Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Christmas Grab Bag

December has arrived. It’s the Christmas Season for real now. So I thought I’d share a few of my random thoughts about the holiday season.

First, though, I need to wrap-up one of my pre-holiday activities: The Great Weight Loss Contest of 2007, which concluded before Thanksgiving. Seventeen of each threw $100 in the pot, with the Biggest Loser taking it all.

And, for the third time in a row, I finished just out of the money: first runner-up to my business partner, Kirk Luther. This time, I lost a total of 35 pounds in three months… but Kirk lost 37! Barry “Fatback” Walker came in third, losing 27 pounds, and the other 14 contestants seemed to lose an average of 15 or 20 pounds each. I say “seemed”, because we don’t know for sure: most of them didn’t bother to show up for the final weigh-in. But those who did had lost 20 pounds or so… not a bad weight-loss routine for only $100.

Since both Kirk and Rod have each gained about half of their weight back already, I’m pretty sure the other candidates -- Brian Jeffcoat, Danny Frazier, Jake Knotts, Stan Bowen, Gerald Head, Andy Gobeil, Scott Malyerck, Douglas Adam, Ricky Wingard, Terry Campbell, Jim Miles, Angileigh Wingard, Tim Kelley, and R.J. Shealy -- will have another chance during the Great Weight Loss Contest of 2008, which will most likely begin right after New Years.

Sigh. It was fun being thin for a week.

Okay. On to Rod-Boy’s Random Holiday Observations:

-- Christmas parades remind me of trains. Parades have Santa at the end, just like choo-choo trains have cabooses… both of which are everybody’s favorite part!

-- Holiday air travel is always the worst, because that’s when “amateurs” fly. Business travelers know in advance to take their shoes off while they’re waiting to go through the security check-point; holiday travelers invariably think THEY might be the one passenger allowed to make it through without taking of their shoes. So the line moves a lot slower.

-- I’m not a big fan of Egg Nog… just because of the name. In my opinion, beverages should not have the words “egg” or “nog” in their name. It scares me.

-- I AM a big fan of the Gamecocks… but I’m delighted the football team didn’t get a bowl bid. I stated my position on this several years ago: Places like Shreveport, Louisiana are not appropriate destinations for Holiday Bowls. (Similarly, items like the “Weedwhackers” were never appropriate sponsors for a bowl.) And 6-6 is not an appropriate record for a reward. However, I’m still a Gamecock Fan, and I believe in Steve. He WILL have us playing on New Years Day soon.

-- I believe smoking cigarettes in America is declining due to the use of cell phones. (I’m not sure why this is a holiday thought; maybe because I see so many TV ads pushing cell phones as a Christmas gift idea.) My theory is simple: For years, cigarettes have been addictive. People smoked ‘em to make themselves look “cool”. And, of course, they gave the smoker something to do with their mouths and their hands. Now, however, cell phones are doing those exact same things. So people no longer have the need to smoke! (Or the opportunity, because you can’t smoke and talk on a cell phone at the same time!)

-- I’m betting that “Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la” is one of the best known lines of any Christmas Carol…. for that matter, probably of any song, period. (It’s because there are no words… only short syllables.) The Van Morrison song, Brown Eyed Girl, uses some of the same syllables. These are great songs to sing when you have a hard time remembering lyrics… like I do.

-- On Thursday, December 20th, this newspaper will have its annual Christmas Drop-In from 4:30pm til 7:30pm. You’re invited. (The location is at our office is at 7595 St. Andrews Road in Irmo.) If you don’t get another invitation…. This is it!

-- As a special treat for you this year, I’m offering you a few of my personal recommendations of events and activities you should make a point to include in your holiday schedules…

There are two special Christmas Light displays which are great entertainment for the whole family. Riverbanks Zoo is presenting the 20th Anniversary of its “Light Before Christmas” display through Dec. 30 (Go to www.riverbanks.org for info); and Saluda Shoals Park is presenting “Holiday Lights on the River” until Dec. 31 (call 772-1228 for info). Together, these two displays combine for Eleventy-seven Gazillion brightly twinkling Christmas lights.

Two local churches present well known Christmas pageants. Union United Methodist Church in Irmo presents its annual drive-through Living Christmas Story from Dec. 6th - Dec. 9th (call 781-3013). Lake Murray Baptist Church presents its much-heralded “This Man Called Jesus” each weekend through Dec. 16th (call 957-1435 for info).

If you enjoy Christmas musical shows, I can recommend two: The Palmetto Mastersingers’ Christmas Show will be Thursday, Dec. 6 at 7:30pm at the Koger Center for the Arts; and a 31-year tradition continues as “The Elf Show” is presented by Christy’s School of Dance and Tumblebus on Saturday, Dec. 8th at 8pm at the Batesburg-Leesville Fine Arts Center (Call 364-1139 for info.)

On Dec. 8th and 9th, the Historic Lorick Plantation House steps back in time to Christmas season circa 1840 for the Annual Holiday Open House, presented by Capital City/Lake Murray Visitors Center. (Call 781-5940 for info.)

Village Square Theater in Lexington is presenting O. Henry’s “The Gift of the Magi” one-act play weekends until December 9th. (Call 359-1346) And while you’re in Lexington, the Holiday House at Harmon’s Tree Farm is always a great holiday treat.

And finally… I hope you’ll all drop by our newest Christmas Tradition – Gatsbees Worlds Fair Soda Fountain – for holiday desserts after your favorite holiday events. And bring your out of town guests to visit our new tourist attraction. Gatsbees is open nightly til 9pm, located at 7585 St. Andrews Road in Irmo.

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