Merry Christmas from MCC!

Merry Christmas!

Considerably sized Christmas tree live from the heart of downtown Indianapolis.

Longtime MCC readers may recognize the above-pictured tree has graced this site before. I try not to post the exact same images or words to mark every single Christmastime, but other sites do it, so why injure myself trying to uphold a standard that doesn’t bug anyone except me. Besides, I think I deserve at least a tiny moment of coasting — I officially finished my Christmas shopping three days ago and have yet to receive a single pat on the head for it. So this quick “Merry Christmas” post is my own personal “TREAT YO’SELF” reward.

I mean the sentiment nonetheless, though: Merry Christmas to you ‘n’ yours from us here at Midlife Crisis Crossover, High-Spirited Holidays, Vivacious Vacation, Divine December, and/or congratulations on reaching the light at the end of the 2019 tunnel. May your day be merry and bright, your celebrations invigorating, your downtime rewarding, and your internet circles calm and peaceful and filled with joyous content besides premature Best of 2019 listicles.

My Just Barely Black Friday 2019

Kohl's Pillows!

Wheeling down the aisles at Kohl’s with my tiny cart piled high.

The one Black Friday item that Anne and I wanted more than any other this year was cheap pillows. We’re that old now.

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Merry Christmas from MCC!

Elf Sweater!

Not an ugly sweater in my book. I mean, the fashion chapter in my book is just a footnote that says, “EDITORS NOTE: The author doesn’t get fashion,” but still.

This year most of my Christmas ties were given the season off while a new addition to my holiday wardrobe gets taken out for a couple of spins.

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An Old-Fashioned Christmas-Card Christmas

Christmas Cards!

Shout-out to the 15 keeping it old-school.

In the ancient days of the twentieth century, before the internet normalized access to instantaneous contact with other humans thousands of miles away, keeping in touch with distant family and friends took effort and/or money. Long-distance calls weren’t included free in our monthly phone bills and racked up astronomical charges if we stayed on the line more than a few minutes. Cross-country travel was affordable for upper classes but a luxury beyond the reach of my family. That left two choices on the table for us: making do with happy thoughts and prayers; or the United States Postal Service.

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Thanksgiving Between the Christmas Cues

Thursday paper!

Another ancient tradition falling by the wayside in today’s culture: newspapers thrown on driveways.

Before our first glimpse of Thanksgiving turkey or family, my long holiday weekend kicked off after work Wednesday when I arrived home around 4 p.m. to find Thursday morning’s newspaper already delivered, articles and all. The largest physical edition every year, Thanksgiving Day papers are coveted for their Black Friday ads, more or less the official Christmas season launch. Shoppers can’t wait to get started on it — hence more and more stores reopening on Thanksgiving itself, hours ahead of the Black Friday starter pistols. It stands to reason our carrier couldn’t wait to get past it, to unload this newsprint behemoth as soon as possible.

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Merry Christmas (again!) in Four Scenes from MCC!

Fireplace!

The festive fireplace at Mooresville’s own Gray Bros. Cafeteria, as seen on TV’s Man v. Food, one of my wife’s all-time favorite restaurants.

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What “Christmas Shoes” Means to Me

shoes!

Guess which ones are mine and win an MCC No-Prize!

No, not the song. Egad, no. No no no no no.

Once again it’s the season for family making the visitation rounds for the sake and spirit of Christmas. Our largest family gathering every year is at my father-in-law’s place, where this year over three dozen relatives and plus-ones convened on Saturday morning, though just to brag for the record, Anne and I were among the three (3) people who could be bothered to arrived on time.

One of the major house rules is shoes come off at the front door, because older couples who think white carpet is a splendid decorating choice are finicky that way. By the time everyone arrived and got down to eating and mingling throughout the afternoon, the entryway was a cluttered war zone of castoff footwear. No heels, no Manolo Blahniks, nothing you’d wear to a shoeshine stand. Neither our families nor our gatherings see high rollers like that. Anyone who would object to such carefree shoe storage would be recognized right away as Not One of Us.

And yes, I see you number-crunchers out there scrunching your nose because you count two dozen pairs at most in the photo. Several more pairs were offscreen to my left. It’s also possible that a few of the toddlers were allowed to keep theirs on. I wouldn’t know. I wasn’t looking because no one assigned me to Christmas Shoe Police duty.

The shoe pile is emblematic of our gatherings themselves, whether it’s holidays, kids’ birthday parties, or the annual reunions where we’re joined by a few extra strangers of shared blood. Everyone who’s a citizen of our tiny microcosm nation agrees to throw in together and make one big mess. At the end we agree to retrieve the parts of the mess that were our fault, one by one, family unit by family unit, until order is restored and my in-laws have their foyer back.

It’s Christmas. It’s what we do. In our finer moments it’s how we can be as a family in other matters as well.

Merry Christmas to you ‘n’ yours from us here at Midlife Crisis Crossover. May your days be merry and bright, may your celebrations of our Savior be blessed and comforting, and here’s hoping the circles you belong to will set aside their reservations and come together in happy, sloppy, love-filled pileups of their own.

The Annual Monumental Christmas Transformation

Monument Circle!

My walking path to the comic shop on Thanksgiving Eve.

Here in Indianapolis every year, the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in the center of downtown is upconverted into “The World’s Largest Christmas Tree”, as it’s been billed for decades. I have no idea if that record holds, or if it was later disqualified for lack of organic roots, or if it was cute hyperbole from Year 1 onward. Regardless, it’s one of our most beloved holiday tourist attractions, and a far more tasteful and aesthetically pleasing tradition than Black Friday shopping.

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Merry Christmas in Seven Scenes from MCC!

Nativity scene!

The prettiest among my in-laws’ Nativity scenes, a handicraft find on one of their small-town expeditions, which they’ve surrounded with a selection of this year’s Christmas cards. I didn’t realize till a few minutes ago that the card we sent them tried to sneak into the shot.

Christmastime is here, basically! With last-minute shopping to do, relatives to visit, presents to give, and fresh-baked cookies to overdose upon, sleeping in heavenly peace may be an unattainable luxury during our three-day weekend. As we’re finalizing our plans and preparing to dive in, please enjoy this gallery of memories from our past four weeks foreshadowing the upcoming celebrations of Jesus’ birth (observed) and all those’ll entail, Lord willing.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Wondrous Weekend from the staff here at Midlife Crisis Crossover.

Right this way for six more quick shots of Christmas!

A Very Special Indianapolis 500 Christmas

Light tunnel!

Drivers, start your string lights!

We have a few neighbors shaming us with their scintillating Christmas light displays, reminiscent of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation minus the buffoonery and severe injuries. We spent one evening this week getting out of the house for a bit and taking a scenic drive through the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, home of the world-famous Indy 500 and host of a holiday attraction brand new for the 2016 holiday season.

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Sweet Anticipation of Goodies to Come

cookie mix!

Courtesy of my workplace, I came home today after a long, draining week bearing a glass jar of merry Christmas benevolence. Some assembly required.

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New Scenes from Our Annual Christmas Convention

Marilyn Monroe lights!

Vendor booths? Check. Creative bling? Check. Famous movie characters? Check!

Each November my wife and I take her grandmother to Indianapolis’ own Christmas Gift & Hobby Show at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. When we checked out this year’s model last month, the event was on its 67th year; Mamaw is on her 91st and still going strong. The Show provides a variety of shopping opportunities and entertainment activities, some of which began to remind us in not-so-subtle ways of our favorite geek conventions. This show doesn’t have nearly the scope or the attendance of C2E2 or the Indiana Comic Con, but we had to wonder if the new showrunners picked up an influence or two from our scene.

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How the Emperor Stole Christmas

How the Emperor Stole Christmas!

“At last we will reveal ourselves for Christmas. At last we will have presents.”

[DIRECTOR’S NOTE: The following Christmas poem, written by Star Wars fans for Star Wars fans, works best if read in the deep, laconic manner of Boris Karloff, James Earl Jones, Keith David, or Epic Voice Guy. As this piece hews more closely to the original book than to the Chuck Jones animated adaptation, we leave it to the individual reader to invent and insert musical numbers at their own discretion.]

Every Jedi down on Coruscant liked Christmas a lot
But the Emperor, who lived just this side of Coruscant, did NOT!
The Emperor hated Christmas! The whole Christmas season!
Now please don’t ask why. He’ll kill you without reason.
It could be that electricity in his eyes was too bright.
It could be, perhaps, that his robe was too tight.
But I think the most likely reason of all
Was that his heart was two sizes too small.
But whatever the reason, his robe or his eyes,
He stood there on Christmas Eve, hating Jedis.

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Christmas is Over for Now

Xmas Countdown!

With one Christmas countdown ended, now another Christmas countdown has begun. The chalkboard Santa in our annual Christmas diorama is a little too anxious to push us forward, encourage us to start saving up already, and have us ignore the next fifteen major holidays in favor of his. Nice try, Santa, but you were too late to stop the one store I saw this afternoon that already had Valentine’s Day swag on the shelves, right on schedule.

Right this way for light musings as we prepare to burn off what’s left of 2015!

Scenes from Christmastime 2015!

Santa Yoda!

Fit into our Christmas tree theme this year, Santa Yoda does.

Christmas! Christmas! Christmas! Christmas! Christmas!

That time of year we celebrate Christ’s birth and the fulfillment that came with it. That blessed season when we wrap up the year with one last multi-platform shopping marathon. That timeless trial when we find out how strong or how weak the communication lines are between distaff family members. That awkward negotiation over which gatherings we are or aren’t attending. That discomfiting anticipation that somewhere out there is a stress-induced tantrum with our name on it. That quick escalation into spiraling darkness if you don’t snap out of it and remind yourself of the reasons for the season, the fruits of the spirit, and oh what fun it is to ride and so on.

In honor of the main event, please enjoy this humble collection of random moments from the past few weeks that highlight local gentle reminders of the occasion and the joy inherent in holiday decorating. We here at Midlife Crisis Crossover wish you ‘n’ yours a super Merry Christmas, and we do hope you get the opportunity to connect with loved ones in between multiple showings of The Force Awakens.

Right this way for our 2015 Christmas gallery!

My Favorite Christmas Tie

Christmas Ties!

I don’t own many neckties with pictures or characters on them partly because I’m finicky, partly because I’m not great at accessorizing, and mostly because ties are ridiculously expensive to a guy who hates more than $25 for a pair of shoes. Thanks to the benevolence of family and friends, though, I’m the proud owner of six Christmas ties that I wear to work every year as a personal countdown on the last six business days before Christmas. Guys like me may not have a lot of options for dressing all Christmassy in an office setting, but I enjoy making the most of what I’m given, and the Six Ties of Christmas are it.

I like all of them to varying degrees, but one of these means more to me than the others.

Right this way for storytime! But not about the obvious tie…

7 Things to Know Before You Go Out Christmas Caroling

Muppet Carolers!

The Swedish Chef, Beaker, and Animal proved with “Ringing of the Bells” you don’t need a great singing voice to go caroling, but you may need safety equipment.

My wife Anne loves singing Christmas carols. She used to be first among her coworkers to begin singing them every year until she bowed to peer pressure and agreed to wait till at least after Columbus Day. I learned most of the catalog in grade school and willingly participated in three consecutive Christmas programs, even soloing once on “The First Noel” for an audience of hundreds of parents, none of whom had the clout to offer me a recording contract. Our old Bible study group used to visit group homes and nursing homes, serenade residents with a medley of timeless classics, and bring them baskets of cookies and/or fruit in the spirit of the season.

We love Christmas songs. We have a lot of fun singing them to appreciative crowds. We love being given the opportunity to sing for others as an act of service, an outpouring of faith, and an outlet for our pent-up expressive hearts. We’d join multiple caroling groups if the right offers rolled in. I blame our inactivity on our agent, George Glass.

But Christmas caroling isn’t as easy as it looks, especially if your fellow singers aren’t on the same page. We regret we’ve learned this the hard way. If You, the Viewers at Home, have ever considered singing Christmas songs to others, whether to praise Jesus or to have a good time, we offer you seven handy tips for simplifying your caroling mission, bringing a merry gleam to the eyes of others, creating a pleasant memory, and hopefully remaining on good speaking terms with the rest of the choir by the end of the night.

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Mourning Around the Christmas Tree

Christmas Tree 2015!

Plan A for me tonight was to write about either of the two new movies I’ve seen in theaters over the past week. I have a few Plan B’s stored up in case of mental short-circuit. Tonight, I just…can’t. Nothing I want to enjoy sharing is working.

Ever since I got home, I’ve found it impossible to concentrate on writing because I first had to spend a while catching up with online anguish over the San Bernardino shootings. And, bringing up the rear in all news roundups, the smaller shooting in Savannah, dwarfed and nearly invisible next to San Bernardino, like that time The Love Letter opened the same weekend as The Phantom Menace. That’s a horrible, boorish comparison, to say the least. But that’s where we seem to be headed, into a future in which so many are growing up to become disgruntled, corrupted, fundamentally broken, spiritually deformed gunslingers that the career track has become overcrowded and they’re now vying for public attention like some lethal breed of fame-starved pop idols. Soon they’ll have to start hiring black-market publicists to coordinate their outbursts with each other so none of them overlap and each shooter can have a chance to dominate the news cycle for a minimum number of hours before the next shooter steps up to the range.

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Scenes from the 2015 Christmas Gift & Hobby Show

Santa!

My wife and her grandmother hanging with their old pal Mr. C.

Each November my wife and I take her grandmother to Indianapolis’ own Christmas Gift & Hobby Show at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. Last Saturday when we dropped by, the event was on its 66th year; Mamaw is on her 90th. Most months, she leaves the house only when family or friends take her to church or the grocery, but the two of us enjoy driving her to two major events, where her brother works security and scores us free tickets. The Indiana Flower and Patio Show in March is her Super Bowl; the Christmas Gift and Hobby Show is her San Diego Comic Con.

Right this way for too-early Christmas photos!

Top 10 Captions for Your Inflatable Armed Snowman

Snowman Hunter!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: we took our first plane ride and walked away from the landing without a scratch. While my wife is holding up the “business” end of her “business trip” travel deal, I’m spending the week running around Colorado Springs and the surrounding areas to see new sights that didn’t make the cut on our 2012 road trip.

After she was released from duty today a few hours early, we spent some bonus quality time together and visited a few places we’d never been before. One of those was Bass Pro Shops, which has zero locations within 100 miles of our hometown. We don’t hunt, fish, boat, seriously hike, go camping, stock up on assault gear, or participate in most other functions supported by the products we saw, so it’s not as though we’d personally have a good use for one. But we know they’re a big deal to some folks, and we just so happened to be in a convenient position to peek inside one. We decided to browse for our own curiosity.

As I expected, we saw animal taxidermy, assorted weapons, outdoor clothing for outdoor people, fish capturing mechanisms, and so forth. In other words, much like our Dick’s Sporting Goods back home, or the Cabela’s we’ve seen in other states. That makes sense to me. Not our demographic, but we have plenty of friends and family who’d consider such places a great reason for an all-day shopping trip.

And then there was the big guy in the above photo. I stared and I stared, and I don’t get him. I just don’t understand his existence. At all.

Right this way for pet theories why!

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