Dec 18, 2010

Our Soon-To-Be-Ida-Home

We will be spending Christmas Day at the home of my parents here in Southern California. On the 30th of December, I will be driving from California to Idaho accompanied by our 2 sons. My husband should be joining us with the U-Haul by January 10th.

I am posting from a borrowed apartment with rain splattering the windows. The apartment is directly below a landing path for the Long Beach Airport, so airplanes sound startling close. Christmas ambiance is being provided by the Hallmark Channel. Our necessities are in boxes that surround our beds and all else is in public storage.

Meanwhile, Barry (my hubby) is sitting by a pot bellied stove in Idaho City, Idaho: elevation 3,906 feet. He is enjoying a fully decorated Christmas tree in a gorgeous home covered by snowfall. And, he is being lavished by the hospitality of our dear friend, Danny.

Barry flew up to Boise on Friday to meet with his new boss and to "spy out the land," as Joyce Mahan worded it. He's never been to Idaho, so this truly is an adventure that has him laughing and chattering with boyish enthusiasm.

Via telephone, he described the herds of deer; the church we would be attending; his first mom-and-pop breakfast; and the layout of Idaho City, an old gold mining town. He cautioned me that I would need studded tires driving from Boise up into the mountain communities. (I silently wondered if he would still be flying home tomorrow.)

A few days ago, Danny asked me if I was born and raised in California. I replied with a smidgen of pride, "Yes, I am!" Danny quickly answered, "Don't tell anybody." Hence, my husband has already pinpointed the nearest Sheriff's Station so that I can take the written driver's test and immediately dress my car in Idaho plates.

And, as if landing a job on his first effort OR already having a place to stay as we forge a fresh start in Idaho isn't enough, Barry had an epiphany with Danny's neighbors. They popped by for a visit. As Barry introduced himself, he discovered that they hail from the farm community of Hamburg, Pennsylvania which is located about 20 miles north of Reading, PA . . . BARRY'S HOMETOWN! Surely, this was a sign!

Dec 14, 2010

"It's the hap-happiest season of all..."

When Chase Bank merged with WaMu (Washington Mutual) here in California, one immediate change was startling. During previous Christmas seasons at the La Habra Branch, the bank's interior had been bustling with colorful decorations and a festive mood. While the changeover was commencing, only poinsettias were allowed. Nothing was permitted the following year.

When I visited a Long Beach Chase branch yesterday, the surrounding neighborhood was festooned with lights, garland, and iconic symbols. I had just finished singing Christmas hits with a 24/7 radio station in my car. 

Inside, I was greeted by engaging employees. The newly remodeled branch was elegant and streamlined, obviously with the intent that nothing but business would interface with its appearance. They chose not to install an audio system, so any type of music was impossible.

It was clear to me that the powers that be had made no provision for Christmas. On an impulse, I pulled out my iPhone and navigated to the 711 Christmas songs in my iTunes app. Within moments, Andy Williams was singing It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. The handsome young man helping me grinned broadly. A female employee, her eyes twinkling, peeked over the top of the cubicle and announced, "I love Christmas music!" Other staff members nodded approval and customers responded warmly as I exited the bank.

What is the corporate world afraid of? If yesterday is any indication of how a little celebration can produce a cheerful atmosphere in a banking institution, then I would think business could only benefit from it. Certainly, the staff was exemplary. Nevertheless, the stark contrast between a world in the throes of Christmas frolic and a sanitized bank is not easy to ignore.