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Christmastime is my favorite time of year!! I was a foster kid growing up, and it was always so fun to see how all the different families I stayed with celebrated holidays. My new family is Dunder Mifflin (I like that with this family, I dont have to change my last name again), and I would love to hear about your best holiday memories from the past, before I was a part of this great place. God bless us, every one!
No one brings our family more joy than 90-year-old Aunt Alma. She's funny, warm, and a great storyteller. She was around before the car, before the airplane, before plumbing reached all of America. And because of her age, she's not always around mentally - as sometimes happens in the autumn of life. A few Christmases ago, we were at my parents setting up for what we thought would be a run of the mill holiday - until Aunt Alma pulled in the driveway, crashing into my Uncle's brand new RAV4. Oblivious, she shuffled inside and exclaimed, "Happy Easter!" Not wanting to upset her, we hid the poinsettias and wreaths and put a sheet over the Christmas tree. We took the candy canes out of their baskets and replaced them with eggs from the fridge. We called the turkey a ham, and the mincemeat pie an Easter frittata. It all seemed to be working. And then Michael busted in wearing his Santa suit, holding a snow globe and a gingerbread house, and gave Alma a five-minute hug. Everyone stared in silence - not a creature stirred, not even a mouse. Luckily Alma started laughing hysterically. She was mad we didn't correct her. All in all, it ended up being one of the most memorable Halpert Christmases to date.
I'll never forget the winter of '93 when I was temporarily kicked out of Chi Psi for erroneous rohypnol charges (like I would ever want to roofie that guy). My father wouldn't let me come home to Montauk for Christmas, so I had to spend it in my dorm. To some, that may sound a little gloomy. But let me tell you the custodians at McFaddin Hall are some of the most kindly people you'll ever meet in your life. I was the only student left hanging around (except for Sparky Petersen, who was discovered dead in his room from a spider bite, may he rest). And although everyone was required to vacate by December 24th, the lead janitor Ronaldo was totally cool and let me stay. Ahmed, the maintenance technician, even brought over a space heater after the building's furnace was turned off. The three of us spent hours playing Texas Hold'em and a couple other card games I didn't quite understand. I lost a lot of money, but I had an awesome time talking with them about the Christmas traditions in their native countries, and relaying how holidays usually go at my house (an excess of brandy, a little singing, a lot of screaming). We all became everlasting friends that December. And if I can track them down, they'll both be in my wedding.
My favorite Christmas memory is actually a love story. A love story called "Love Actually." That year, my Christmas got off to a bad start - my parents got me a holiday Barbie. What grown woman wants a Barbie doll? I wanted a Bratz doll. Anyway, after a sucky Christmas morn, I went to the theater to see this "Love Actually." The movie totally moved me. I laughed, I danced, I sang, I cried. Hugh Grant was super charming. Keira Knightley was super beautiful. Nanny McPhee and all the other old British actors were so sophisticated and good. The movie had like 10 different love stories, which I can relate to, because I've had 10 different loves in my life (Ryan, both the Coreys, Brandon Walsh, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Prince William, Ashton Kutcher, Justin Timberlake, Ryan's brother, and Chris Pine). Going to see that movie made for the best Christmas memory, even better than my memories of seeing "While You Were Sleeping" a few Christmases earlier. It wasn't just a good movie; it was great, actually.
I don't have a lot of Christmas memories, I forgot most of them due to my age and the choices I made in the '60s (I chose to stand behind a Tijuana donkey and was kicked in the head), but one great memory I do have is from when I got a gig at the Steamtown Mall playing Santa Claus. They gave me new velvet clothes, the fanciest chair I've ever sat in, all the candy canes I could eat, a dog with antlers (no lie!), and a little house made of ginger bread to live in! This old soul has seen a lot, but nothing compares to the warmth you get from looking at a child's bright young innocent face. There wasn't an ounce of suspicion in their hearts - which made them very easy to pickpocket while they were on my lap. That year I swiped $18, a ton of gum, an iPod mini, and some marbles. To top off the season, one of the elves introduced me to rave culture. It was a far-out Christmas!
I got a ton of happy Christmas memories, and they all include my Sexy Miss Claus costume. And let me tell ya, I am so glad it's that time of year again. Just purchased some lipstick in Mistress Red and pulled out the old costume from the closet. I'll admit I wore it to the bar a few months ago - the halter part makes my rack look ridiculous. Better than my best push-up; I'm talkin' real boob-to-chin action here. And like I said, I have plenty of good memories in that thing, if you catch my drift... I bought it in the markdown section at Target, and I'd recommend every single gal purchase one for herself. Whenever I'm wearin' it, it's XXXmas time.
One holiday season, Mose and I were winterizing the barn - patching the roof, insulating, creating cozy beds for the animals with bits of hay and Angela's clothing. Night fell and the cold set in, and we received some unexpected guests - a young couple, asking to stay a night at my bed and breakfast. Unfortunately, I had to turn them away as there was no vacancy that evening. The Schrute Farms B&B holiday brunch provides some of the most melt-in-your-mouth venison and a brown mustard streusel like you've never tasted before, and we had been booked up for months. However I watched them sulk away like a couple of pathetic losers, and I don't know... it must have been the Christmas spirit, and how the wife was pregnant and all, that I offered them up a space in the barn next to the Clydesdale. They spit in my face and drove down to the Econo Lodge, unthankful jerks. But that gave me an idea: convert the additional space in the barn into extra quarters. It's not for the fanciest guest, but it's cheap and mostly safe. And it puts more green dollars into my pocket and red smile on my face. Merry Christmas to me.
I had a meaningful convo with a wise dude at the Genius Bar the other day, and something he said really struck me: "It's not about the memories, it's about the future." It got me thinking, especially with it being Christmastime and all. It's not about cool gadgets, or holiday raves with your buddies, or mistletoe belts... The best holiday memories are those spent clothing the poor, recycling, and reading to latchkey kids. At least that's what I hear. And I'd like to get in on that action. I'm opening up a portrait gallery at Lackawanna Community College featuring all my best photography work. It will be completely free to the public (however you are strongly urged to purchase something). Letting people lose themselves in the depth of the art is the best giving back I can do. I know it would probably be easier to just volunteer at a soup kitchen, but food can't fill you up as much as art. This is a gift that could change people's view of the world; maybe for a night, maybe forever...
Every year my parish has a Nativity Scene competition, in which its members compete to see who has the best manger on their front lawn. In many past years I had no success. One year I tried to have all my cats play the parts. It was a disaster I never saw Sassy Cat again (if you've seen a cat dressed as a wise man, please contact me). The year before I made the manger completely out of beets and scarecrows (an idea some idiot gave me). Last year I decided to think outside the box. Last year I decided to throw everything I had into my manger. So, I saved up and bought a beautiful nativity scene at the Lowe's store in Dickson City. I placed it on my lawn and lit it up with spotlights (the only thing better than a baby Jesus doll is a glowing baby Jesus doll). It looked wonderful! The judges thought so too they awarded me first prize! I won! It was a truly blessed event. I was so proud of my work and my lovely manger that I kept it up in my living room all year.
I think my favorite Christmas memory is from a few years back when I went caroling with the office. It was my first Christmas at Dunder Mifflin and I wanted to make friends, so I signed up with the party planning committee to go caroling. At the time I was engaged to this guy from the warehouse, Roy, so I signed him up too. Well, caroling wasn't exactly Roy's thing, so he bailed halfway through to hang out with his warehouse buddies, but I stayed. I felt kinda alone, but sang next to Jim. We're both sort of bad singers (but I'm much better than he is) so we sounded pretty terrible. Jim did this thing where he changed the lyrics to things he was looking at. We sang "It's Beginning to Look a lot Like Phyllis," "Silent Dwight," "Away in the Manager"... Angela was pretty militant about everyone sounding good, so she was pretty mad at us, which made it so much funnier. Looking back, we were a little obnoxious, but it made for a really fun night for me. So I guess, as lame as it sounds, singing "Stanley Claus is Comin' to Town" with Jim is my favorite Christmas memory.
My favorite holiday memory was the year I opened the most wonderful gift I've ever received. It was an all black, high tech, one-piece Gore-Tex dream. Yes that's right. A ski suit that actually fit! I'm an avid skier and have mastered the slopes from Telluride to the Alps. But it had always been quite embarrassing for me, as all snow pants came mid-calf, and any jacket barely went past my wrists. I can tear apart double diamonds with the best of them, but no matter how fast and elegantly I carved down a mountain, I still looked like a gangling goof. Kids would yell out, "Nerdburger!" Old people would scream, "Ugly!" It really got to me. I actually gave up skiing between the years of 1999-2004. But life changed forever after Jo special ordered me the best ski suit any Venti guy could ask for. Now I hit the slopes in comfort and style, and the worst anybody's yelled out is, "Random." They've just probably never seen a guy with a rockin' mink fur hood and a luxurious excess of reflective piping and sweat vents. That's okay; I'll take jealousy over revulsion any day.
My greatest Christmas memory came last year at a charity function. At the end of every year Bob has to make donations, you know, for the write-offs. Usually he donates to Vietnamese Hope Foundation for Women, which is nice I guess, but last year I got him to donate to a local foundation that helps underprivileged youth. Together we volunteered at a dinner with all the kids. They were so sweet and thankful. But the best part came when Bob made a toast and he explained that he loved giving back to the community, but not as much as he loved giving to his wife. Then he brought out a diamond necklace for me! It was beautiful! But it didn't stop there - Bob went on to give me a matching tennis bracelet, ring, and earrings! I wore them for the rest of the night. To all the underprivileged kids I looked like a queen it was the best Christmas memory of my life!
My favorite Christmas memory was from when I was a 10-year-old boy. I made a friend, a best friend in fact. His name was Eddie. And he was black. His family was staying next door for the holidays, visiting from Pittsburg. We were friends as soon as we met! Eddie and I played together. We looked at the stars together. We went on runs together - of course Eddie was much faster than I was. Even though it made my mom uneasy, she still let him sit at the dinner table beside me. People around town would look at me strangely when I talked to Eddie, but I didn't care. Maybe we did come from different worlds, but when I was hanging with him, none of that stuff mattered. Unfortunately, after New Year's his family went back to Pittsburg and I never saw him again. I still miss him. Every year around Christmas time I still think of my best friend Eddie, the coolest Labrador retriever in the world.