After a Fashion
Black Fridays are holiday hell in a handbasket! What's next – Chihuahuas in the manger?
THE BLACK PLAGUE
This Black Friday business is insanity. Physical and verbal abuse, guns, knives, Tasers, and other weapons, all in the spirit of Christmas! Children are trampled, the elderly are crushed, and the handicapped are overrun. Injuries, death, and damage abound, and yet irresponsible stores promote this practice annually. And it's rarely well-dressed, tasteful people who run amok at these ungodly events. You rarely see the red sole of a Christian Louboutin shoe as a customer is kicked in the gut so someone can get to the $2 waffle irons, but you'll probably see lots of Crocs flying around as merchandise is hoarded and battle lines are drawn. Rotund women who should never wear stretch fabrics go hand-to-hand with grandpas in trucker caps and camo over $3 blenders. But bless their little hearts, since they are doing good – they're supporting the Chinese economy in grand style. As an alternative, consider foregoing purchasing gifts at all and making a donation, no matter how small, to the charity of your choice in the name of the gift recipient. You'll have your own, but some of my favorites are Hospice Austin (www.hospiceaustin.org), AIDS Services of Austin (www.asaustin.org), the Center for Child Protection (www.centerforchildprotection.org), American YouthWorks (www.americanyouthworks.org), the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians (www.myhaam.org), the SIMS Foundation (www.simsfoundation.org), and the Austin Humane Society (www.austinhumanesociety.org). Give generously. We are the lucky ones.
I swore I'd use Thanksgiving weekend to decorate the front yard for the holidays. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday went by, and I was feeling too ill. By Saturday night, the house across the street was blazing with thousands of colored lights and scenes, and I was bitterly envious. Sunday morning was waaay too cold for working, but by afternoon, I'd gathered what strength I had and started hauling out all the regalia from the garage – 13 trees in various shapes and sizes and 10 white reindeer to create a sparkling forest in the yard. It was arduous, and I could only work in fits and starts without having to rest, but by darkness, with the help of my mother and sister, we'd placed all the trees around the yard, ready to be decorated on Monday. It was a simple design, scaled far back from what I'd imagined doing. Of course, I'd dearly wanted to create a Christmas pageant starring our Chihuahuas as the holy family – a struggling Baby Hoodie wrapped in his swaddling clothes in the manger with a beatific Miss Caswell on one side and Tavish on the other as the proud papa (McCoy will play a sheep in the distance). If we'd let my mother, St. Francis of Manchaca, keep all the rescue animals she collects, we'd have a heavenly panorama of dogs, cats, birds, goats, and squirrels to arrange in a spectacular holiday display. But being neither zookeepers nor circus trainers, we settled on artificial trees and reindeer instead. A little mangy-looking during the day, the magic happens at night when the cords and strings disappear and the hundreds of lights (low-energy LED, of course) sparkle with an unearthly glow that delights the spirit. And I can tell you that having a delighted spirit is low on my list right now, so it was kind of thrilling to have something as simple as holiday decorations take my mind off my current problems ... and to remind me every time I see them that joy is something we can make for ourselves.