Monday, December 29, 2008

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year...

Yup. It's a holiday classic, isn't it? Andy Williams warbling his way through "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year." The song was recorded before I was born and has played every year since.

Let me tell you about the last time I heard it. It was about five days ago. I was in an elf costume about to do a show in a downtown restaurant. There were, of course, two significant things figuring into my particular situation at that moment:

1) A six foot tall guy lugging sound equipment and magic props through downtown streets invariably attracts well as the odd rude comment and/or slack-jawed stare, which is why I make a point of whistling Jingle Bells REAL loud.

2) Since it was -28, I really just wanted to stay in the car. Where it was warm. And strangers don't point and laugh. And a cold wind doesn't freeze the important stuff under my tunic -- which, come to think of it, is a really stupid notion for "clothing to give someone who lives at the North Pole." (I suspect Santa gives his little people tunics to ensure they stay inside.)

But it is being a magician and special events fella at Christmas time that enables my wife and me to hit the TRULY "Most Wonderful Time of the Year." I am speaking specifically about that golden period between Christmas and New Year.

What makes this time of year so special?

It's the time when the work is done and Sheree and I are joyfully getting ready for our Big January Trip. It's what I look forward to throughout the Christmas season. Last year we were off to Australia and New Zealand. It was a classic. We met wonderful people, took great photos and did some serious travelling. (I see a tremendous difference, by the way, between "travel" and "vacation." Vacationers rest. Travel isn't restful. It's an experience that takes you to places you'll never see sleeping in or grazing a buffet. Travel makes you tired...and happy...and, well, awed.)

In two short days, both of us get on a plane to Fort Lauderdale -- and will board a cruise ship bound ultimately for the Amazon River and Manaus -- deep inside Brazil.

THIS is one of the best parts of the trip. This is when we pack up clothes and photography equipment. My wife makes lists. It's when I ask her if everything on the list is really necessary. She just sighs and continues packing.

It's when we buy colorful money from a nation we've never been to, because we are going's when we both feel a joyful anticipation over where we are going and who we will meet, the places we'll see and the food we'll eat.

I LOVE this part. I really do. It's the difference between being a kid and looking in anticipation at the glittering tree and being that same kid on Christmas afternoon, after the presents have been unwrapped and all the mysterious rattles revealed. We are, right now, in that happy travel state of having no idea what's going to happen...with the whole trip before us.

Why am I telling you all this stuff?

Because I'd like you to come along. Here's my proposal: let's take the trip together. I'll take pictures and think hard about how to tell you about the things we see and the people we meet. And I will send you blogs at every possible location...every day if I can.

Yup. It's true that I get to do the fun parts. (Which is only fair since, y'know, I was the guy in the elf suit freezing his bells off to pay for this trip.) But I'd really like to share this with you.

So get out your sun screen and a trashy novel. Reserve a deck chair near the pool and consider yourself invited along on a cruise to ports we've never heard of, down the Amazon River and finishing everything up with a few days poking around Key West, Florida.

How does that sound?

You want to come along? I hope so...because you're invited.

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