Friday, December 21, 2012

Mr. Bingle

           Coming up on the heels of Christmas, all I’ve been hearing about are presents, presents, presents.  I have a lot of friends with children, so I’m hearing about  everything from Mickey Mouse toys to brand new cars  (you know, the necessary things that children of all ages need to survive.)  With all the talk of material things, I’ve been thinking about what Christmas is all about.  I’m sure I’m suppose to say it’s about Jesus and it is, but that’s not what I think about when I think about such an amazing holiday.  I think about Mr. Bingle!

            Mr. Bingle is a snowman who came to life thanks to the vision a window decorator employed by Maison Blanche department store (which was originally located on Canal Street in downtown New Orleans.)  Since 1948, the miniature snowman’s popularity grew to reach more than just New Orleans, but eventually, the Maison Blanche chain closed leaving Mr. Bingle out of sight for a short period of time.  The heavens blessed us when Dillard’s took over the familiar New Orleans icon and he resides specifically with us, right where he belongs.  Each year, Mr. Bingle’s presence on the side of the department store building was always a clear sign that Christmas was on its way, but in my house, Mr. Bingle was a clear sign that my Grandmother was around.    
            For as long as I can remember, my grandmother was employed by Maison Blanche so Mr. Bingle was a huge part of our childhood with her.  We always had a Mr. Bingle stuffed animal in all of our houses at Christmas and we always read the story of Mr. Bingle (which is written below!)  Since my grandmother’s passing 10 years ago (wow, that’s a long time,) you can find some kind of Mr. Bingle paraphernalia in each of her 8 grand children’s homes.  As a matter of fact, I have a stuffed Mr. Bingle that stays out all year round; I even dress him up for Halloween! 

           The point of this is that the smallest things can take you back to a place and time when life was simpler and we could just worry about presents, presents, present like my niece and nephew will this year.  But what this holiday is really all about is family and the memories we’ve made each holiday we get to spend with each other.  This Christmas, grab a Mr. Bingle, read your children the story of the famous snowman, have yourself some beignets and make some memories.  My favorite memories included  this warm, lovable New Orleans favorite and I remember Mr. Bingle’s jingle way more than I remember what my grandmother gave me as a gift each year!

When Santa left his shop one day
He found a snowman near his sleigh.
"You'll be my helper now," he said,
And tapped the little fellow's head.

The snowman found that he could talk--
"Look, Santa, I can even walk!"
And then he gave a little sigh...
"Oh, how I wish that I could fly!"

So, Santa gave him holly wings,
Then, looking through his Christmas things,
Found ornaments the very size
To make a pair of shining eyes.

Then Santa said, "You need a hat;
An ice cream cone's just right for that.
And keep this candy cane with you,
You'll see what magic it can do!"

The snowman laughed and sang a jingle,
So Santa named him "Mr. Bingle."
That's how it happened. Now he's here
With us at Maison Blanche all year.

My grandmother's old name tag

Saturday, December 1, 2012


As a child, my mother never allowed us to take our shoes off at other people's houses. We went completely dressed in an outfit that included shoes and were to remain dressed throughout the day/ event.  I never really appreciated that "drill sergeant" rule of fashion until I got older and noticed the number of girls who were quick to take their shoes off no matter where we went.  In high school, girls were always taking their shoes off at sweet 16 parties, proms, etc., and as I continued to age, weddings became the place where the shoes came off.  This became the “norm” so much so that the trend now is to give flip flops as the favor at receptions to make female guests more comfortable.

Traditionally, I am a big believer in being different or making things your own – always putting your personal touch on everything.  I guess that’s why I’m not too bothered when everyone partakes in the “flip flop wearing” as a group!  I guess I do fall into the age old saying of "if everybody's doing it, it must be ok.” I may even partake in the "casual fun" from time to time (don’t tell my mom). But weddings are starting to get so “casual shoe” friendly, that the flip flops are now becoming the go-to shoe when guests get to the reception whether they are offered as part of the wedding festivities or not.

I saw a bridesmaid this past weekend wearing platform, jeweled flip flops with a short bridesmaid dress. The last thing you should do when ruining the look of your $200 bridesmaid dress is bring attention to the situation.  Just because they have jewels on them does not suddenly make flip flops a formal shoe.
Here’s the etiquette girl - You don’t have to wear stilettos, you just have to wear "dress shoes.”  So if you leave the house not being able to walk in the shoes, it certainly will not get better as you start drinking and dancing. Wear shoes that you can handle for the entire night. 

But wait, unfortunately, I do have to take this one step further.  I feel that this should go without saying, but apparently I must say it, so let me tell you all that not wearing any shoes is definitely not ok; EVER!  And to make matters worse, it breaks my heart that I have to mention that walking thru the French Quarter without shoes is not only repulsive and a sure fire sign that you are a tourist, but it’s also a guarantee that you’re going home with more than a hangover. That type of etiquette is something that I'm not sure I can ever cover. But do keep this in mind; if you are so drunk that you think taking your shoes off at a wedding reception is a good idea then abort immediately. Have someone put you in a car and get you home right away for you are more than likely about to black out, vomit or at least give the videographer his award winning footage for the night!!!