Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas at the movies

There was a time when those of us who don't celebrate Christmas would spend the day at a movie matinee and then look for someplace that was open for something to eat.

When my boys were younger, I can recall our family and a handful of others standing outside the original movie theater entrance at the Hudson Valley Mall. You may remember it being on the corner of the building in between the current entrance and what is now Macy's.

There were only several screens in those days and there was no lobby to speak of, so we'd huddle outside in the cold until they unlocked the door, all the while hoping the Freeman ad was correct and the theater actually was showing films on the holiday. (Since that day, I've insisted that our Advertising Department double-check the accuracy of Christmas Day movie listings. If the listings are wrong, please don't blame us; we use what the theaters send.)

The hunt for post-movie food has rarely changed. One year we found nothing open except a convenience store, at which we bought hero sandwiches. Some treat.

Another year, the Chinese place we anticipated being open wasn't. (Christmas Day was Monday that year, the restaurant's normal day off.) Antsy and hungry, we found a diner (which hadn't been open in the past). Another year, it was a Mexican restaurant.

There's nothing like the angst from driving through near-empty streets in the town of Ulster and Kingston searching for a restaurant and finding one after the other dark.

That's pretty much what we'll encounter tomorrow, but no longer is the audience for a Christmas Day movie filled only with non-celebrants. Christmas Day has become boffo box office for Hollywood, which now promotes big movie openings for, as they say, wide release on the holiday. If you've never gone, you might be surprised at how many folks crowd into the mall for a Christmas Day flick.

The irony this year is that that film we want to see isn't playing around here. We're thinking of driving to Albany. I wonder how many restaurants we'll find closed?
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