The heat is on, last-minute Christmas shoppers. Time is slipping away quickly, the selection is becoming slim and every time a free day arises for some shopping time, another 2 feet of snow falls, making a trip to the mall a potentially deadly and decidedly non-jolly sleigh ride down the Thruway. I have probably complained about Christmas shopping every single year that I have been writing this column but honestly, is there any aspect about the holidays that is more stressful? What do you buy for the dog that has everything? Will I be able to find my mother a sweater that she won't feel inclined to return this year? Do I really have to pay $27 in shipping in order to receive this gift by Christmas? Will I ever learn that this is a task best tackled before Thanksgiving?
Just as I finished typing that last sentence, an e-mail popped into my inbox about some new iPhone app (short for both "application" and "appetizer") that is supposed to help you "de-stress this holiday season." The app, called "Awareness," helps to calm your frazzled nerves by asking, "What are you feeling right now?" I might suggest that you accomplish this task more effectively by having an actual conversation with a human being instead of telling your phone how you're feeling. That sounds extraordinarily depressing.
But I digress. Here's how you solve your last-minute Christmas shopping dilemma: either hit up the local shops and forget about traveling far for your gifts, as there will be at least five more blizzards between now and Christmas, or get online ASAP. There are some hot, hot sales right now, and some sites are still guaranteeing delivery in time to get that gift wrapped and underneath the tree. If Santa's sleigh still gets delayed, try our household method: wrap up a picture of the present that is yet to arrive.
Those looking to feel all Christmasy should tune in to Turner Classic Movies Monday for “The Shop Around the Corner” starring Margaret Sullavan and Jimmy Stewart.
DRINK OF THE WEEK
"It's a marshmallow world in the winter," according to the holiday song I'm listening to on Pandora radio online - why not make your hot chocolate boozy? The Chocolate Kiev is as follows: combine 1 oz. hot chocolate mix (I suggest "rich" hot chocolate instead of milk chocolate), 4 oz. of hot milk, 1 oz. of vanilla vodka, and 3/4 oz. Amaretto. Add plenty of marshmallows - not those lousy, crunchy little rocks they call "marshmallows" in the hot chocolate mix packets, but the real ones.
WHAT REALLY GRINDS MY GEARS
The silent treatment. There is a sharp increase in this phenomenon with the onset of the holidays - gatherings for family and co-workers provide the perfect opportunity for animosity to be expressed in this manner. What I find to be most puzzling about the silent treatment is that more often than not, it actually benefits the person it is intended to punish. Why not say "thank you" with a festive holiday cookie bouquet? (This is the best way to deal with any awkward social situation).
There is a classic Christmas movie marathon on Turner Classic Movies on Friday. First, Janet Leigh must choose between two suitors in "Holiday Affair" (1950) at 8 p.m. Next, Judy Garland and Van Johnson star in the musical remake of "The Shop Around the Corner," "In The Good Old Summertime" (1949) at 9:30 p.m. (The super-delightful original, "The Shop Around the Corner," starring Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan, will be on TCM at 10 p.m. Monday, Dec. 20). The 1949 version of "Little Women" with Liz Taylor, June Allyson and Margaret O'Brien is on at 11:30 p.m. The last two films are a little more unconventional: the holiday horror movie "Black Christmas" (1974) at 2 a.m. and "Santa Claus Conquers the Martians" (1964) at 3:45 a.m.
Two new Hallmark Channel Christmas movies: the timeless tale "Gift of the Magi" starring Marla Sokoloff and Mark Webber, on tonight at 8 p.m., and "Battle of the Bulbs" on Saturday at 8 p.m., about a neighborhood war of Christmas decorations. (Check out some of the most festive local homes on the list of Holiday Homes, page A8).
NPH plus Christmas equals "hooray." In digitally-animated new version of "Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus," - simply titled "Yes, Virginia - stars such as Neil Patrick Harris and Jennifer Love Hewitt lend their voices. It will be on CBS on Friday at 8 p.m.
There's nothing like a "Real Housewives" dinner party gone wrong - especially when it's thrown by Camille Grammer. Tune in tonight for the aptly-titled episode, "The Dinner Party From Hell," on Bravo at 10 p.m.
It's Oscar buzz season - which means we haven't seen most of the movies that everyone has been raving about for weeks. For other local movie-lovers, if you, too, are distraught that "Black Swan" nor "The Fighter" has not yet come to a theater in the realm of Chautauqua County, fret not, as we only have a day more to wait. "The Fighter" comes to the Dunkirk Movieplex on Friday and "Black Swan" will be showing at the Regal Quaker Crossing beginning on Friday as well. They were both announced as Golden Globe Best Motion Picture Drama.
Those eager to see the Coen Brothers' latest film "True Grit," coming out next week, may want to take note that the 1969 version of "True Grit" (upon which it is based) will be on TCM at 8 p.m. Dec. 22. John Wayne stars in the role that Jeff Bridges will play in the new film.
Rookie's is having "It's a Christmas Party!" on Saturday at 9 p.m. Black Widow will play from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. There will be food, prizes and refreshments. Tickets are available at the bar or call Rick at 401-1354.
41 West will have live music by Last Call from 9 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and on Saturday, see Steve Johnson, Charity Nuse and Kev Rowe of Big Leg Emma, performing from 9:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.
Also at 41 West, the Karaoke Christmas Party will be held on Tuesday, Dec. 21, getting started at 9 p.m. and going until close. The fun is open to one and all, with a Best Christmas Hat Contest, Most Holiday Spirit Contest, a Chinese auction, free snacks, door prizes and a cash drawing. Donations are also being accepted at 41 West karaoke on Tuesdays and Thursday to help a local family in need.
Rinky Dink will play the Elks Lodge Saturday, Dec. 18 from 7 to 11 p.m. Members and eligible guests.
At the Beaver Club in Fredonia on Friday, live music by Wagner & Winston will be featured at 9 p.m.
April Diodato is the OBSERVER Lifestyles editor. Drop her a Christmasy line at firstname.lastname@example.org