Tag Archives: Christmas

The Letongaloosa Register-Journal-Challenger-Sun Chronicle, Christmas Edition ©

Looking at the pages of the Tuesday edition of The Letongaloosa Register-Journal-Challenger-Sun Chronicle, managing editor, Isabella Frost knew it was going to be a long night.  Ever since she was a young, bright-eyed copy editor, ignoring the clock on the wall had been a tradition. There was a lot to do and she had a “to-do” list a mile long to prove it.

After nearly 40 years in the newsroom, that was one thing that never changed. Isabella was used to working late. To be honest, she enjoyed the time it took and the excitement of putting out a newspaper, especially during the holiday season. She liked seeing all of the brilliant colors of pictures and the heart-warming stories of the town coming together splashed all over the pages.  After all these years, they always filled her heart with joy.

Isabella closed her eyes, took a deep breath and remembered she needed to make room for the full-page ad that would accompany the feature for Dexter Dolby’s new movie, Attack of the 50-Foot Reindeer. She also needed to include milk to her list of things to pick up on her way home before she continued gazing at the words and pictures intermingling across tomorrow’s layout.  She was content with her life and the work she had done.  Then something peculiar caught her attention—she couldn’t look away.

Every story seemed to be in a “Top 10 List” format. As she clicked through each section, there were lists after lists scattered all throughout the pages. In the age of social media, Isabella knows that lists are a quick and effective way to tell a story. She, herself, has used them and keeps countless lists stored in her phone: “to-do” lists, lists for potential articles she wants to write, even her grocery list on her refrigerator is synced to her phone so even if she forgets to write milk to her shopping list, it’s not a big deal. Isabella can just send the list that is on her refrigerator to her phone and call it a day.

There is “Top 10”lists for everything nowadays. Every newspaper, magazine and media outlet around the globe seems to gravitate towards using them, not as just an element to a story, but as the primary way to relay information to the masses.

And Isabella saw that The Letongaloosa Register-Journal-Challenger-Sun Chronicle is definitely keeping up with current trends. The headlines staring back at her were: Top 10 Best Christmas Gifts for Chefs, The 10 Best Christmas Yodeling Albums of 2017, Merry Duggins’ List of the 10 Best Christmas Movies to name just a few.

Thankfully, the piece on Dexter’s new movie premiere would add an element of tradition to the paper. He was a longtime friend of Isabella’s and a beloved movie legend of Letongaloosa. His premiere film, Attack of the 50-Foot Turkey, lead him to head to job at a film production company on the Pacific Coast. He was home for the holidays to showcase his sophomore film, Attack of the 50-Foot Reindeer.  It was only fitting that Dexter come back to where his first began and it was only right that Isabella conduct his homecoming interview.

Excited, seeing Dexter and writing about his newest movie was an article that Isabella had looked forward to writing. Dexter was a student at Letongaloosa Community College where Isabella taught a writing course. She supervised his internship here at the paper and had been following his career ever since. She made sure Dexter’s story would be front and center highlight of the Lifestyle section.

After giving the Tuesday edition a final glance, she checked some final things off of her “to-do” list and headed off to the grocery store. It had been a long day. She was happy to go home, close her eyes and relax.

 

As Isabella woke the next morning, she reached for her phone to check her schedule for the day. It was going to be another long day. Making her way to into the newsroom, she grabbed a paper and flipped to the Lifestyle section and saw Dexter Dolby’s big smile, sparkling eyes and his “Top 10 Favorite Scifi Movies” staring back at her. She was filled with joy!!

-30-

Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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10 suggestions Poet James Russell Lowell

 

The Poet asked:  “Oh what is so rare as a day in June?”

1.     The flame created by the burning of your paid-off home mortgage.

2.     The look on the face of a three-year-old child who hears her dad’s car coming up the driveway.

3.     A wife seeing her husband of 55 years pain-free after recuperating from back surgery.

4.     Your dog’s tail when someone brings him his dinner.

5.     Grandpa’s joy at finding where Grandma hid the cookies after she left to play Mahjongg with her friends all afternoon.

6.     Grandma’s joy when Grandpa finally agrees to get a haircut.

7.     Parking the car in a rainstorm thinking you left the umbrella at home— and then seeing it lying in the back seat.

8.     The happiness of a boy who sees his homing pigeon land in its coop after being missing for a week.

9.     Ten Lords a-leaping.

10. And a partridge in a pear tree.

Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

 

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Hunting For St. Joseph ©

My wife Emmaline is one no nonsense, “just give me the facts,
please,” kind of woman. You won’t find Emmaline running on the
gerbil wheel of fad or fashion, much less giving heed to folklore
traditions. So it was with some consternation that I found myself in the
car (with Emmaline at the wheel as usual) driving to the city to buy a
statue of St. Joseph
We had decided to put our house on the market with an eye to
moving to something smaller, with fewer stairs. Before we signed a
sales contract and way before the for sale signs went up, Emmaline
got word from her good friend Rosalie that if we were serious about
selling our house we had better seek the divine assistance of St.
Joseph.
“You have to bury a small statue of St. Joseph upside down in the
front yard,” said Rosalie. “If you do that, your house will sell fast.”
Rosalie had told Emmaline to try We Believe Books, a Christian
store on the outskirts of the city. We drove around awhile and then
spotted “We Believe,” in a strip mall.
“Hi folks,” said the man behind the counter. “It’s a blessed
day.”
“Indeed it is,” said Emmaline. “Especially if you have a statue of
St. Joseph.”
“A statue?” the man asked.
“Well, actually small figurine of St. Joseph.”
“We don’t carry figurines,” he said.” Would a book mark do?”
We have some nice St. Joseph bookmarks.”
“No. It has to be a figurine.”
“Then I’m sorry, I can’t help you.”
“Is there another religious store close by?”
“You could try Light and Knowledge over on Linden Tree Road.”
Emmaline asked how to get there and the man gave her detailed
directions. After driving around for half an hour we found ourselves in
a in a rough neighborhood. Emmaline pulled up to a rundown
convenience store.
“See if the clerk knows where to find Light and Knowledge,” she
said.
The clerk was in his early twenties. He had a silver nose ring and
a nickel-sized ivory plug in each ear lobe.
“I’m looking for Light and Knowledge,” I said.
The clerk straightened up. His right hand moved slowly out of
sight under the counter.
“I’m all out,” he said.
“What?”
“I’m all out, man. Come back later.”
My confusion turned to insight. I felt a chill.
“Oh yeah, right. Okay, man,” I said. I backed toward the door.
“Did the clerk know anything?” asked Emmaline.
“No,” I said
Twenty minutes later we were in a less stressed part of town. We
passed a church. Six or seven women and a pastor were chatting on
the front steps. Emmaline pulled to the curb.
“Ask if they know where it is,” she said. “Hi, folks,” I said. “We’re
looking for the Light and Knowledge bookstore on Linden Tree
Road.” The pastor came to the car.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “I have no idea. But Salvation Now
Bookshop is up the street three blocks.
The woman behind the counter at Salvation Now was tall and
angular.
“We’d like to buy a small figurine of St. Joseph, “said Emmaline.
“You don’t want Salvation Now, you want Light and
Knowledge,” said the woman.
“Right,” I said, “on Linden Tree Road.”
“Yes,” she said.
“Is it far?”
“About twenty blocks. My sister Ginger owns it. My name is
Sheila.” Sheila handed me a sheet of paper with a map showing
how to get from Salvation Now to Light and Knowledge.
“You must have lots of requests for St. Joseph figurines, why
don’t you stock them?” I asked.
“Ginger and I both wanted to stock St. Joseph figurines, but we
decided to do “rocks, scissors, papers” and let the winner have an
exclusive on them,” she said. “Ginger won. I got exclusive rights to St.
Redondo figurines.”
“What does St. Redondo do for people?” I asked.
“He brings customers to yard and garage sales,” she said. “You
hide him carefully in the worst, most useless, item you have. I’ve
heard of St. Redondo yard and garage sales that have nothing left
less than half an hour after they began.”
We thanked Sheila, and followed her map to the Light and
Knowledge Book Store. The St. Joseph figurine came in a little box
that had instructions on how and where to bury him to insure a quick
sale.
We haven’t sold our house yet, but Emmaline says St. Joseph is
working on it every day. Meantime she’s planning another trip to the
city. Emmaline wants to buy a St. Redondo figurine to use in the
garage sale we’re going to have before we move.

Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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It’s So Cold…

Colder than a witches’  up here.  Clear blue sky, not a cloud.  Cold enough to freeze Ginger’s pee as soon as it hits the grass (well not quite).   

Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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A Christmas Luau in Letongaloosa©

From Garrison Storm’s earliest memories, Christmastime in Letongaloosa meant
sledding and snowball fights in down at Ol’ Man Connelly’s farm, hot cider and
skating with the Duggins kids, and sampling the cookies that he and his Mom
baked for Santa on Christmas Eve. Garrison has countless wonderfully, nostalgic,
childhood memories, but his most memorable holiday memory happened last
year when he and Clara Vidente, Letongaloosa’s resident psychic, saved
Christmas.
Typical days at MEGA-TV are an odd mix of terribly busy, and nothing much to
do. Everyone works in ebbs and flows. Some days are calm. Others are frantic.
Holidays are just plain crazy.
Garrison, the station’s lead meteorologist, was in the middle of a frantic stretch
which meant he would be working over the weekend to get forecasts ready for
Christmas. By Sunday, despite the lure and distraction of the yuletide activities in
town, Garrison had had a productive day. He had managed to deliver the
forecast for the upcoming week. He tweaked the layouts of the night’s
weathercast and even made time to go online to order a shiny, snow racer sled
for his nephew, Parker. He then walked across the street to eat at the diner
where he struck up a conversation with his psychic friend, Clara.
Clara had lived in Letongaloosa for years. She had a shop on Main Street that
lured passersby to come in to have their futures told. Garrison always walked by
on his way to go sledding with Paul and Tommy Duggins. She’d wave at him
through the bright yellow and green neon sign hanging in her store window.
That afternoon, as he waited for his roasted turkey sandwich and potato salad,
Clara told him she was concerned about the weather. It had been a bit
blustery, but after pouring over the radar all weekend Garrison saw nothing out
of the ordinary. Weather conditions were normal for that time of year, cold and
snowy. In other words, perfect weather for warm cider, cookies and sledding.
“I’ve been consulting my crystal ball and I don’t see snow at all,” Clara told
Garrison.
Garrison could tell she really believed in what she had “seen”, so he just sat and
listened. He had known this sweet lady his whole life.
“Go on,” he said.
“I see flowers blooming, children eating the snow, instead of throwing it. This is
going to be unlike any Christmas Letongaloosa has ever seen. We’ve got to do
something!”
“Tell you what,” Garrison said. “I’m going back to my office and I will check
every forecast again. I promise to issue a special weather bulletin if anything
other than snow happens on Christmas day.”
After lunch, Garrison took a short walk down Main Street to stretch his legs. It felt
good after the frantic pace he’d been on. He looked down at the snow on the
ground, took a deep breath, and thought about what Clara had said.
Garrison didn’t consider himself a haruspex. He couldn’t predict the weather.
And all of his data and experience as a meteorologist told him that everything
would be normal.
Walking back to the station, Garrison met Merry Duggins. She’s Paul and
Tommy’s mother who volunteers at the courthouse as a guardian ad-Litem.
Merry always had a kind word, a smile, and a pat on the back for kids in need.
Merry was as level-headed as Clara was psychically inclined. As they chatted,
Merry told Garrison that the winter festival would have a bit of a twist. He
promised he’d be there. He thought she had given him a peculiar smile as she
continued down Main Street.
Weeks later, Garrison walked into the courthouse meeting hall. He couldn’t
believe his eyes. Tropical flowers were everywhere. The good folks of
Letongaloosa had donned Hawaiian shirts. Their kids were chomping snow
cones. Garrison had walked into a Christmas Luau.
Clara’s crystal ball predictions had come true. He glanced around the room
taking it all in. Then he spotted her.
“You were right!”
“I can get used to this. It’s nice.”
“Merry Christmas, Clara! Now let’s go sledding.”
-30-

Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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Jus’ Wonderin’

Hey look, we don’t call  The Fourth of July  “Firecracker Day,”   We do call Christmas (out of laziness we write  Xmas, but we don’t call it “get lots of loot day.”  We don’t call Groundhog Day  “Brown Rodent Day.”  We don’t call Valentines Day
“I Heart You,” Day.  We don’t call May Day “When It’s Springtime in the Rockies,” Day.  So why, pray tell, do we call Thanksgiving  “Turkey Day”?
Jus’wonderin’

Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

 

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Bound For Buenos Aires ©

Hello!!

This is a true story. It chronicles one of my many adventures as a foreign correspondent. I was a young 27-year old writer back then and throughout the years, life has taken us on quite the journey!! My wife and I just celebrated 58 years of wedded bliss. Enjoy!!

Chris and I got married in mid December (1960) and in early February were scheduled to take a freighter from New Orleans, bound for Buenos Aires. We were supposed to sail at noon. Chris gets really seasick so she took two Dramamine tablets. Then, when we got to the dock, the ship was still being loaded. The Purser said it would be a three hours before we could board. he suggested we go to a movie at a theater near the dock. We went. Chris fell asleep before the movie started, and was still asleep when it ended. I had to practically lug her back to the ship. We boarded and got to our cabin. There were six other passengers. We ate with the captain and the crew. Chris was encouraged by my father, who had sailed to fight in WWI by way of the Caribbean. He said, “The Caribbean is a smooth as glass.”
We sailed that afternoon. As we got out of the Gulf of Mexico and into the Caribbean the sea got rough. The Caribbean wasn’t as “smooth as glass,” as my Dad had experienced. It was rolling and pitching. The captain said, “I’ve never seen this part of the Caribbean so rough. Chris said, “That’s because I’m on board.
Passengers ate in the dining room with the crew. There were eight passengers on our freighter: Chris and me—the young marrieds; a mother and her late teen daughter; a Brazilian couple bound for their home in Santos; a pair of American Catholic priests, bound for Rio de Janeiro to spend the rest of their lives in in church service in Brazil. One priest was in his fifties, the other in his late twenties. The younger one, like Chris, didn’t have “sea legs.” He said that he belonged to the “Railroad Irish,” who didn’t respond well to travel on water. The young priest and Chris didn’t come up on deck much during that Caribbean crossing, and neither came to meals in the dining room. The captain told me to tell Chris to limit liquid intake and to eat hard rolls. I took hard rolls to our cabin for Chris after every meal. Somewhere off the northwest coast of South America the sea became calmer and both Chris and the young priest got feeling better.
Ships continued to steam into Santos Bay until at the height of the dock strike and port congestion there were 26 ships waiting to be serviced. It was a week before the dispute was settled and the port authority authorized ships to dock and let passengers debark. The port authority took the ships in order of their arrival—virtually all ships were cargo vessels. A few, like ours, had passengers as well as cargo. Those were allowed to land first. So Chris and I and the passengers got to the dock and into Santos. The ship was going to be two days in port unloading and taking on supplies. Passengers were allowed to stay onboard but were encouraged to go into town, and, if they wished, take public transportation up the steep coastal mountain to Sao Paulo. Sao Paulo then, as now, was one of the most populous cities in the Western Hemisphere.
Before we left the U.S. Chris and I had contacted a member of the LDS Church who was a friend of a friend. Gary Neeleman had been a Salt Lake City broadcaster and reporter. He spoke fluent Portuguese because he had served a two-and-a-half-year mission for the LDS Church in Brazil. He returned to Brazil with his wife and two-year-old at Sao Paulo bureau chief of the United Press International. Chris and I had contact information for the Neelemans so we got in touch by phone. Gary was at work but, when apprised of our circumstances—that we had to be in Santos/Sao Paulo for two days, she invited us to come stay over night. The Neelemans took us out to dinner and gave us a very welcome bed for the night. The next morning we were awakened , early, by the Neeleman’s little boy who came into our room and said good morning. That boy, a toddler at the time, grew up to be the founder and owner of the international airline Jet Blue.
Meeting Gary and Rose Neeleman was to be a crucial and vital part of our time in Argentina.
After rounding up our hand luggage, we debarked at the docks of Buenos Aires, wishing a kind farewell to the crew and remaining passengers. We got a taxi into town and checked in the Fulbright Commission, then part of the United States Information Agency (later subsumed into the U.S. State Department) that was a contact entity for U.S. citizens. I was on a private, not government fellowship (with the Inter American Press Association) but the staff at the Fulbright Commission was very helpful. They suggested we check in at a new hotel down near Rivadavia (a major thorough fare that runs across much of Buenos Aires). We had gotten some dollars changed into Pesos at an commercial money exchange. Inflation was high in Argentina and the government was keeping tight control on transactions in which dollars and pesos were exchanged. The official rate, as I recall, was three pesos for a dollar. But there was a demand for dollars ( a solid currency) Argentines who wanted to travel abroad or buy goods abroad, so there was thriving black market in pesos. People approached us in the streets (our clothing and especially our American shoes gave us away as foreigners—not our skin or hair color. Seventy percent of the Argentine population was directly from Italians or came directly from Italy. The dollar seekers offered to take us to money exchange houses that were paying much more than three pesos for a dollar. We got a good price for initial exchange of dollars, and with pesos in pocket took a cab to the Hotel. We were greeted warmly by the hotel (I’ll ask Chris if she remembers the name of the hotel—years later I went back and stayed there during one of my assignments) for we were among the first guests to check in.
After rounding up our hand luggage, we debarked at the docks of Buenos Aires, wishing a kind farewell to the crew and remaining passengers. We got a taxi into town and checked in the Fulbright Commission, then part of the United States Information Agency (later subsumed into the U.S. State Department) that was a contact entity for U.S. citizens. I was on a private, not government fellowship (with the Inter American Press Association) I was later to receive (over the decades) a three USIA fellowships. The staff at the Fulbright Commission was very helpful. They suggested we check in at a new hotel down near Rivadavia (a major thorough fare that runs across much of Buenos Aires). We had gotten some dollars changed into Pesos at an commercial money exchange. Inflation was high in Argentina and the government was keeping tight control on transactions in which dollars and pesos were exchanged. The official rate, as I recall, was three pesos for a dollar. But there was a demand for dollars ( a solid currency) Argentines who wanted to travel abroad or buy goods abroad, so there was thriving black market in pesos. People approached us in the streets (our clothing and especially our American shoes gave us away as foreigners—not our skin or hair color. Seventy percent of the Argentine population was directly from Italians or came directly from Italy. The dollar seekers offered to take us to money exchange houses that were paying much more than the government set price three pesos for a dollar. Technically it was against the law to exchange dollars anywhere but at the government exchange. But everyone did it. We got a good price for initial exchange of dollars, and with pesos in pocket took a cab to the Hotel. We were greeted warmly by the hotel (I’ll ask Chris if she remembers the name of the hotel—years later I went back and stayed there during one of my assignments years later when the hotel was no longer new) for we were among the first guests to check in to the new hotel.

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Kaybe’s Cosmic Christmas ©

Over the years some of my columns have featured my robot friend KB11.2 (Kaybe) and other space aliens with whom I hang out at the Enchantment, a dingy roadhouse north of here.  I occurred to me that I’ve never introduced Kaybe’s family.   I’d like readers to get acquainted with them this holiday season in a  short story that is just “outta this world”!!

My Alien friend Kaybe looks like a giant tuna fish can. Erector Set arms sprout from the curved sides of his body. Three spindly legs drop from the flat underside of his stainless steel torso.  He has ball bearing wheels for feet, and three sensor-eyes wave at you from the ends of floppy antennae on the top his lid.

Kaybe  comes from  the Alpha Centauri star system. Many years ago on a visit to Earth,  Kaybe saved my marriage.  We have been friends ever since.  Kaybe communicates telepathically– his voice comes into your mind.  When we speak English, Kaybe sounds like CNN’s Anderson Cooper.  When we speak Spanish he sounds like the Mexican comedian Cantinflas.

We meet, as I said, in a back booth at the Enchantment where I spend quiet evenings sipping a soft drink.  No one at the Enchantment pays any attention when Kaybe rolls up to my booth.  Half the patrons are space aliens themselves, including the waitress, Four Finger Fannie, and customers Harry the Hulk and Miniature Mike.

Kaybe’s wife is named Zeeruba.  They’ve been married for many an earth year.  Zeeruba comes from Hebe, a minor planet in the Andromeda galaxy.  She chose to keep her maiden name rather than become “Mrs. 11.2.”.  Everyone calls her “Ms. Zee.”  Zee is as square as Kaybe is round, but she has the same kind of ball bearing wheels for feet, and the same three sensor eyes that wave at you from the ends of floppy antennae on top or her lid.

Hebians communicate differently from robots on Kaybe’s planet. Hebians communicate with a pleasant musical tone I can best describe as series of beeps that microwave ovens make to tell you that your Pop Tarts© are warm. A room full of chattering Hebians is a very tuneful place.

Kaybe met Zeeruba at a singles dance one night when Kaybe stopped by the planet Hebe on a trip through the Andromeda galaxy. The dance floor was crowded but none of the couples were robots. Zeeruba looked lonely standing at the edge of the dance floor. Kaybe rolled up and gave her a big telepathic “HI”. Hebians don’t receive telepathic messages, but Zeeruba, was happy to see a familiar robot shape, and beeped a happy greeting.

Attracted to each other, but unable to converse, the two looked around the dance floor for a translation station. The Galactic Supreme Council’s Polyglot Communication Committee provides translation stations on virtually all planets except Earth. Kaybe and Zeeruba found a nook with a translation station, ordered refreshments, and began to chat as if they had known each other a long time.

By the time the evening was over the two agreed to meet again soon. Over time their friendship blossomed into robotic love and they sought out a clergy-robot. They had an official diode exchange in a beautiful ceremony attended by their loved ones. After a gala galactic honeymoon, Kaybe and Zeeruba found a little place on Hebe and settled down and were very happy.

After a while Kaybe and Zeeruba decided it was time to start a family, so they went to the local hardware store and picked up what they needed.  A week later, Voila!  There was Kay-Ruba 11.3.  Everyone calls him Reebie.  Young  Reebie has some of Kaybe’s round features and some of Zeeruba’s square features, but young Reebie has four sensor eyes at the ends of the antennae that sprout from the top of his lid.  He communicates both telepathically like his dad and with beeps like his mom.  And boy, does he ever communicate!  Kaybe and Zeeruba are certainly not taciturn, but you’d think they were when Reebie is around—your mind is full of telepathic messages and the air is filled with beeps.  Reebie is very intelligent and he seeks inputs from all  the galaxies.  That’s how he came to learn about Christmas, here on our little planet in the Andromeda sector of the Milky Way galaxy.

“Hey Dad,” he said telepathically to Kaybe, and beeped to Zeeruba,  “I want to celebrate Christmas.”

And so it was that a few days before Christmas, Emmaline and I heard a knock at the door.  When we opened it, there stood Kaybe, Zeeruba and young Reebie  Their Erector set arms were loaded with bright, beautifully wrapped packages.  Some of the packages shone with a cosmic glow, while some others hummed, beeped or whistled quietly.   We invited them to stay at our house for the holidays.  After they got settled in, we all went down to the Enchantment for a soft drink.  A big holiday party was in full swing.  Four Finger Fannie took the night off from waiting tables and joined in the fun.  Miniature Mike and Harry the Hulk and the other space aliens welcomed us.  We sang (and beeped and telepathed, and in other ways communicated carols and songs of the holidays.  And, cliché or not, the phrase fits:  “A good time was had by all.” And that, in cosmic terms, is a great deal indeed.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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Holiday Afterglow

When I was a boy the holidays didn’t end the day after New Year’s as they do now.    At our house the holiday season often lasted until after Ground Hog Day.  It was usually early February before Mom carefully removed the ornaments, the strings of lights, and the tinfoil icicles from our Christmas tree and swept up the pile of pine needles from the floor.

This year my wife Emmaline and I took down the outside and inside decorations, including my Christmas train, on Jan. 2.  The Christmas train is my pride and joy.

I bought it years ago in Atlanta.  I had flown down to attend a niece’s December wedding.  I arrived a day early. The women invited me to go shopping with them.  In a department store I saw a toy train running around a track.

It was a Christmas Train—Santa atop the engine. It had four cars plus a caboose.  The train had lights, and the figures moved.

Decades dropped away.  I was seven or eight years old again.  I had to have that train.  Never mind that it cost $250; never mind that the box it came in was larger than a hard sider suitcase. I took out my credit card.

Now each Christmas season, after I have inexpertly installed the outside house lights and Emmaline has expertly and creatively decorated the inside of the house, I open the box and take out my Christmas Train.

I’ve cut assembly time to two hours.  One has to put  together the track,  attach the electric gear,  hook up the cars (each car is attached to the car ahead by a little black umbilical cord that makes the figures move and the lights dance).  I’ve been known to cuss a bit as I assemble the train.

It’s a wonderful train.  One pushes the ON button.  One pushes the forward button. A voice shouts “All Aboard.”  Bells ring, a realistic train whistle blows, and the train moves around the track.  Santa goes “ho, ho, ho.”

For the first few years I had the train to myself.  Then my granddaughter came along and wanted to run the train.  Then my grandson came along and  wanted to run the train.  Then Emmaline told me to let the grandchildren help me assemble the train.

I steadfastly resisted that suggestion until Christmas 2008.  My granddaughter is now eight and my grandson is five.   Emmaline sand bagged me.  She didn’t tell me the kids were coming until they were at the front door.

When they came in Emmaline said, “You can help Grandpa put his train together.”

I said, “Okay. Okay, kids, this is a very difficult project, so watch carefully and I’ll show you how I do it.”

“Okay, Grandpa.”

Then Emmaline called me to come upstairs.  It was the kind of pre-preemptory call that I’ve learned not to ignore.

“I’ll be RIGHT BACK,” I said.  “You kids go to Grandma’s office and play computer games.  We’ll put the train together when I get back.”

After a few minutes I heard kid voices from the living room. I took four steps down the back stairs.  Emmaline ordered me, in a preemptory voice, to finish my assigned task. Several elongated minutes later I sprinted for the living room.

Halfway down the stairs I heard a robotic voice say “All Aboard!”  My heart sank.  Had the kids gotten the electrical apparatus out of the big box and plugged it in?  What harm such mischief might do to my train I could only imagine.

I charged down stairs and into the living room.

“Ding, Ding, Ding,”   “Whooo, Whooo, Whooo,”  “All Aboard,”    “Merry Christmas!” “Ho, Ho, Ho,”  “Chug, Chug, Chug.”

My train was fully assembled and running around the track.   My granddaughter was at the controls and my grandson was jumping back and forth across the track just ahead of the train.

“Grandpa, we put the train together!”

The grandkids weren’t here on Jan. 2 when I put on my engineer’s cap and ran the train around the track one last time.  Then I put it back in the box for another year.

I hope my grandkids will let me help them put the train together next December.

 

Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

 

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Old Carol Revisited

Here’s a fun holiday jingle from one of Walt Kelly’s (the genius cartoonist of the 1950s-80s) Pogo Books:

“Deck us all with Boston Charlie
Walla Walla Wash., and Kalamazoo!

Nora’s freezing on the trolley
Gosh a mickel, pick-a-dickel
Alagaroo!

 

Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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