Well, it finally happened. My cellphone died. I know, I know, it sounds like a “first world problem,” but I joined the ranks of cord-cutters and gave up my landline (and cable) years ago …
Well, it finally happened. My cellphone died. I know, I know, it sounds like a “first world problem,” but I joined the ranks of cord-cutters and gave up my landline (and cable) years ago to save money. Cellphones ain’t cheap, but I am, so I’ve been buying used and refurbished phones for years and sadly, they don’t last long.
“You get what you pay for,” my mother would say, and her voice rang in my head as I attempted to call the Sullivan County Dramatic Workshop for information about their latest production, “Every Christmas Story Ever Told—And Then Some!”
Unable to make a connection, I was forced to contact producer Heather Strauss the old-fashioned way, via email, to request seats for me and the pooch.
“Isn’t it a little early for a holiday show?” I asked Heather in my note.
“It’s Christmas in July!” she responded with a ho, ho, ho. “Where have you been?”
“Probably in Hebrew school,” I replied meekly, while feverishly typing “Christmas in July” on the keyboard, knowing that the Google wouldn’t let me down. As I also searched for fantastic deals on new cell phones—those deals don’t exist—I learned plenty about the midsummer salute to the fat man.
According to the internet, Christmas in July was first celebrated at a summer camp in 1933, when Keystone Camp in Brevard, NC, decided to dedicate two days in July to the holiday, complete with cotton fake snow, a decked-out tree, a gift exchange and, of course, Santa. “I never thought it was unique to us,” Page Ives Lemel, the current director of the camp said in an interview with Southern Living magazine. “It seems like something other camps would do.”
According to their 100th-anniversary book, the first time anyone celebrated “Christmas in July” was at Keystone, per the request of camp co-founder Fannie Holt.
Reading further, I learned that “the first Christmas in July included carolers, and as the tradition evolved, campers would use laundry bags as makeshift stockings, which they placed outside their cabins, to be filled with candy overnight. Eventually elves, reindeer and Mrs. Claus joined the act, along with a camp-wide gift exchange, counselors included.”
“Who knew?” I asked the dog, who appeared blasé about the subject altogether. Meanwhile, the play, written by Michael Carleton, James FitzGerald and John K. Alvarez, is described as a “madcap romp” featuring three performers (Julia Kehrley, Lynne Porter and Harold Tighe) who exhaust themselves zipping around on stage as they breathlessly recount “every Christmas story ever told, plus [holiday] traditions from around the world.”
No mean feat, but the trio sorta-kinda made it work, with Kehrley shining as the glue (IMHO) holding the others together. By that point, my defunct phone was only good for reading the program, and by the dim glow of its fading screen, I realized that it was nothing more than an expensive flashlight.
Once home, I went back to the computer and sent an email to Cousin Andy. He was planning to drive from Binghamton with his wife, Nancy, to meet Dharma for brunch and cruise through the classic car show. The show was held last Sunday at the Loch Sheldrake firehouse.
Presented by the “Any Make - Any Model Car Club,” the event promised trophies galore and a 50/50, raffles, food and music. Reminding them that Christmas was still months away, I suggested they arrive early (no food, no music) to beat the heat.
“We’ll call you when we’re a few miles away,” Andy responded.
“Good luck with that,” I replied. “My phone is dead in the water.”
“See what you get for mocking my flip phone?” he chided. “At least it works!”
We met, cruised and schmoozed with Dharma in her stroller (don’t judge!) to protect her little paws from the scorching pavement. It was fun admiring the cars, trucks and the occasional jalopy, many of which were very, very cool. “This one belongs to my wife, Joanne,” Dave Kellermeyer told me as I snapped pics of their gorgeous 1947 Dodge WC. “I have 21 vehicles at home,” he said, “but she wanted one to call her own.”
We didn’t stay for the awards, but something tells me that Joanne snagged a nice prize.
To take my mind off my first-world problem, classic-car-enthusiast Cousin Andy entertained me with facts and figures regarding the myriad of vehicles we had seen, some with “metal-flake” paint jobs glinting in the searing sun. Nodding sullenly, I silently vowed to give in and purchase a brand-new phone, praying my carrier offered a monthly plan to match my low-rent budget.
As for Christmas in July? The Google informs me that “the tradition carries on to this day, and blistering-hot southern summers have yet to stop the camp’s tradition—now they simply go for a dip in the lake post-presents.”
P.S. My new state-of-the-art phone arrived a few hours ago, and after charging it up, I typed “Hanukkah in August” into the search bar. Nothin’.
Then I called Cousin Andy. “Can you hear me now? I asked.
“Yes, yes I can,” he answered. “But I still would have gone for a flip phone.”
For more information regarding the Sullivan County Dramatic Workshop, go to www.scdw.net.
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