Thursday, December 6, 2018
Madison Night's Holiday Decorating Party (+ Surprise Visitor!)
from the Madison Night Mad for Mod Mystery Series
by Diane Vallere
When I first told my friends, clients, and employees that I wanted to host a holiday party at Mad for Mod, I was met with enthusiasm--for five seconds. And then planners and phones came out, schedules were checked, and the grumbling began. How is it people who complain year-long that their lives have become boring are suddenly overbooked with party after party from organization after organization?
So I nixed the idea of a party. Still, I have a metal file cabinet filled with vintage ornaments, and a little decorating never hurt anybody.
"Hey, Madison? Here's that box of vintage ornaments from the storage locker." I took the proffered box from Effie Jones, my full-time millennial employee. I was teaching her about the mid-century modern aesthetic, and she was teaching me about Slack, integrated mailing lists, and Zoom. She brought up King Sumo last week, and I told her unless he came with gold, frankincense, or myrrh, I wasn't ready to meet him. (Apparently, he didn't.)
I took the ornaments, spun them one at a time like a grocery store shopper inspecting a carton for broken eggs, and handed them back to her. "Connie and Mitchell are almost done setting up the Evergleam Pom-Pom trees. You can do the honors of placing the Christmas balls if you want."
"Isn't that a big job?" Effie asked. Her eyes widened, and for a moment she looked like the introverted college student she'd been when I first met her.
"Two days ago you automated my mailing list and placed a tracking pixel on my website."
"That was easy."
"Effie, I think you can handle some Christmas balls."
She relaxed. "Whatever you say, boss."
I watched as my friends laughed and decorated. It was 7:15 a.m. We hadn't been able to coordinate party schedules, but when they heard I was going to decorate early today, they showed up one by one without being asked.
There was Connie, a recently separated former employee who now worked in a niche aspect of the record industry, stringing twinkle lights around the perimeter of the showroom.
Mitchell, manager of Paintin' Place, the store where I frequently shopped and occasionally endorsed products.
Joanie, owner of Joanie Loves Tchotchkes, a thrift store that often sold me items I could have gotten for free if I'd woken up five minutes earlier and beaten Joanie to the dumpster on trash day.
Rocky, my caramel and white Shih-Tzu, had been outfitted with tiny reindeer horns and bells and ran around the shop yipping at the activity.
Effie, who you already know.
One person was missing. One person who--
The front door chimes jingled and Santa Claus walked in with a bottle of Veuve Cliquot in each hand and a jug of orange juice under his elbow. "Ho, ho, ho," he said. Instantly I knew his costume was vintage--a soft, red velour trimmed with white fur that was as fluffy as his beard. The square patent-leather buckle, the drape of the trousers, and the boots--shiny black riding boots that Clint Walker could have worn in Send Me No Flowers.
This could not be happening. Santa Claus had more important things to do than come to my showroom at 7:15 and deliver mimosas.
We locked eyes and a warm feeling coursed through me. I felt myself blush from the tips of my shiny red patent leather kitten heels, under my ivory double-knit polyester shift dress with the red daisies embroidered at the empire waist, and all the way to the top of the ivory turtleneck I'd worn underneath.
"Merry Christmas," Santa said. He wiggled the bottles and waggled his eyebrows. "You like?"
"This didn't come from Amazon," I said.
"No. I called around and found it at a costume shop in Nevada called Disguise DeLimit. The owner said it's from 1964."
I joined him and considered giving him a thank you peck on the cheek, but all that white synthetic hair was a little off-putting. "I thought you had an important meeting this morning?"
"Going to visit the local elementary school. I thought I'd stop here first."
"So this," I gestured up and down Santa Claus's outfit, "is for them? Not me?"
He stroked his beard. "Well, for now, yes, it's for them." He grinned. I took the bottles and juice and watched Santa wave to my elves and then turn to the door. He stopped and turned back. "Yo, Night." I rented the vintage Mrs. Claus costume too. It's in the back seat. You want to join me?"
"I tell you what. You handle the grade school. I'll handle the workshop. But tonight..."
Santa Claus's eyes darkened. "Tonight?"
"Tonight it'll just be you and me..."
...and it was. Unfortunately, the early morning, day-with-the-elementary-school-children, and decorating marathon had an unfortunate effect on both of us. We fell asleep (in our vintage Santa and Mrs. Claus costumes) before nine o'clock that night.
Note to self: call Disguise DeLimit and extend the rental. After all, it's only December 6th.
Happy Holidays from Madison Night & the Mad for Mod Crew!
Leave a comment on the identity of Santa Claus and be entered to win a Kindle copy of PILLOW STALK, the book that started the Madison Night Mad for Mod series! (5 winners in all!)