The Christmas season is now upon us, ladies and gentlemen. The in-laws have departed for another month, our living rooms are littered with fresh pine needles, the holiday weight gain has initiated, and “Rocking Around the Christmas Tree” will now be played 24/7 on your local radio station. It’s undeniable: Christmas is finally here.
My shotgun start to the holiday season began on Thanksgiving. My family celebration was a great reminder of just how insane my relatives are…and, consequentially, just how much I love them. I attempt to keep a normal amount of anonymity on my blog, so I won’t post each and every embarrassing picture I took last Thursday…however, I think these three pictures sum up the entire night (and how close my family may truly be to straight jackets and happy blue pills).
Charlie Sheen’s Thanksgiving
(minus the stripper)
I kept my holiday kick-off party going on Saturday, as I opened a new show I am a part of. I will be performing in a Christmas musical now until December 19th, presenting 23 shows, 7 days a week. I blogged about this event on Saturday, and it’s already been a great source of happiness and Christmas spirit.
You know another great way to kickoff the holidays?!? Chicken wings.
Yes. That’s a chicken wing. NOT Godzilla’s thigh…a real, honest-to-God chicken wing. I took The Mom out for dinner on Sunday night, feasting on our favorite fare, pizza and Buffalo wings. Or should I say, T-Rex Wings, because the above delicacy could NOT have come from a chicken. It was bigger than the salt shaker picture above it in the photograph. Don’t misunderstand my words: it was fried-Buffalo-soaked Heaven.
And, of course, what holiday kick-off meal wouldn’t be complete with a proper libation?
Sam Adams Holiday Porter: if you’re not drinking it, you must be Ebenezer Scrooge…or The Grinch….or sober.
The Mom and I had a terrific meal together. We engaged in wonderful conversation, wonderful beer, and wonderful ranch-dipped pizza. My Sunday RAC was even a product of our evening.
I had been thinking about the art of holiday tipping for a while now…ever since I began this blog. It’s customary to give a little more during the holidays, yet once those Salvation Army buckets start appearing and multiplying like jackrabbits in heat, you become a little more hesitant with your wallet. Thankfully, there were no bell-waving maniacs in sight.
Towards the end of the meal, we received our check: $10 for pizza & wings, for two…not a bad night at all. I looked at the check, and back at The Mom…then back at the check…then back at The Mom. She looked at me as if I was having a seizure, which is usually how I look when I’m deep in thought (hey, it’s a process).
The Mom: What?
Me: You know what? I think I have an RAC here.
Everyone tips their waitress, right? No matter how much of a skinflint you can be, you always tip your wait staff something, even if they are as competent as a pile of moss. But, how often do you tip them more than 20%? More than 50%? Do you ever tip them…100%??? I know how I’d answer…in big, flashing, neon lights, even:
I, for one, don’t have the funds to participate in this kind of act all the time. But, Sunday night….as I stared at a small bill which brought great food, great company, and great Buffalo wings, I knew what I had to do for my RAC: I would tip the waitress 100%.
She wasn’t a particularly great waitress: I don’t believe she checked on us once we had our meal, she wasn’t especially charming, and it took her a while to actually take our order. But, she did deliver the food in a timely fashion, and left us alone to enjoy our meal. Honestly, she didn’t truly warrant a 100% tip…but there was something in the air that night (or, maybe there was something extra in the beer…who knows). I wanted, just for the festive purpose of it, to tip her a bit extra, even though it wasn’t a miraculous amount. I just felt…merry.
I have no idea what happened after we left the restaurant that night. We didn’t stick around to see her reaction: we just left our tip on the table. She was probably so busy that evening that she just scooped up tip after tip from her section and never gave it a second thought. Regardless of the results…maybe, just maybe, my extra tip will be the cause of something good in her life. Maybe she’ll buy a winning lottery ticket with it. Maybe she’ll donate it back to those fanatic Salvation Army ringers. And, maybe she’ll buy a really bad shade of nail polish, try it once, and then give it to her 5-year-old kid sister, who accidentally mistakes it for candy and has to go to the emergency room on Christmas Eve for nail polish poisoning. Either way, it was a very fulfilling, out of character gesture for myself, and I’m glad I did it.
You wanna know another out-of-character gesture for myself? Giving to vagabonds on the street.
Last night, on my way to a Straight No Chaser concert, I was approached by a wandering vagrant who solicited my attention. First off, I thought she was asking me directions to the nearest subway, which clearly was incorrect, because our city does, in fact, feature NO subway whatsoever. By the third time she was able to mumble a complete sentence, I understood that a.) she wanted a submarine sandwich, b.)she needed to enunciate more, and c.)she needed some money.
Now, I spent two full years living in New York City…a place scattered with street dwellers and loiterers who beg for a living (and end up making more than me). I maintained a “No Beggar” policy while I was there…not because I’m cold hearted and ignorant enough to not believe that some of those people truly need help….but because these people were EVERYWHERE. You’d spy at least 3 people with a cardboard sign and a used coffee cup on every block in NYC…and that’s in a good part of town. You just get to a point where you start to wonder who’s really in need…and who’s really living in a Central Park high rise with a hot tub and a butler.
So, perhaps the above paragraph explains why my RAC for Monday did, in fact, involve Submarine Sandwich Lady. Like I said…I never, ever give to people on the street, but for some reason last night, I did. I didn’t give a lot. In fact, I was 97% close to walking away. My companion for that evening was just about to leave her behind, but that little voice in the back of my head took control, and I found myself giving her a bit of spare change. I don’t know why I did it, and I don’t know if her story was real. But here’s something I do know: to be out on the streets, begging for money at 7:30 PM, with temperatures reaching into the 20’s…something’s gotta be wrong in your life, even if you truly don’t need to beg.
So, I left her with a simple “Merry Christmas,” and went on my way to the concert (which was AWESOME…holy cow, those guys were great). Like my extra tip at dinner on Sunday, I’ll never know if my gesture made a difference in Submarine Sandwich Lady’s life. But, as I’m discovering, you can’t expect anything from these kinds of actions. You just have to commit to them, trusting that maybe…just maybe…for a brief 5 minutes, people are happy and all is right with the world.
RAC #30 & 31: Tipped waitress 100% off bill & gave to a random person on the street