As a young girl, I fell in love with Fred Astaire.
Alas, the infatuation was one-sided, but, the best part about this unrequited love was the fantasy could be what I wanted it to be. So, hour after hour, I’d watch the object of my affection dance and sing his way across the screen. My favorite film of his was Holiday Inn. Of course, that really was Bing Crosby’s movie and Fred Astaire played his buddy that was always trying to steal Bing’s dreams, be they of the female variety or simply a wish for peace and quiet. And, being magnanimous with my affections, there was room in my heart for Mr. Crosby as well. So, we all were happy playing our parts.
To this day I still know every scene, every word, every nuance of Holiday Inn. In brief, the premise involved Bing’s dream of owning an inn that was only open on holidays (he was rather averse to work.)
Like Bing, I’m all about holidays.
And, it didn’t dawn on me until now that, in crafting the Lucky series, Holiday Inn might have been lurking in my subconscious. You see, and you might already know, each of the Lucky books generally, but not always, centers around a holiday or a major event such as a fight weekend or poker tournament in Vegas.
Lucky Break, the latest, is my version of Christmas in Vegas.
After having lived in Vegas for a decade or so, I started looking forward to Christmastime there. The weather can be chillier than most think—it’s the high desert and nights cool quickly. But the days are still warm enough to wander the Strip and absorb a bit of holiday cheer. Each hotel puts on its best face as they seem to buckle to an unspoken rule that the tawdry needs to be tucked out of sight.
And, if Vegas is about anything it is about excess. The same holds true at Christmas. The displays in the Saks windows lining Fifth Avenue, the Tiffany take on the season in San Francisco, the tree in Rockefeller Center or its counterpart in Union Square on the west coast can’t hold a candle to the sorts of grandiose displays in Vegas. Each hotel on the Strip works to outdo the others. The trees in the Palazzo, the glass ornaments in the Wynne, the Christmas trees and butterflies in the Conservatory at the Bellagio are each works of art—and these are only but some of the wonders to take in while sipping from your yard of holiday spirits.
And there’s always the endless Andrea Bocelli loop making the fountains dance in front of the Bellagio.
The citizenry also finds ways to add to the revelry.
In Lucky Break, there is a footrace called the Elf Run in which all participants are dressed as, you guessed it, elves, with a smattering of Santa’s thrown in for holiday cheer. Each December in Vegas there really is a holiday footrace called the Great Santa Run where thousands of Santas take to the streets to work off holiday excesses or to indulge in more. It’s Vegas—one can run, walk or stagger and still have a great time.
The buffets really put on a show at the holidays so you can feast to your limits. Eggnog and Champagne flow freely, and, much like everywhere else at this time of year, Vegas seems to be lit with the rosy hue of peace on earth and goodwill to everyone—a bit different than its normal frenetic mischief-making.
But, to be honest, Christmas is just a lull, so you have to catch it quickly. Once the day has past, the presents have been opened, and the turkey eaten, all attention focuses on the biggest block party in the world that is just a few days way.
New Year’s Eve.
The Strip is closed to cars and the revelers roam all night taking in the show.
But, that’s the next book….
Oh, and that Fred Astaire thing? When I was twenty and long past my infatuation, I had lunch with him in L.A., just the two of us (long story.)
And he was all that and more.