January 4, 2014

Waiting for The Holly

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Finally this story can be told.  It should be said at once that the whole business is anti-climactic, but I am going ahead with it.  It begins shortly after Thanksgiving Day when Gwen my neighbor who knows something about just about everything and I were planning our Christmas debauchery, to include a movie, a chicken, mince pie and whiskey.

It was the movie that was under deliberation.  I mentioned a movie I had seen in the 1960s on television that had stayed with me.  For the past ten years I have periodically checked to see if it was available on DVD.  It’s a 1950s English film called The Holly and the Ivy, starring Ralph Richardson (who steals every scene he’s in), Celia Johnson, Margaret Leighton, and a very young baby-faced Denholm Elliot who at the beginning of the movie is denied 48 hours leave to go home for Christmas and I personally think that is why he always played such embittered characters in later life.  It was that beastly sergeant-major.

But I am getting ahead of myself.  All I remembered about the movie from the 60s was that it was Christmasy, English village-y, (fake)snowy, and that one of the daughters was a bad girl, something I would have liked to have been in my teens, but couldn’t pull off.  I found some obscure references to the movie and sent the links to Gwen who did the advanced research that only Gwen can do.  She actually found it available from a little business in California that called itself Santa Flicks, and that apparently guaranteed your Christmas movie.  She ordered it!

Five days before Christmas, it hadn’t arrived.

“Did you tell them we wanted it for Christmas?” I asked Gwen.

 “Yes, I said it was our Christmas entertainment.”

 “But did you tell them this was our dying sister’s last Christmas?”

 “You know I can’t lie.”

By the 22th Gwen and I were signing our e-mails “Fingers crossed.” To no avail.  The movie didn’t come on the 23rd.  It didn’t come on the 24th.  On Christmas Day I made Gwen find Dylan Thomas reading “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” on YouTube.  Not the version with Denholm Elliot.  As noted above, he isn’t convincing as a warm sort.

On Dec. 26 Gwen sent an email to Santa Flicks that was so strongly worded for a person from Wisconsin that out of respect for her privacy, not to mention her image, I won’t reproduce it.  But the gist of it was she wanted to know what the hell had happened to The Disc as we now began calling it, Christmas being completely over with.

Santa Flicks came back with the tracking number and the information that the order was shipped with Two-Day service.  The tracking information revealed that The Disc had gone out on Christmas Eve with the expectation that it would arrive on what, Christmas Day?  That would be Santa Service, and neither of us has a chimney.  Maybe that’s why it wasn’t delivered.  Actually I have a chimney, but it’s for a wood stove that’s very small.  The model is called The Leprechaun.  Room for one elf with a DVD.

The tracking information also revealed that The Disc had traveled from Encino to Santa Clarita, California, then to Washington where it had been processed in Federal Way, had been sorted in Seattle, and had turned around gone south to Kent.  For those readers who don’t know the geography of the west coast, the travels of The Disc describes a shepherd’s crook: it made a long journey north to within a few miles of Gwen’s address, looped around and went south.

On Dec 28 there began a series of late afternoon e-mails between Gwen and me. Let me set this up: The mail truck sorts mail at Gwen’s hoity-toity secure group mail box at the end of the block.  It cruises by my house and delivers mail to everyone on the south side of my street, loops back and delivers my mail.  When I see the truck go by my house I know that Gwen’s mail has been delivered and that I have five minutes to mail a letter from my box. 

Dec 28
Elena: Mail’s here.

Gwen: Nothing. 

Dec 30
Elena: Mail’s here

Gwen: I checked. Not there. It’s either heading back to Encino to be re-shipped north or it’s in some eternal loop.

Dec 31
Elena: Mail’s here.

Gwen: I just checked tracking. The Disc is back in L.A.  Santa Flicks has shipped a new one as a first class package.

Jan 2
Elena: Mail’s here.

(This time the routine was varied by the excitement of my actually seeing Gwen trek out to her mailbox a few minutes after getting my e-mail.)

Gwen: Nope

Elena: I suppose you checked to make sure they had the correct address, maybe even the correct city?

Gwen: Long ago.

Jan 3:
Elena: Mail’s here

Gwen: It’s HERE!  It says Fragile and Rush all over its padded package.  That probably held it up a few days. I think it makes people want to stomp on it.  But I won’t watch it til you have time to enjoy it with me.

Elena: 6:30 tonight?

So we finally saw our Christmas movie.  I had too much Scotch, dozed off and missed the part where the bad girl is forgiven.


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