Today I was a cliche. With three days until Christmas Eve, I had no choice.
What that means is that after a bracing walk this morning down to Great Shiplock Park, through an almost entirely deserted downtown, I hunkered down to do Christmas baking.
Five hours of it.
Fortunately for me, I was joined by a favorite couple who assisted me with the mixing, baking, icing and decorating of cookies, set to vintage Christmas music spanning 1959 ("Christmas with Conniff") to 2002 ("Maybe This Christmas"). The festive meter was set to 11.
Biggest surprise? The firefighter in the group was a master cookie decorator. His Christmas tree cookies had snow-laden branches, his snowmen had scarves and belts. It was truly artistic work.
Mine, not so much.
Fourteen dozen cookies later, I couldn't wait to escape the oven and leave the house. Unfortunately for me on a Saturday night, duty called so I wasn't leaving to have fun. It was all about the consumerism.
In case you didn't know, I lack several key feminine qualities and one of them is a love of shopping...except for food and books.
Nevertheless, and putting on my cheeriest holiday face, I headed to Carytown to gather ye presents while ye may. I had no choice.
My first stop was Old World Christmas to choose an ornament amongst a crowd of focused-looking shoppers. Things began to look up when I arrived at the counter because behind it was a favorite actor playing a sales clerk.
After paying and his reference to my blog (you never know who reads you), I said goodbye and he asked incredulously, "Did you walk over from Jackson Ward?" Apparently my walking reputation precedes me.
I stopped in Ten Thousand Villages and bought myself a new wallet, not an intended purchase but one long overdue if you saw the state of my current one. You'd think they'd last longer considering how rarely they hold any actual money.
Mongrel was a zoo, but where else can you find such great cards and wrapping paper? As I browsed and tried to stay out of the madding crowd's way, suddenly the sound of glass shattering stopped everyone cold. After a moment's silence, the hustle and bustle returned as everyone went back to the business of spending.
Coming out of Mongrel, I heard my name called and turned to see two wine rep friends also exiting the madhouse. We chatted about the folly of last minute shopping, agreeing that experiences and time were the best gifts (I'd also add to that list words because I like nothing better than for someone to write to me for a present).
"It's better now because we're going to Don't Look Back," she said, practically beaming. Yes, I agreed enthusiastically, tequila and chicken skin tacos do make everything better.
After a stop at Plan 9, I had finished as much shopping as I was going to do tonight. Back on the sidewalk, I ran into another friend, this one a server and wine goddess with an ear for Italian and a beautiful baby in her arms. I hadn't seen her since before she'd had the wee one, so we exchanged holiday pleasantries before going our separate ways.
My consumer duties finally over, I considered stopping for a cup of Can Can's indulgent hot chocolate but a glance through the window at the boring-looking crowd at the bar told me that I didn't really want to deal with that. Even for a bowl of chocolate
Clearly I'm not cut out to be Suzy Homemaker or Sherry Shopper. Happily, after my hard work today, that's all behind me. Now it's time to enjoy Christmas time in the city.