Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Retail Therapy

So the second trip to Charlotte this week was the realization of an obsession that began on Saturday. The mysterious and tantalizing name "Southern Christmas Show" called to me. I've been telling Michael and everyone who will listen that I intend to have an old-fashioned Southern Christmas this year. The only problem is that I have no idea what that means. So I was hoping an event called the Southern Christmas Show would illuminate things.

I read in the Sunday paper that a local church group was taking a busload of folks to the event on Tuesday, and I was very, very tempted to hop on board. After all, they were offering a continental breakfast on the bus! But part of my reason for going back to Charlotte was to stop at Trader Joe's and stock up on Black Mountain Vineyards wine, and I didn't think a busload of people would take a detour just for me. If you haven't discovered Black Mountain yet, it's the best $5.99 wine you'll ever taste. We took it for granted when we had a dozen Trader Joe's stores in our backyard. Now, when the closest is two hours away, we stock up like crazy people preparing for a blizzard.

Before I could go wine hoarding, I was anxious to explore the Southern Christmas Show. It cost $9 to get in, and the demographic was clearly elderly and female. But I didn't care. I was there to learn, to absorb and observe. It did not disappoint. I happily stood in line to buy ornaments and cheerfully studied tree after tree of carefully themed designs. There were loads of vendors offering the latest in Christmas crafts and decorations and lights and holly as far as the eye could see. However, there were a few missteps. There is a fine line between festive and garish, and the line was erased and redrawn many, many times. I tried to imagine incorporating peacock feathers and cowboy hats in my decor, but decided to stay focused on our mid-century meets Edward Gorey theme in all black and silver. I found a handful of black ornaments to add to our collection and some potpourri so strong it made my eyes water. Everyone was very friendly and full of holiday spirit, and it wasn't difficult to start humming along with the carols playing everywhere.

Flush with the Christmas spirit, I decided to go to the mall for a fix. Asheville has a lot of shopping, but I miss my Macy's, Restoration Hardware and Pottery Barn. Luckily, I have this weird navigational sixth sense. I can enter any strange city and find a shopping mall almost instantly. I first discovered this gift with toy stores. I could stand in the street and know which way to go to find Toys R Us. I'm like a superhero. So I quickly found the fabulous South Park Mall and was thrilled to discover they had a Nordstrom's and a Crate & Barrel. I had a great time just strolling around, window shopping and feeling like I was back in a big city again. In Los Angeles, you all walk by Sur la Table, never imagining what life might be like without one! When I saw it listed on the mall directory, I almost wept.

I finally made it to Trader Joe's and filled my basket with cheap, but delicious wine. Then, trying not to look like a gigantic lush, I threw in a box of crackers before veering noisily towards the checkout. It was a beautiful and festive day, and it was nice to get away and not think about anything more serious than finding a black cow ornament. It's not difficult to throw myself into the holiday season and turn it into the sort of out-of-control mess they make holiday specials and movies about. I mean, I always sided with Lucy in the Charlie Brown special. Why not have a big pink aluminum Christmas tree, Charlie Brown? Who wants a stupid little twig? I think the people at the Southern Christmas Show would agree.

4 comments: said...

I love it! I am totally Southern - born and raised in SC, lived in GA and now NC (altho truly Asheville is NOT Southern except geographically) - and I can't think what would be a Southern Xmas. Fruitcake. Stockings for Santa to fill (no matter your age). Red bows everywhere. Traditional green wreath on the door.
What else did you learn from the show in Charlotte that makes a Southern Xmas?

Chance said...

I got the feeling that an old-fashioned Southern Christmas requires more handmade and homespun charm than I'm capable of. I'm off to Dollywood in a couple of weeks, so I will do more research there!

mallerymc said...

That sounds like MY KIND OF DAY! I'm jealous!! :D

Jeremy said...

What a great post! I hear Speedway in Lights at the NASCAR track in Bristol is pretty awesome, too, so if you all want to check it out, let's plan a trip!