Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Our annual Christmas Shopping Trip

     As any reader of this blog can tell, we have made a lot of traditions in my family.  Even setting aside the more common Holiday ones, we have quite a few, but among these all, my favorite has to be the annual Christmas shopping trip with my brothers and brother-in laws.  It's a 20 plus year tradition, and likely has spawned a few knock-offs in it's day, but there is only one way to really do it, Yarger style.

     I don't remember the first one, but for a few years it was just my brother Ace and I.  The formula was simple then, and hasn't changed much, try to shop as little as possible, and then have a good time at a few bars to relieve the stress of Holiday shopping.   The exact correct ratio of the first to the second is 1:7, and the shopping can't take more than an hour.  We started just going to a few local stores (The Red Wearhouse in Flint was my favorite), and then on to a few watering holes.  Nothing prevented our night out,
Sage advice to a young male
we even slid into a pole one night on the way to shopping, and we turned around, switched vehicles, and headed back out the same road.  Over the next few years, the number of attendees grew and we upgraded our shopping site to Eastview Mall.  We still did it in under an hour, we'd meet in the front, set our watches, and scatter to "shop" for the next 50 minutes or so, making sure that we were back by the appointed time.  I say "shop" but none of us do, we go, buy, and come back.  Even holding up 2 items to compare them will likely get you kicked out of this club, we don't have time for that, you'd better know what you want prior to coming out with us.  I remember the first year that my sister Hummingbird's husband came out with us and was 15 minutes late for the rendezvous.  He came back, smiling, and was greeted by 5 or 6 angry faces, and his only excuse was, "I thought you were kidding about doing the entire mall in an hour".  He was replaced with her second husband, whom I'm happy to say has never taken more than the agreed upon time, we think we will keep him.

     In the early years, we'd bring our food with us to try and save some time.  I'd do up some appetizers and some fried foods, and I had a plug in warmer that I used for my job as a food salesperson which we would bring with us.  The crowd, after the first few years, ran from 5-12 attendees depending on how many
Typical night at Eddie O's Canandaigua
brothers, brother in laws, nephews and friends could join us.  It has always been guys only, although a sister has crashed a portion of it, a time or two.  Early on we hits bars like McGhans, The Black Diamond Hotel, and then headed to Canandaigua.  The likely schedule any given year now is, Shop, Jose and Willy's, Wally's Pub, Rocky's, Cdga Brew Pub, Eddie O's, The Pickering, Farmers Inn, Niagara, and possibly Don's on the way home.  It's not quite the 12 Bars of Christmas, but we get close some years (give us a break, we have to shop you know, and our trip pre-dates any 12 bar outing that I am aware of).  The longest stop now is likely Wally's and we stop there to re-fuel.  Tradition holds that we order 20 chicken wings per person and try and finish them off.  Some years we do better than others (one year the last few wings were inserted in my coat pocket for my wife to find later, it did not give here the Christmas spirit, trust me).  The jukebox at Wally's has always been the best one in town, so that helps to get us psyched  up for the fun that is to follow.  I never claimed we Yargers were good dancers, but that has never stopped a few of us from trying.

     The most common place for us to dance is the Brew Pub, although we have done others depending on the band or DJ.  I like the Brew Pub, because we don't go there on a regular basis, so few people know us.
What it looked like when I danced with Xena
That makes for some interesting nights.  Admittedly I do more dancing than the rest of the group, but you haven't lived until you've seen my BIL's "statue dance" in the middle of a dance floor.  He struts out, crosses his arms, and stands there for the entirety of the dance, with his partner(s), dancing around him.  He's the one that married "She Who Shall Not Be Named" and he is in pretty good shape, so he actually attracts girls this way.  I, on the other hand, don't have a chiseled chest, so I have to rely on witty banter, and plying girls with alcohol, in order to get my dance partners.   Truth be told, I didn't have a chiseled chest when I was younger either, so I'm pretty practiced in the alcohol plying and witty banter method.  I could write a few blogs about all the good times we've had dancing, but here I think I'll highlight just a couple.   We've met a nurse who looked like Monica Lewinsky, who made "house calls" and wanted to share her number and her limo with us, we danced with a Xena Princess Warrior clone, who towered a foot over us all and could lift us off the floor, spent time with two frisky factory girls that my brother Aquaman met, who were fixated on my nephew, and ended one evening talking to a nymphomaniac pretty blonde who felt awfully comfortable confessing her intimate needs and talents.  You really can't make this stuff up.  Each time, however, we left with just our original group, our morals intact, and of course these great stories to bring back. 

     The rest of the night becomes a  pattern after this, drinking, talking, dancing, rinse, repeat.  At some point someone is bound to suggest we do a shot (usually it's me), so we do.  We finish when the bars close, and then head for home with our designated driver safely at the wheel (we'd do breakfast, but do you know how long it takes to digest 20 wings?).  We wake late the next morning, most of us with hangovers, and start thinking about how we are going to improve the gathering next year.  It's amazing how often we do have progressively better times in spite of our advancing ages.  Trust me, it's a much needed stress reducer for us as the year draws to a close.   As this blog draws to a close, I invite you to start your own such tradition.  It's safe, it's fun, there is great camaraderie, and you'll have something to look forward to each year.  I know I do, and you might too, after all, the limo is still waiting. 

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