A Christmas Story, Not

i am a curmudgeon. As such, i rail against putting up Christmas decorations too soon and too elaborately. Of course, i enjoy others making their homes look like Disneyland and laugh at how much it cost without actually having a clue what it costs.

Our exterior decorations are just one hand made “NOEL” sign i hang from the garage eves. i got the idea from Colonel Jimmy Lynch, the grandfather of my older daughter when i helped him hang a much more professional “NOEL” from his roof at 911 South Main in Paris, Texas about two millenniums ago. He and his wife, Nannie Bettie, were masters at Christmas decorations and throwing parties. My sign has gone through a couple of iterations and generated a story about my pretty bad Christmas, which i post every year and will do again later as we get closer to the magic day.

But against my judgement, better or not, i began the decorating today with the help of my younger daughter Sarah while Maureen was…oh yeh, she was at yoga. You see, i can accept decorating this early as our annual Christmas journey to Tennessee makes our time to enjoy our decorations a short time.

This is not an easy gig, this decorating thing. i store the Christmas decorations up there in the attic my father and i created in the garage, and it’s pretty well swamped with about 99 % of things i need to throw away. i have to wade through all of this stuff, lower the “NOEL” sign, take the 436,000 boxes of Christmas decorations down the ladder, through the breezeway, through the hall, and into the family room. Then (and Sarah’s part in this grows exponentially each year as she takes on more of the lifting burden, not because i can’t, but because she is concerned about the old man’s fallibility; and i beginning to accept that), we maneuver the 300 ton tree (well, not really) through the attic and lower it down  ladder. Once down, we slide it into the family room, completely rearrange the entire house, set up the tree, and i get the hell out of there. i have two designer fanatics…er, experts in my house. Providing any kind of help can lead to chaos.

i retreat to my office claiming i need to do essential things. In truth, i am screwing off. But it’s dinner time, and i must emerge. The darling designers and chefs beyond measure have added to decorating day. They have put on “Christmas Story” on the television. They are laughing even though they have probably seen this movie two dozen times or more. Oh wait, i have too. i am watching almost in reverence at many things to which i can relate to my childhood.

But i must admit, there is one scene that takes me back to one of JD Wait’s best stories. i have written of it before. i can never write about it or narrate with the effectiveness of JD telling it. But it is classic. If you are averse to profanity, you might avoid reading the rest of this.

The “Christmas Story” scene is when the Parker’s go out and get their Christmas tree but have a flat tire returning to their home. When Ralphie lets loose with the “F’ word, he gets the treatment. Every time i see this scene, i think of JD recounting his family attendance at a Spike Jones’ concert.

John David Waits and his wife, Wanda Pearl, ran a diner in Houston, renowned for John’s barbecue. They got a lot of business because of the quality of their cuisine and, no doubt, the affability of the owners. Among customers, it was well know, John was an effusive fan of Spike Jones.

When Spike scheduled a show in Houston, one of the better heeled customers gave John three prime seat tickets to the concert.

As the evening approached, Wanda Pearl began to worry John about getting to the concert on time. John David assured Wanda Pearl he had planned to the Nth degree to ensure they got there in plenty of time to be one of the early arrivals.

Preparation became a bit of a hassle. Again, Wanda Pearl questioned whether they had enough time. John David again assured her he had taken into account all eventualities.

They began their drive only to arrive at a railroad crossing where a train the length of most traveling across the southern railways extended beyond imagination. They waited at the crossing for what must have seemed like an interminable time. Wanda Pearl was getting upset. John David assured her they were still good on arriving on time.

After the train cleared, the family proceeded, but soon ran over something in the road. They had a flat tire and had to replace it with the spare. John David still thought they could make it on time.

Because of the delays, they arrived to find the parking lot packed. They finally found a space in the back forty. By the time, they walked to the entrance and showed their tickets, the show was beginning as the usher with his flashlight, walked them down to the third row. Their three seats were dead in the center.

As they were trying to get through the people already seated, it caused a bit of confusion.

Crazy Spike, in the middle of his introductory number, stopped looked down as John, Wanda Pearl, and the young JD were trying to get to their seats as quietly as possible, quipped, “It’s about time you got here.”

Frustrated to the breaking point, John David stopped, looked up at Spike Jones and yelled:

“Fuck you, Spike.”

i think i will watch a replay of Christmas Story now.

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