Marc and I have been contemplating the purchase of new outdoor Christmas lights for a while now.
We have some snowflake lights we bought a few years ago that we've never really liked.
They're "cold" lights instead of "warm" and they look kinda chintzy.
Since Marc is the one in the household who puts them up every year it seems he ought to get a say in what we do.
So when he found some icicle lights he liked at Lowe's we started seriously planning to buy them even though they were a bit pricey.
We shopped around and didn't find any others we liked better.
We measured the house and determined how many strands we would need.
We waited for Black Friday to see if they went on sale. (They didn't.)
We stood at the display looking them over until I got a migraine from the strobe effect.
Today we bit the bullet.
We gathered up our three boxes and headed to the checkstand.
The cashier looked over our cache and rang them up.
It came to $160 and change.
"Whoa!" she said. "Those are expensive lights."
"We know," we said. "We're replacing some we bought a few years ago that we've never really liked."
"I wish I could spend that kind of money on Christmas lights," she said sadly. "But I don't even know if my kids are going to have any Christmas this year. My sister died and there's no money for anything."
Marc and I looked at each other, uncertain as to what to do or say so we said nothing.
We handed her our credit card, took our lights and left.
All the way to the car and home we felt badly.
Should we have ditched our plan and given her $160 instead of buying lights we can't eat or share with the starving children in China?
Should we go back and ask her how we can help?
Should we feel ashamed of wasting our hard-earned money?
I only needed one more Elsa doll.
So when the lady at the local Disney story said she had some, I jumped in the car and headed south.
I had an appointment at 10 a.m. but it was only 9 a.m. when I left and I figured, what, the mall is 20 minutes away, I could pop in and grab my doll, pop out and be back in American Fork in time, right?
And since I hadn't seen any authentic Elsa dolls since we returned from Europe, it warranted the effort.
I needed a match for my last Anna doll for a granddaughter.
So off I charged.
I arrived in good time. I headed to the mall doors only to find little red signs hanging on the handles.
The signs said the mall wouldn't be open until 10 a.m. and until then only the doors on the north side would be unlocked.
I sighed and headed to the north side. The doors weren't open.
Apparently there was a magic north door.
I went back and moved my car over to the north side and started trying doors until I found one that opened.
I headed inside to the Disney store which was also not open until 10.
Now I had a choice, wait until 10 and make my trip worthwhile or come back another day.
I didn't really dare leave because I wasn't sure I'd find another Elsa.
I decided to call my 10 a.m. appointment and get a delay except my phone was not in my purse. I figured I left it in my car.
So I went out and in the north door once more
No phone in my car. Apparently I had I left it home.
I returned to the Disney store. Now I only had about 15 minutes to wait so I stood there with a growing, restless crowd.
We watched while the sales clerks inside ignored us. I would have considered giving it up but I could see my prize just inside.
We waited somewhat patiently.
Finally, it was 10! But no one came to open the store.
At 10:05, a lady rolled a table up to the door and hung up red ropes to cordon off the doorway.
"What's the magic word?" she chirped at us.
The small children in our crowd looked at her in silence.
"Please?" one said.
"Nope, guess again!" said the saleslady cheerfully.
"Mickey?" guessed one mom holding an unhappy baby.
"Nope! What's a magic word that will open the store?" she said. "Think hard!"
"Abbracadabbra!" I whispered to the little kid.
He repeated the word and like magic the lights went on and the lady moved the box. It was wonderful.
We all rushed in and I grabbed my Elsa doll. I paid for it, sacked it and borrowed the store phone to call my appointment.
I was 20 minutes late but hurray, I accomplished my mission. I'm the proud owner of yet another Elsa doll and I'm done chasing Frozen ware!
I love the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.
At least I thought I did.
I just didn't really know who they were.
I have a CD of their Christmas music I play over and over from Halloween through to New Year's and beyond.
I have my favorites that I put on "repeat" and listen to at full volume when I'm in the car or home alone: "Christmas Canon Rock," "O Come All Ye Faithful," "Boughs of Holly."
I just love what I thought was a choir boy singing his heart out.
So when Marc and I got the opportunity to attend their concert in the Energy Solutions Center Wednesday evening, we jumped at the chance.
It was short notice but we rearranged our schedule to be in our seats for the show with bells on! And what we found was a visual treat with fire heating up the stage, real snow falling on us, moving towers that carried a couple of the band members high above us and plenty of rocking out rhythm.
I luxuriated in the sights and sounds and bathed in the energy they radiate.
I was interested to "meet the band" with their electric guitars, their flowing hair and their big smiles as they worked the audience and charmed the houseful of fans.
The only thing that set me back a bit (and I realize I shouldn't have been surprised) is the fact that the Trans-Siberian Orchestra is actually a heavy metal band that plays rock Christmas music.
Why was that a revelation to me?
Maybe there's a clue in the tracks I routinely skip when I listen to my CD. I thoroughly enjoy the instrumentals but I mostly skip the vocals.
So when the second half of the three-hour concert turned to more raucous and invigorating music sung by sweaty guys in leather, they kind of lost me.
I also would have preferred less story, less heavy rock and more of the familiar numbers.
But I'm the first to admit, this grandma is a little dated in her musical tastes and probably is not the best judge of this kind of fare.
People all around us were in heaven while I kind of plugged my ears at one point.
Even so, it was a thoroughly entertaining evening and I'm hauling out the CD to play while I write this!