Remember the scene from A Christmas Story where Ralphie and his family have Christmas dinner at the Chinese restaurant? They have a very non-traditional Peking duck, and are treated to a rendition of “Deck the Harrs” by the owners. Do you remember why they ate at the Chinese restaurant? I know, the neighbors’ dogs broke in and destroyed the turkey and fixings. But that is just the reason why they ate out. Do you remember why they ate out at the Chinese place? Answer: it was the only place in town open.
Here is what got me thinking about that (and no, I have not yet sat down for an all day marathon). I was watching a preview for the new Sherlock Holmes movie, and while it looks pretty interesting, I was troubled by the fact that it is opening Christmas day. In A Christmas Story, one of the early classics that delights in groaning at the over-commercialization of the holiday, the family’s only option for Christmas dinner was the one restaurant in town whose owners didn’t celebrate the holidays. Nowadays, the entertainment industry capitalizes on the day. Movies open and restaurants are booked. And while it’s not my intent to rain on anyone’s heart-warming traditions, I can’t help feeling bad for all the poor folks spending the holidays away from their families.
Look, not everyone can stop working on Christmas. Police, dispatchers, deputies and COs are still needed to deal with the results of dysfunctional families who have spent a little too much time together. Ambulances and hospitals are needed to deal with the results of eggnog overindulgence. And firefighters still have to put out all the deep fried turkey fires. But why do the hostesses, bus-boys (or perhaps I should say bus-persons), waiters and waitresses, ticket takers and popcorn-sweeper-uppers, not to mention all the grocery store cashiers, baggers, and stockers have to work on Christmas? Answer: Because we keep going to the restaurants, the theaters, and the stores on the holidays.
When I was a kid in Southern California (down in the OC, as a matter of fact, though my life was fairly un-glamorous), we found that Christmas was a good day to go to Disneyland. Lines were relatively short and the weather was usually good enough to still handle a soaking off of Splash Mountain. But as I look back, I think of those folks who had to spend the day away from their families because of me and mine. So I’ve decided something. As long as I want Christmas off, I want to help others get it off, too. That means that I have to remove the incentives for business owners to open shop on Christmas day. If folks stop eating out, stop going to movie premiers, and prepare ahead of time so they don’t have to rush to the store, all of those places will stop being open on holidays. And then all of those folks can spend the day with those they love, too. Who’s with me?I don't know. Maybe I've got it all wrong. Maybe all these folks love working on Christmas. Maybe the tips are bigger. Maybe that's all that keeps the companies in the black. But who really wants to have their holidays so over-commercialized that they make the campiness in A Christmas Story look like a quaint Norman Rockwell cover?
Over the years I got to be quite a connoisseur of soap. My personal preference was for Lux, but I found Palmolive had a nice, piquant after-dinner flavor - heady, but with just a touch of mellow smoothness.