Deck the (July) Halls

This week I found myself at Olive Garden, that ubiquitous family style restaurant. I’m chalking it up to the ’11 blizzards.

In Groton, we’d had a run of days topping out around 101 degrees. With only partial house air-conditioning–meaning one room cooled for the dogs during the day and bedroom cooled for nighttime–there was no way in heck that anything was getting fired up in the house. Not even the microwave. Inspiration hit.

Back in the heart of winter, foot upon foot of snow piled up. We have a snowblower; our neighbors do not. Every time my sweet husband cleared our driveway (yes I help too) he would scoot across our narrow street and blast a clearing for Kirk and Lynette. As the snow receded around April, Kirk handed us an envelope with, you guessed it, a thank-you gift card to Olive Garden.  So in the heat of summer, when we needed a little pick-me-up off the molten mess of a summer floor, there was the answer.

At the Nashua, NH Olive Garden, we worked our way around three families waiting on queue and snagged stools at the bar. When the waiter brought our drinks and that first chilly slurp of gin and tonic went down, I realized that I had needed a little Christmas. Right that very moment.  The cool air. Families buzzing in conversation. Food that was maybe too heavy but comforting. And the sweet feeling that comes from an unexpected gift.

We came home to find that our Christmas cactus, a plant with a mind of its own, was blooming on the back patio. If you’ve never seen the Christmas scene from Auntie Mame , it’s worth watching. Film fans will insist that only the Rosalind Russell version will do, but I’m feeling generous and think that Lucille Ball’s was okay too. The story has bill collectors at the door, all going wrong so Mame decides to boost their spirits. In no time, she has the family cavorting around, decorating a tree and feeling festive.

It’s not a bad idea at all, now that I’m getting in the mood. I’m tempted to get out the lights, toss some tinsel, wrap some of the presents I’ve stowed away for December. Stockings?

Haven’t you ever wanted Christmas in July?

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