Five good things from the Christmas Fair!

Wow, what a handsome header image that is. “He worked really hard, Grandma.”

If you read me back on X-E, you know all about this Christmas fair. The one with the “basket raffles.” I’ve gone to this church-hosted Christmas fair every year for as long as I can remember. It can be a cruel mistress, but I just can’t imagine a holiday season without it.

“Cruel mistress?” Yeah, seriously. The reason I didn’t write about the fair last year is because it totally dicked me over. I must’ve blown a week’s pay on raffle tickets, not because I was dying for any of the prizes, but because the thought of breaking my win streak was emotionally crippling. Not good for a guy who perpetually lives on the brink, fearing the faintest of winds.

I went completely overboard, shoving twenty or more tickets into raffle bags that otherwise had no more than five. I intentionally aimed for junky prizes just to guarantee victory.

Well, it didn’t happen. The streak was broken, and with it, my last remaining ties to the church. I was convinced that those raffles had been rigged. When 75 bucks’ worth of raffle tickets can’t win you 20 bucks’ worth of NY Aquarium passes, SOMETHING IS WRONG.

But one bad experience should not ruin a lifelong tradition, so tonight, I went back. Took it easy on the raffles, though. Fool me twice.

Here are five good things from this year’s Christmas fair:

#1: Santa & Mrs. Claus do the Gangnam Style dance.

Look close, and you’ll spot everyone’s favorite couple on stage, doing the Gangnam Style dance.

There’s always music playing at these fairs, but it’s usually Christmas music. This year, I guess someone switched the dial from 106.7 to Z100, because I’d barely had a chance to grumble about “kids today” before an unseen MC instructed the Clauses to get up there and shake what their mudders gave ’em.

The whole place stopped and stared. You might imagine that the sight of Mr. and Mrs. Claus dancing would’ve invited everyone to adopt a “party attitude,” but it was more like we were witnessing the world’s longest car crash. Nobody knew what to do, even if all of us agreed that something needed to be done.

Six hours later, the song ended, and we went back to browsing cookies and incense holders. A total “let’s collectively pretend that never happened” moment.

Screw that. I will NEVER forget.

#2: The Ninja Turtles Raffle Basket.

In the past, I never would’ve written one of these “fair reviews” until I knew the outcome of the raffle drawings. After last year’s experience, I’m not even going to pretend that there’s hope. I did toss some $1 tickets into this basket’s corresponding bag, but that was only because it was an excellent cover for my top secret mission to photograph it.

It was my favorite prize basket at the fair. Even better than the one that came with a Furby and a Furby-themed schoolbag. Even better than the serving dish with scratch-off cards taped all over it. Even better than the other serving dish with scratch-off cards taped all over it. (Apparently, those are big in 2012.)

Of course, now that I’m sitting here staring at the photo, I’m starting to wonder if maybe, just maybe…

NO. I can’t do this to myself. Not again. You’re NOT going to win the basket of Ninja Turtles, Matt. Nobody is calling you. Nobody is saying your name into a microphone. Just stop.

#3: The ridiculous $4 brownie-cake-thing.

Technically, the fair isn’t held in a church. I knew it as a church growing up, but now it’s just a Catholic school. That goes a long way in explaining the “GO TEAM” pennants glued to all of the walls. Priests don’t play that.

Every year, the students of this school bake gobs of goodies to sell at the Christmas fair. I’ve long been an admirer of their cupcakes, because even with hundreds of them, no two are identical, and each has triple the frosting and accoutrements that any cupcake should reasonably hold.

Sadly, they were out of cupcakes by the time we got there. Instead, I bought this giant iced brownie, which, on a stretch, sorta/kinda resembles a giant cupcake. It cost four dollars and had enough thumbprints to make me think twice about ever eating it. Still, holy cow, does it ever scream “CHRISTMASSSSSS.”

#4: This mangerless manger scene.

Awesome, just awesome. This was outside, of course, but it was also outside in the weirdest place. The only people who would ever come upon it were people like me. Specifically, people who wanted cigarettes if they were going to spend 20 minutes writing their names and phone numbers onto enormous strands of raffle tickets.

I don’t even know what you’d call it. It’s not a nativity scene, or a manger scene. It’s just a ragtag bunch of animals – animals that don’t even share a scale – randomly strewn over a bed of hay. The statues were pretty beat up, and all of the animals just had the saddest faces.

I’m not religious, but I have to draw the line at stealing phony lambs from a church. But man, I wanted to. Those lambs deserved warmth and compassion.

#5: Individually-wrapped Dick Tracy trading cards WHAT.

Don’t let their age fool you. I can confirm beyond any shadow of a doubt that 1990’s Dick Tracy trading cards are virtually worthless. Yet, here they were, individually-wrapped, on sale for a buck a pop.

There are always old “collectible” toys at these fairs, but in terms of value and popularity, they all break bread at the bottom of the barrel. The only aberration was the time I found a 99% complete Fireball Island there for five bucks.

But good God, this year REALLY blew. They had nothing. I can usually count on some old “Battle Trolls” figures to rear their poofy heads, but this year? I say with all sincerity that the individually-wrapped Dick Tracy cards were the shining stars.

And it’s for that reason that I’m now the proud owner of this:

(They had no Flattops or Itchys left.)

Now I must go sit next to the phone, waiting for a call that will never come, all while eyeing a mutant cake that I know I shouldn’t eat.

Christmas…you came back to me!