Downtown is a Norman Rockwell Painting

A lot of people complain about the early darkness this time of year, but I kind of like it. Because quite often, around 4:30, I’ll glance outside my office window and see a sight like this.

That was Friday’s sunset. It made up for the fact that I was the only person in my department who had to work the day after Thanksgiving. And while the day was productive in the sense that I wrapped up the December employee newsletter, I was also able to get a jump start on decorating my office.

You might recall that I went all out last year and ended up winning a gift card for my efforts. Well, CenturyCo is once again having a bunch of theme days, complete with prizes, to celebrate the holidays. Last year, I warned my supervisor that I’d held back on the decorations. New guy and all. This year, I did not hold back.

Pretty sure I’m singlehandedly keeping the wrapping paper industry afloat this holiday season.

My coworkers probably think I’m nuts. But with cash (and bragging rights) on the line, I couldn’t resist. And since I spend 40 hours a week in my little cave, it might as well be a festive little cave.

Thanksgiving was very chill this year. After hosting for so many years, Tara and I are a well-oiled machine in the holiday kitchen. Yes, the green bean casserole and stuffing were delicious, and no, I don’t have any regrets skipping mashed potatoes this time. I’m sure they’ll be back in 2022.

My favorite part of the day was this text exchange with my mom.

It’s official: I’m evil.

Saturday afternoon, we headed downtown for some holiday frivolity. Our first stop was the winter market in Main Street Square, where we bought a fresh wreath for the front door. (The front door of the house. Not my office. Guess I’d better specify!)

Next, we dropped by BH Contraband Distillery for a couple of cocktails. This was one of the first places we discovered after moving here, but oddly enough, we hadn’t been there in a long time. At least a year and a half, and I can’t really blame Covid, because it’s not like we ever really curtailed any of our regular activities. Out of sight, out of mind, I suppose.

We had about 40 minutes before the official tree lighting ceremony in Main Street Square and figured grabbing a drink would be a great way to kill some time. But then, we had a conversation that went a little something like this:

Mar: You know, we could skip the tree lighting ceremony.
Tar: These cocktails are pretty tasty.
Mar: What’s the big deal, anyway? The mayor’s going to stand up there, say a few words, and flip a switch.
Tar: Right. And the tree’s going to be lit up for the next month. We drive by it all the time. Hey, did you see they have fried pickles on the menu?
Mar: Ooh, and clam strips.

And thus, it was decided. The cozy ambience, the lure of another round (plus food—we hadn’t eaten lunch and were pretty hungry by that point) proved impossible to resist. Besides, our main reason for going downtown was the Festival of Lights parade, and that didn’t start until 6:00. The parade was something else we’d missed out on the past couple of years. We went our first winter here, in 2018, and really enjoyed it (even though we froze our asses off). It was a picture perfect way to kick off the holidays, complete with snow. Then in 2019, a brutal winter storm forced them to postpone the parade a week and move it to the mall parking lot. Which is…not a parade, so we didn’t bother going. Last year, they cancelled it because of Covid.

This year it was back on, so after our second round, we headed back to Main Street to stake out a spot along the parade route. By the way, I love how Rapid City goes all out for the holidays. With the festive decorations and packed ice skating rink, downtown looks like a Norman Rockwell painting.

The weather was decidedly tamer this year. Still a little chilly, but we haven’t had any measurable snow all month and it’s currently 60º as I write this with record highs forecast this week. Dammit, I want winter.

Anyway, the parade was great—lots of brightly decorated floats and shit. Afterward, we grabbed a table at Paddy O’Neill’s for a couple more drinks and a snack before heading home. All in all, it was a pretty great day.

Gotta wrap this up now. We put up our tree and indoor decorations yesterday, but we still have to put up our outdoor stuff. Everything but the lights on the roof; we hired a company to put them up for us, but we haven’t heard from them yet and I’m starting to get nervous. I’m too chickenshit to get up on the roof myself because it’s a very long way down.

At least we won’t freeze to death this afternoon.

30 thoughts on “Downtown is a Norman Rockwell Painting

  1. You have such fun. I’m glad you enjoy decorating. Feels like such a chore to me. :/ It’s going to be happening today. I’m hoping I can back out slowly without anyone noticing and let the family take care of everything. Such a slacker, I know.
    Great sunset! Office looks good too. Hope you win. I also hope CLK doesn’t suddenly get hired by Century Co. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha! CLK has her own retail store, so I figure my odds of an intraoffice competition with her are slim to none.

      Decorating itself isn’t particularly fun, but the end result makes it all worthwhile. No holiday pain, no holiday gain! Unless you’re eating a lot of Christmas cookies…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. So pretty, especially the sunset photo. We’re getting some nice sunsets in SoCal, but our reds are probably due to fires (not as bad as last year, thankfully, but it’s still dry here).

    I’m glad I don’t have to decorate an office as well as a house! I had to do the tree and house yesterday, pretty much all by myself. I am sore today.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. See, I’m worried you won’t win this year for one reason: you won last year. We have these little red papers that students can give us to “reward” us. We stuff them in the box in the teacher lounge and once a month a handful of teachers get picked for a little prize (a fancy coffee or 30 minutes of classroom coverage – that sort of thing). I’ve won a couple of different years, but never twice in the same year even though I have plenty of little papers in there throughout the year. I’m 99% certain they keep a tally of who won each month so the same people don’t get picked twice and they can spread the love, so to speak. With all your efforts, I wouldn’t want that same fate befalling you… Thoughts?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Possibly a valid point; having only been with CenturyCo for a year, I have no frame of reference. But I’m in pretty tight with HR (the people responsible for the prizes) and am on the party planning committee, so I think I’ve got a good shot regardless. Even if not, it’s pretty nice being at work surrounded by all that holiday festiveness!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. LOL! Not really. They actually gave away multiple prizes to multiple entrants last year. For this contest, they’ll definitely reward effort. I’m not a lock by any means.


  4. Gorgeous sunset, lovely and festive office! There is no way you can’t win this year unless Clark Griswold has recently been hired. Hey, I write our company-employee newsletter too! You probably have more people, but still, it’s fun for me.

    That DOES look like a Norman Rockwell painting; I love it. Your weekend sounds delightful and I giggled at your Turkey Text.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. That is an unbelievable storybook picture! Love it! We went to the Xmas fireworks show here and it was pretty spectacular. The best part? Sitting in our car to watch and they started at 5:30!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Skating rink so idyllic — that’s an OOH, AHH moment, right there!
    I do not like driving in the dark, and so, like, this DARKNESS has been horrendous for my commute home. Just…no. Also, mildly depressing to me in general, but oh em gee, yes, that’s a gorgeous sky! At the fall time, there are beautiful trees outside my work window and in the golden hour they’re near as stunning as that sky!

    Liked by 2 people

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