Silver screen nice complement to red, green

A while back in this space I was advocating a day off for everyone. I was proposing there be one day per year when all businesses — except the life-and-death essentials — close for a day and give everyone a day off.

Christmas comes about as close as possible to that day. This past Tuesday, very few non-essential businesses were open. And for many that were, they were on a shortened schedule.
While I am the one advocating such a move, I will admit there is one industry that I’m glad was not only open, but business was booming.

Christmas Day found our family in Omaha for the last stop of what we were referring to as Christmas Tour 2012. The only thing missing was the T-shirts. Starting on Friday and ending on Tuesday, we were at three different family Christmas celebrations. Let’s just say some years are easier than others to get all members of the family in one place at one time. It required right around 800 miles on the car, three gas tank fills and roughly 200 pounds of road salt stuck to the side of the car from “winter driving conditions.” All in all though, it’s worth it when it can be said that we saw the vast majority of immediate family. Plus, we had this week off to recover from four nights away.

But back to the industry that bucks the “closed on Christmas” trend and does a good business, as well: movie theaters. Not only are the theaters open, but the movie industry chooses Christmas Day, or weekend, as a good time to debut new movies.

I don’t know if two times in the span of four years is enough to constitute a holiday tradition, but that’s how many times our family has found itself in Omaha as the Christmas Day celebrations were winding down. And each time we’ve capped the day off with a trip to the movies. And if you think you might want to do that as a way to get somewhere peaceful and empty and away from holiday crowds you’ve been facing the past month — think again. We’re not the only ones with this idea.

We hit the later of the afternoon matinees and the place was hopping. We were at a place with 14 screens, and between hobbits and monsters, vampires and freed slaves and one big-time musical (our choice), each screen had plenty of eyes on them. Apparently getting out of the house and into the theater is a good way to pass the day. It looked like there were quite a few family groups and people meeting friends, as well as those who through one circumstance or another were spending the day alone and just wanted to get out.

So, while calling for everyone to take the day off, my thanks goes out to those who were working to open the theater. From the ticket seller (OK, I used a machine to buy my tickets, but there were humans selling them nearby, as well), to concession stand people, to projection operators, to the guy in uniform who I think was keeping an eye on me to make sure I wasn’t hopping from one theater to the next after our movie for a “double feature,” they were all there for us. (Note to self: Next time, no matter how good the popcorn smells, stay away from it when just hours removed from a Christmas ham dinner feast.)

I hope this doesn’t make me a hypocrite as I talk about giving everyone a day off, and yet I also advocate catching a Christmas flick. In fact, I’m also indebted to the nice silver-haired woman working the gas station where I bought a bag of ice earlier in the day. Hmm, guess my wife might be right — it really is all about me.

One final thought while on a movies theme: I will gladly part with the price of admission and an over-priced, watered down soft drink to the first theater in this area that would finally show “Lincoln” sometime before it walks again with a wagonload of Oscars. Even if it’s a holiday.

Russ Batenhorst

Don't expect to detect a common topic or theme in Russ Batenhorst's weekly column in the Hastings Tribune. Usually it's whatever slice-of-life observation pops into his head just in time to make the deadline for it to appear each Friday.

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