Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Christmas in November

      What do you do on a rainy Tuesday in November? Go see "A Christmas Carol" in 3D! Nothing like the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future to jump-start your holiday spirit. I admit we may be a little quick on the draw, especially since Thanksgiving is still two weeks away, but you're talking to the gal who finished her Christmas shopping last January at the post-holiday sales and has nothing left to do but make the fruitcake.
    There were only six of us taking in the 12:15 matinee, and it felt like we were at our own private viewing. We certainly didn't have to worry about getting a good seat or putting up with people yakking on their cell phones. We also didn't have to worry about how goofy we looked in those silly 3-D glasses since the three twosomes sat in opposite sections of the theater. The animation was fantastic-- we jumped and ducked at all the special effects, and by the end of the show, Sissey and I were shivering from the falling snow that seemed to drift through the cinema as Tiny Tim chirped "God Bless us, Everyone!"
     Afterward, we went across the street to Target and just walked up and down the Holiday Aisles, There were wreaths on the shelves and stockings hung by fake fires. Christmas trees, sparkling and glittering with lights and ornaments, twinkled in every corner.  Bags and boxes of candy and cocoa lined the aisles, Christmas music played from the speakers, animated reindeer and snowmen winked and blinked at us. It was a winter wonderland and we were basking in a holiday glow, only it was still November.
      Sissey  loved all the festive packaging and brightly colored displays of gifts and goodies. She "oohed" and "ahhed" up and down each row, pointing out ones she particularly liked. We were in the video section when she spied the creatively-wrapped, complete series of the "I Love Lucy"  TV show, one of her favorites. The DVD's were cleverly packaged in a heart-shaped candy box, with a picture of Lucy in her Vetameatavegamin girl role plastered across the front. It retailed for $149.99. Just three weeks ago, I had finally caved in to Sissey's pleas to order the "Lucy" set online, especially since she now had a TV/DVD combo in her room and we had just finished a lecture on the importance of rewarding oneself after reaching a goal. She had just gotten back two papers and a project, A's on all, and reminded me that it was a good time for a reward!
      For those of you who don't know me, I am the original tight-wad, a second-cousin to Ebenezeer Scrooge. I can make a nickle last longer than a dime and am a consumate and professional bargain hunter. Nothing thrills me more than finding a deal on something, even if I know they just "marked up" the price in order to "mark it down". I'll fall for it everytime: if there's a red line or red tag, I'm going to snatch that "steal" up as fast as I can. I can't help myself, it's my thrifty Scottish heritage. So of course,when it came time to break down and buy the DVD's,  I did a little internet surfing and comparison shopping, and Voila! found the complete set, brand-new, for $89.99. I  immediately ordered them and gave myself a little secret pat on the back for the $60 I had just saved.
     The DVD's arrived last week --from China! They were in a black and white box, with a xeroxed picture of Lucy tucked between the plastic lining of the cover. None of the DVD's were labeled with episode titles or scenes, just hand-numbered 1-43 in black ink.  The return instructions were written in Chinese.  I am not fluent in Chinese. We were screwed.
      I tried to market them to Sissey as best I could, telling her it did not matter how the DVD's were packaged or labeled (or rather not packaged and not labeled), the important thing was that they did actually play on our American DVD player. We had made that mistake before, ordering "Oliver Twist" from England, only to discover English and American DVD players are configured differently, and the DVD's are not interchangeable.
     "But Mom, how I am going to know which episode is on which disc? Nothing is labeled."
     "It doesn't matter," I responded. "The content is all there. You're eventually going to watch them all anyway, so just start with the first one. You can label them as you go through them."
     She was not impressed with my purchase, but there wasn't much we could about it at that point.
     And now, full of the Christmas spirit, merrily strolling along the festively decorated aisles, she spied the exact set of "Lucy" DVD's she'd had her heart set on. In a heart-shaped box to boot!   She pointed them out to me wistfully.
     "Honey, you are a marketing executive's dream customer," I told her. "Just wrap it up pretty and you're sold! That set is no different from the one at home, it's just packaged a little better. Your DVD's are like Tiny Tim....a little defective on the outside, but really, really good on the inside."
      She didn't exactly buy that argument either. It was a little hard to convince her in the midst of a marketing mecca that packaging didn't really matter, but when you got right down to it, it didn't. If she had gotten that pretty heart-shaped box and it had been empty inside, void of all the DVD's, it would  just have been a worthless box. She may have not liked the packaging of her DVD set, it may have been a little difficult to figure out which episode was which, but the content was there, and it was what was inside the package that mattered.
     So we continued down the aisle, leaving the box on the shelf, leaving the store without making any purchases, heading home in the first bands of rain from Hurricane Ida, saying "Bah-humbug" to the nasty weather, praying that God would bless us, everyone.

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