"What do you say to a big kiss?"
"Hello, big kiss."
--exchange between Jack Horner (Keanu Reeves) and Mary Contrary (Jill Schoelen, who wasn't able to turn her bad acting into as lucrative a career as Keanu, but did manage to date Brad Pitt) from the 1986 classic Babes in Toyland
I didn't celebrate Life Day or Festivus last December, because Christmas--again, like all the good holidays--is not really just a single day. It's more like a month. There are tons of non-Christians in the city, but Christmas stuff still seems to dominate. Here's me standing by the "holiday tree" outside Rockefeller Center.
I didn't really like it. I thought there was too much blue, and too many lights generally. It looked tacky to me, as does my shirt hanging out the bottom of my coat.
I did a lot of fun stuff with people in my ward in the days and weeks before Christmas. Here are some highlights:
A few of us went to NYU's Skirball Center to see a girl in the ward perform as the Sugarplum Fairy in the Joffrey Ballet School's production of Nutcracker. She was amazing. After, we wanted to go eat at Max Brenner (which I like to call by its more fun subtitle, Chocolate by the Bald Man), but it was too busy. I've since been back there four times, though, so you should definitely plan on reading about this fabulous chocolate restaurant in future blog posts. We ended up wandering to Grand Central Station, where we saw the Christmas light show they play every half hour. It was no laser Pink Floyd, but it was not bad, and a funny old man came and asked someone in our little group to dance with him. I can't remember who it was--it's in my head that it was Jen Nuckols, but I don't think she was with us that night. Oh well. Whoever it was, they put on a good show.
My last Sunday before coming home for Christmas was very memorable. We had a really good Christmas musical program in sacrament meeting (there are a ton of super-talented musicians and singers in my ward), including an unusual but enjoyable tuba-trombone duet of "O Come, O Come Emmanuel." Before church started, I was standing with some people in the lobby when Marcus walked in with his tuba bag strapped to his back.
"What does Marcus have on his back?" someone asked.
"I think it's his tuba," said Jessica Allred.
Quickly, in my best Schwarzenegger, I replied, "It's not a tuba."
I asked Jessica if she got the joke. She said she did. But she didn't think it was funny. I don't care; I think it's one of my best jokes ever, which is why I'm making a point to include it here.
After church ended that day, we had a hot chocolate munch-and-mingle linger-longer chat-and-get-fat or whatever you want to call it. I had a few conversations there that were very meaningful to me, where something clicked and I really felt like I had integrated into and been accepted by this ward. (I was enjoying myself and generally happy during my first month in New York, but I also felt really lonely most nights. Those feelings have been gone since this after-church social.) I'd go into more detail about these things, but I don't like to get sappy or serious on this blog. But I really love this ward that I'm in out here and am going to be sad when it's time to leave. I've become attached to every singles ward I've ever been in, but never as quickly as this one.
When the hot chocolate was gone, a bunch of us ended up on the same train home. Jen had her violin (it was definitely her this time), which she had played in sacrament meeting, and we put on an impromptu subway concert, singing Christmas hymns while she played. We thought about trying to collect money in the violin case, but decided that might be considered Sabbath-breaking.
As many of you know, the LDS lyrics for "Joy to the World" are slightly different than those used by the rest of Christendom. As we left the train, the Demos sisters told me that, while we sang that hymn, they heard two women behind them talking:
"They seem really nice."
"They use different words than I'm used to."
"I think they're Canadian."
It's not a tuba...eh?
The next night was our ward Christmas party/service auction/gingerbread house contest. I suggested that my table do a gingerbread roller coaster. But I'm really just an idea man, so I sat back while Aja and some others turned my vision into reality. It was pretty cool and deservedly won the best-gingerbread-structure award.
Rachel and I, still several weeks away from learning we're related, auctioned off very similar items. She put up an original song about the buyer, because she's very talented musically. I'm only good with words, though, so I could only offer a personalized song parody, which Corina bought. It's going to be a Beatles medley, I think. I'm working on it, in the same technical way that I'm working on my Apollo routine. Please be patient, Corina; you'll get your song before, let's say, next Christmas...
The highlight of the night was the one and only Ryan Simmons performing "Happy Holidays" in one of his trademark crazy suits. It was outstanding (I've heard that he got a $60 tip for that Stardust performance; if so he earned every penny).
Basically, my ward rocks. But Utah's pretty great too, and a few days later I packed up my cool spinning-face Santa Claus gumball pack (thanks, Secret Santa!) and flew home for a week. Next time I'll detail all the movies and TV I watched (including the beauty quoted at the beginning of the post) while I was home. Seriously, that's pretty much all I did, besides eat chocolate. Like I said, it was a pretty awesome Christmas.