Well, it’s Christmas time in Oklahoma…and I do mean CHRISTMAS time, not holiday time. If you foolishly assume that not everyone celebrates Christmas here in the Beautiful Buckle of the Bible Belt and, like the crazy liberal you are, you wish someone Happy Holidays, a surprising number of people have no problem correcting you in a rather superior tone. “Merry CHRISTMAS!” they assure you.
It’s terribly jolly, make no mistake.
And nothing says Christmas like the annual small town $10,000 Jingle Bell drawing! Opie and I attended this extravaganza on Saturday…one of us brimming with confidence and optimism and the other grumbling about crowds and longing for an afternoon of beer drinking and hockey viewing (I will let you all decide which was which!)
But I get ahead of myself as some of you are probably wondering what the heck the Jingle Bell drawing is. It’s actually very simple. From November 13th until December 13th a variety of local merchants hand out these little raffle tickets when you purchase something from them. Then, on the last Saturday before Christmas Eve, there is a drawing in the town square in which they give away two $500 prizes, two $1,000 prizes and one $10, 000 prize. The only catch is that you have to be present to win.
So, I’ve been collecting tickets every time I go to the grocery store and convinced Opie that we had to go. See, I was expecting a Christmas fair type atmosphere….I was expecting merchants to have stands, I was expecting entertainments, I was expecting an EVENT.
What I got was about 3,000 people standing around the town square holding fistfuls of raffle tickets while a couple of enterprising high school students meandered through the crowd selling candy bars they had clearly purchased in bulk from Sam’s Club.
Which is not to say that I wasn’t entertained. I mean, I had a hysterical time nudging Opie and discreetly pointing out the various and sundry wildlife…like the heavily pierced and tattooed biker guy who was holding a tiny sweater-wearing Pomeranian. Or the surprising number of women wearing famous QVC “Bump up the Pony” hair extensions that didn’t match the rest of their hair…not to mention the man that Opie was convinced was wearing a “Bump up the Beard” hair extension clipped to his cheeks. Or the little group I called the denim family in which all four of the females (mother and three daughters) were wearing ankle length denim skirts with oversized sweatshirts that said “Go Kiefer Trojans!”
I really REALLY hope that’s a sports team.
But my favorite group was the little huddle of people directly behind Opie and I who spent a surprising amount of time mocking the woman announcing the raffle numbers for saying “Y’all.” Which surprised me a little since I have been y’alled about a thousand times since I moved here. And then, after eavesdropping closely, I realized they didn’t care about the word “y’all” they cared that SHE was saying y’all. Apparently she is some sort of TV personality in the Tulsa area and she clearly does NOT say y’all on the nightly news. So, for her to dash over to our small town and start y’alling like a local is insulting to say the very least.
In the words of the city kids I used to work with, she was clearly fronting.
After years of being in charge of Conflict Mediation, I know that an appropriate reaction to this kind of behavior is to rush the stage screaming “You ain’t representing!” over and over….but I didn’t want to get kicked off the square because, as I mentioned earlier, you have to be present to win.
And this was before Opie and I realized that we had NO BUSINESS thinking we had any chance of winning the Jingle Bell drawing. See, I had collected twenty-three different tickets and there were about 3,000 people there. I thought we had as good a chance as anyone.
Our twenty-three tickets was like a teaspoon in the ocean of tickets. I mean, we could easily hold our tickets in one hand. Most people there had HUNDREDS of tickets. A man next to us had a poster board with tickets in sequential order glued to both sides. Another woman had a Ziplock baggie full of tickets in one hand and a full printed page listing the numbers in the other. Another woman had a binder with album pages holding all her tickets.
It was unbelievable.
And we didn’t win…not this year….but next year I’m going to plan early. I’m going to refuse to go into a business in town unless they support the Jingle Bell drawing. I’m going to go to the grocery store and buy items one at a time, collecting tickets each time. And, if that doesn’t work, I’m going to take a lesson from the enterprising teens in the crowd and I’m going to wander around selling candy for three times the normal going cost.
It’s going to be awesome.