Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Last White Christmas

Weekend Assignment #90: Share a treasured holiday memory. If it happened during the holiday season (which means, basically, from the the day after Thanksgiving to the end of the Bowl Games), it's eligible.

Extra credit:
Fruitcake: Ever, you know,
had any?

A treasured memory, huh? I guess I'd better skip right over 2002, then.

Sgt. Preston Saves Christmas

We actually made a holiday memory tonight, but I doubt it will ever really qualify as a "treasured" one. My company bought out the Gaslight Theatre to treat employees to Sgt Preston Saves Christmas, or Yukon Count on Me. The shtick with Gaslight is that it's hokey parody material, locally written, usually based on melodramas and the like. They've done "sci-fi," they've done Sherlock Holmes, the Fifties, Westerns, and on and on. Tonight's show was loosely based on an old radio and tv hero, Sgt. Preston of the Yukon, successor to Nelson Eddy and precursor to Dudley Do-right. Here he faces a Snidely Whiplash-type villain, gets his man (and the girl), reunites a father and daughter, and has a hand in getting the Christmas presents to those orphans. Along the way, the cast sings Walk Like a Man, Indian Love Call, A Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight, and anything else that seemed like a good idea at the time. It's not High Art, by any means, but it was fun, and definitely a rut-breaker. I'm pretty much always in favor of rut-breakers: any reasonably pleasant activity that shakes us from our usual routine is generally a Good Thing.

Gaslight Theatre - 29 years in Tucson

I would show you pictures from the production itself, but photography is prohibited "while the actors are on stage."

But let's leave the Gaslight behind now, and take our mental time machine back to 1987.

Yes, this was really in Tucson

I've written about that Christmas before, but not in any depth. I always meant to do it, but last year I got sidetracked by Holiday Trivia, St. Nicholas, modernism and holiday haiku, and never got around to it. So here's the story:

December, 1987 was our second Christmas in Tucson. Before that, we had lived in Columbus, Ohio for 7 years, and before that, I'd lived in metro Syracuse (Dewitt, Manlius and Syracuse itself) for 22 years. I'd seen plenty of winter, plenty of blizzards, plenty of lake effect snow. One memorable afternoon in December, 1975, I'd stood for an hour and a half outside my dad's office at University College, waiting for a long-overdue bus. I should have gone to find a pay phone, but I was afraid if I left the bus stop, the bus would come. So I stood in the blowing snow, and watched the MONY Plaza time & temp flash 11 degrees, 12 degrees, 11 degrees, 10 degrees, and back to 11 degrees.

You see, this is part of why we moved to Tucson, John and I. We were driving around the country in February and early March 1986, looking for a place where it wasn't winter. Tucson was the place that came through for us the best.

a light dusting on the desert

But by December, 1987, we'd been living in Tucson for 19 months, and I was starting to miss the snow - a little tiny bit. After all, almost everyone loves a White Christmas.

And that year, we got one.

the one and only White Christmas

It was the only White Christmas in Tucson since 1916. 2.6 inches of snow fell that day. (In 1916 they got 4 inches.) Our trees and cacti on Grannen Rd. filled up with ice and snow for just a few hours, burning off by afternoon. A few hours was enough. It was beautiful while it lasted, but after all, it was Tucson.

laying a finger aside of her nose

The timing was pretty much perfect. My mom and Aunt Flora were visiting from Florida, so snow was a rare treat for them as well. I dressed as Santa on Christmas Eve and stomped around on the roof, shaking my jingle bells. The next morning, we sat by a roaring fire and gazed out through picture windows on the temporary Winter Wonderland, while opening our Ultimate Christmas Stockings. Yeah, it was great.

It's been several years since I've seen snow in the city - or anywhere, really, except Mount Lemmon. This month, when I see clouds in the Tucson sky, and feel some actual nippy weather (several mornings the temperature has been in the 30s), I keep remembering that one White Christmas, and wonder whether I'll ever see a return engagement. That would be great!


P.S. Oh, yes, the fruitcake. I love fruitcake, if it's moist and fruity and dark, and if there's no evidence of it ever having had alcohol in it. Yes, I know it's supposed to be made with rum, and yes, I know the alcohol supposedly burns off. But I hate alcohol, okay? I'll explain one of these days, when I continue my series on tricks of the brain. (Stop yawning! It'll be good, really!) So I usually buy a cheap fruitcake from Walgreen's, of all places. Remember that gold tin I photographed earlier this year, with all the crystals in it? That's a fruitcake tin. - KFB

the one and only White Christmas


Carly said...

This is a great entry! And those photos are wonderful. Oh my how I wish it would snow here. Like Tucson, it does every few years or so, but it doesn't last long. :)

Becky said...

I love the "Santa Karen" photo!! I just have the hat and a red t-shirt with a faux black belt/large buckle across the middle and the slogan "Does this suit make me look fat?" emblazoned across the chest. I love the ultimate stocking idea. I'm just stumped about what I could fill them with. Maybe a trip to CVS. Lip balm...razors...candy...eye drops... heh.