I'm embarking on a journey for the next twenty-odd days or so for which Mother Nature seems to have given some tacit approval. I woke up this morning to make my husband breakfast - at four in the morning - before he flew to Las Vegas for the week on a business conference. I looked outside while I toasted his bagel.
That's not a euphemism, by the way. Did you think I'd be flipping omelets at four in the morning? I'm a fairly nice guy, but I'm no saint.
What I saw outside the window was snow. It snowed here last night, and Ottawa looks pretty Christmas out there.
"I hate Christmas," Keelie Cannon said, flinging herself into a chair at the table in Bennigan's where she'd agreed to meet her friends.
Christmas is a mixed bag when you work retail. On the one hand, it's the busiest and most important time of the year. It's literally make it or break it time for stores, and you're very aware of that. Long hours, high stress levels (from both customers and staff) and a non-stop go-go-go. On the other hand, that go-go-go leaves you nothing for your ho-ho-ho and - like Keelie in the first chapter of this awesome book - you're pretty much ready for it to just be the heck over already so you can get your life back. Also your brain wattage, which is operating on about half if you're lucky.
Enjoying Christmas itself? Difficult, at best. When you're in this sort of job, you have to find ways to make the holiday enjoyable again. I have traditions that have formed over the last mumble-mumble years that help me do that. One is the donning of the jingle socks and the decorating of the Christmas tree, with the ornaments collected year by year. Another is a re-read of "A Christmas Carol" (followed by the Alastair Sim version of the movie - in black and white, not colourized). A third became a re-read of A Coventry Christmas after the first time I bumped into the book.
Keelie Cannon is an assistant manager at a chain bookstore who is about to get a walloping dose of Christmas magic. Being a manager at a chain bookstore, I found settling into Keelie's life easy. Also, I want the magic.
Usually, this third tradition of re-reading A Coventry Christmas is an affair involving a hot chocolate (a rare thing for me, since too much chocolate equals a headache), a blanket, and a day off. This year, I'm partnering up with two other booksellers - Stickabutter and Johnniecakes - and we're going to take a more leisurely stroll through the book, a chapter a day. I'm normally a book gobbler. This may make me a wee bit antsy, and I'll probably cheat, but I promise to only discuss a chapter at a time.
If you haven't read A Coventry Christmas, I hope these entries will entice you. I realize the book isn't as in-print as I'd like it to be (I'd personally like it to be on the New York Times Bestsellers list, with a giant sticker on the front that says "Voted 'Goddamn RIGHT!' by Booksellers Everywhere!") but I promise it's worth the hunt.
And on that note...
Chapter the First (Meeting Keelie, Admitting I'm an Idiot, and Giggling over Shrinkage
We meet Keelie Cannon as she manages to hook up with friends for a lunch break at her super-busy mall in the midst of the Christmas shopping season. Said friends are Evan, her fun gay thirty-something friend with magic stylist scissors, Holly, mother of two boys whose birthday is Christmas, and - a bit later - Ivy, Holly's twin sister, who works in publishing and split from her fiance earlier in the year.
Coveted Coventry moments:
I mentioned I was going to admit I was an idiot, didn't I? Okay, here it is. Holly mentions her birthday is Christmas. Her twin sister is Ivy. Holly and Ivy, twins born on Christmas. So cute - and obvious - right?
Yeah. Took me three reads through of this novel to notice (I think I realized last year). Like I said: Half-watt retail brain.
Tomorrow, Chapter two...