I've written about guilty pleasures before. Basically, I don't really believe in them- like what you want, for whatever reason you want and hold your head high. Recently, I got to indulge in one of my favourite proud-pleasures- the church Christmas bazaar.
How do I encapsulate my love for these little havens of knick-knackery and home baking? I can't - they are more than words to me. For as long as I can remember, every November my family and I have trundled ourselves off to the local churches for a day-long celebration of all things slightly-musty and homemade. And I honestly wouldn't trade that day for the world. After years of lollygagging and mindless wandering, we've finally developed a system that would make an army general proud.
8:30 - get up, immediately regret early saturday wake-up. Remember delicious chocolate chip cookies from last year. Get out of bed, stagger to bathroom, splash water on face and accidentally put undereye cream on instead of lipbalm.
9:00 - admire wrinkle-less lips, get on bus, head out to suburbs.
9:30 - arrive at suburbs, get picked up by family, who are equally sleep-and-coffee-deprived. Drive to first church.
10:00 - 13:00 - caffeine-less blur of bake tables, knitting projects, used book perusing and sandwich-and-soup-eating.
13:30 - leave suburbs, loaded down with books and "fill this for only a dollar" bags. Eat brownies until even the thought of chocolate brings on a brief weeping spell.
13:12 - begin countdown until next year.
We have it down to a science. Each of the four churches we visit on that frosty November Saturday has its pros and cons, and we don't even have to think about them anymore - we just know. We're the bazaar whisperers. It's common knowledge among us that the Catholics have a decent bake sale (but the prices are too high) and their raffle is worth a look; the Anglicans have a well-organized book room, a great white elephant table, and their cookie selection and pricing can't be beat; the Presbyterians have awful silent auctions but a top-notch tea room and a well-organized knitting selection. And the Unitarians? Damn, people. Just don't even bother trying to compete. They have it all - fabulous ethnic food, quality silent auction, books that are still charting on the bestseller list - seriously. My sister and I have seriously considered converting just to get the early bird deals at the Holly and Lace Bazaar.
As I get older, I try to simplify the holiday season. There were traditions I kept up with only because they were just that - traditions; I didn't want to be the first to break them. But really? I wasn't enjoying a lot of them. I was just saying to TB the other day that I love this season but Christmas day itself I can take or leave. It's full of cooking and schlepping and last minute wrapping (if you're us) and cleaning and tidying and blee blah bloo. But some traditions are just perfect. I love getting out my Playmobil advent calendar, I love sending the world's most annoying Christmas cards (actually putting them together is another thing, but I digress), I love walking through freshly fallen snow and singing along with The Carpenters' Christmas album and eating latkes, and decorating my office and drinking rum-soaked cocktails and hanging out with friends who've come home for the holidays. And damn it, I love me some Christmas bazaars. It's one of the traditions that's worth the fuss and bother of driving all over Hell's acres to get to. Because seriously, 5 cupcakes for $1.25? Suck it, Magnolia, I'll take whatever Ethel and Pearl are serving.