (what's up Macy's? you couldn't find Foley's massive light displays after you bought out the Houston mainstay????) and then determined that we needed to return to the blessed to bless neighborhood with themed streets.
And once again we found ourselves face to face with Gloria. She's the 59 year old woman who spends 32 days covering everything she can find with multi-color lights -- including a non-functioning cadillac which gets 4200 bulbs alone! She sits in her driveway with her neighbors who appeared to enjoy another reason to imbibe and greets the cars that drive by. Music blares from unseen speakers and she regales the crowd with stories of how she does what she does. After we made a small donation to her electric bill she even gave us a couple of photos so that my buddy would have something to verify the experience with.
A bit of wassail later at a friend's and I felt I'd done my elfing duty for the day.
Hope you and yours are having an equally exciting Christmas season!