The Fantasy of Christmas
Let me start by saying I love Christmas. I am not a Grinch. Ever since I was a little boy, it’s been my favorite holiday of the year.
“What was that?” Pat asked as the tree dropped past the kitchen window.
“That’d be Mike getting rid of the tree in his room,” answered my mother.
“Your son had a tree in his room?”
“Yup. A full 8′, decorated Christmas tree. Now that it’s petrified, it’s gone.”
“But you just took down the tree in your kitchen, living room, and foyer. How many trees did you have?”
“Four. We had four Christmas trees this year. All live.”
Pat just looked at my mom like she was crazy. Who has four live Christmas trees? And, what 12 year old has a full size tree in their small bedroom?
Every year, I watch the weather. As the clock ticks down to Christmas Eve, I just know it’s going to snow. How cool would it be to finally have a White Christmas? A Courier and Ives, sleigh ride through the candle lit streets, choirs singing behind stained glass windows, Christmas.
But in 45 years, it’s never happened. Usually it’s warm. Sometimes rainy.
And that makes me wonder about the difference between the Fantasy of Christmas and the Reality of Christmas. Maybe all these years, all these dreaming of snow and mistletoe years, I’ve been duped by slick marketing?
For many Christmas Days, Matthew and I traveled. We went to Egypt on Christmas Day. Athens, too. So, the day itself slipped by under my radar — I was too thrilled to be travelling to worry about packages tied up with string being a few of my favorite things.
But this year, we are home — we’ll be travelling to Rome in February. And, as I shot the holiday party for one of my oldest clients, the feeling of being a victim of brilliant marketing just kept GNAWING.
Every year, we do a couple of Santa shoots. Yes, Santa. A deluxe version of what’s at the mall. I confess, I try to love it. but it’s tough. The one shoot is great — it’s for an old client in a swanky Baltimore club. But the other? Mamma Mia!
They both feature kids on Santa’s lap and families with Santa. But the one Santa is a challenge; the other ideal. The challenged Santa wasn’t really cut out to be Santa. I mean, he looks like Santa. Beard. Suit. Rotund. But, he keeps an eye on his watch. He YAWNS. He has a slight smell of moth balls. The other Santa? Why, he is a saint. A true Saint Nick. The photos below feature the Sainted Santa. The other Santa will remain obscured.
And that’s what got me wondering between the Fantasy of Christmas and the Reality of Christmas. These two Santas. Good Santa and Bad Santa. Good kids and bad kids. Good Michael and Bad Michael.
Let me illustrate. Here’s what we dream about for the holidays, the perfect setting, the perfect kid, the perfect everything:
And here’s what is usually our reality:
Travel is a lot like this. People look at me all the time and say, “OH YOU ARE SOOOO LUCKY. YOU GET TO SEE THE WORLD AS PART OF YOUR JOB.”
And, yes, I am lucky. But have we been given a marketing snow job when it comes to hotels, too? I remember sitting in the JW Marriott Orlando Lakes with my mom. It’s probably THE best hotel in Orlando, top of the food chain. But…
You entered, and there was a bathroom on the right. Then two double beds. A window with nice drapes. A dresser. A flat screen television. A coffee maker.
Ehhhh-em. I gotta say: it isn’t much different than the La Quinta. It just isn’t. True, everything is newer. And the property is beautiful. But, really, the rooms are identical. And, remember, it was at the World’s Suckiest 5 Star Hotel where my cameras were stolen — another JW Marriott in another city.
Here’s the fantasy 5 Star Hotel Room, JW Marriott Orlando Lakes: