Friday, December 19, 2014

It's a Tradition!

Thought for the day: North, south, east, and west... old traditions are the best.


Traditions don't have to necessarily be classy, you know. Sometimes, they're just plain fun... or funny. Candlelight services on Christmas Eve, singing the Hallelujah Chorus with the church choir, and caroling with the neighbors... especially when it's snowing... those things are all both traditional and classy. This post? Not so much. But this is the fourth year I'm running it, so I think it has now officially become a tradition. Because I said so. And because I'm lazy it's just plain fun... and funny.


 So, here it is, my classic tale, although not exactly in the same category as Dickens, about (ahem)  inflated dreams... 

Enjoy.

****

Thought for the day: We don't stop laughing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop laughing.


No telling how many years this wreath has graced our front door.
We never made a huge production out of outdoor decorations, but every year, our kids made the same grand proclamation after we cruised our decorated-out-the-wazoo neighborhood on the way home from the candlelight service on Christmas Eve.

"The best one of all!" they'd lie as we pulled into our driveway.

Okay, so maybe they weren't really lying through their braces. Maybe anticipation of the hidden presents awaiting inside added a certain luster to their perception of our decorations.

Anyhow, I'd say decorating styles can pretty much be divvied into three categories: traditional, enlightening, and inflated. Us? We're traditionalThat means, except for an occasional new acquisition, I've pretty much used the same decorations every year. For a LOT of years. Like the ornaments that hung on my parents' tree when they were first married, some of which are now paper thin, and considerably faded with age. And a slew of decades-old goodies fashioned by our children with copious quantities of felt, glue and glitter, construction paper, walnut shells, clothespins, eyeglass lenses, and even a Mason jar lid. A black spider in a golden web and a huge decorated crab shell, both made my by sister-in-law. Boxes of tinsel painstakingly applied, strand by strand, and then painstakingly removed to store in a box for yet another year. Like I said, traditional. Well, to be more accurate, I suppose we've become more traditional cum lazy, because each year, I use less and less decorations, and some of them don't even make it down out of our attic anymore. For sure, our formerly traditional tree is considerably NOT traditional these days. (I'll give you a peek at the end of this post.)

These singers once belonged to my grandmother.

Everybody knows the enlightening type of decorator. They're the ones with so many lights blazing in their front yards, they risk causing a blackout across three states every time they turn 'em on. Very flashy. Sometimes, they even incorporate animation and music, too, and carloads of people stop by every night to ooh and aah over their winter wonderland. It isn't at all unusual for a competition of sorts to begin when multiple enlighteners live in close proximity. (Those neighborhoods can be seen from the space station.)



And then, there's the inflatedThis is a fairly recent category. I sure don't remember seeing this sort of display when I was a kid. Nowadays, you can purchase just about any character you can think of ... inflate it ... and stick it on your front lawn. And if you can't find a particular character, for the right price, you can probably have someone make one for you. Then, all those characters can weave and bob all over your yard.











Now then, to the point of today's post. Time for a tale about a Christmas inflatable of an entirely different ilk. This story originated in 1999, and was alleged to be the winning entry to a Louisville Sentinel contest about the wildest Christmas dinner. Turns out, no such newspaper ever existed, and the writer remains unknown, but the story lives on, thanks to the good ol' Internet. (WARNING: Better put your drink down before you read it.) Now here, after a bit of minor editing on my part, is that story:




As a joke, my brother Jay used to hang a pair of pantyhose over his fireplace every Christmas Eve. He said the only thing he wanted was for Santa to fill them, but what they say about Santa checking his list twice must be true, because every Christmas morning,  the other stockings would all be bulging with treats, but Jay's poor pitiful pantyhose were still dangling empty.

So one year, I decided to make his dream come true. I put on sunglasses, a fake nose, and a ski cap, and went in search of an inflatable love doll.

Know what? They don't sell those things at Wal-Mart. I had to go to an adult bookstore. By the way, if you've never been in an X-rated store before, two words: don't go. You'll only confuse yourself. I was there for an hour saying things like, "What does this do?" "You're kidding me!" and  "Who would buy that?" 

So anyway, I finally made it to the inflatable doll section. I wanted to buy a standard, uncomplicated doll that could also substitute as a passenger in my truck so I could use the car pool lane, but finding what I wanted was difficult. Love dolls come in many different models. The top of the line, according to the side of the box, could do things I'd only seen in a book on animal husbandry, but I settled for the bottom of the price scale: Lovable Louise. To call her a doll took a huge leap of imagination.

On Christmas Eve, with the help of an old bicycle pump, Louise came to life. My sister-in-law was in on the plan, and let me in during the wee morning hours. Long after Santa had come and gone, I filled Jay's pantyhose with Louise's pliant legs and bottom. I also ate some cookies and drank what remained of a glass of milk on a nearby tray. Then I went home, and giggled for a couple of hours.

The next morning my brother called to say that Santa had been to his house and left a present that had made him VERY happy but had left the dog confused. She would bark, start to walk away, then come back and bark some more. We agreed that Louise should remain in her pantyhose so the rest of the family could admire her when they came over for the traditional Christmas dinner.

My grandmother noticed Louise the moment she walked in the door. "What the hell is that?" she asked.

My brother quickly explained, "It's a doll."

"Who would play with something like that?" she snapped.

 I had several candidates in mind, but kept my mouth shut.

"Where are her clothes?" she continued.

"Boy, that turkey sure smells nice, Gran," Jay said, trying to steer her into the dining room.

 But Granny was relentless. "Why doesn't she have any teeth?"

Again, I could have answered, but why risk it? It was Christmas, and nobody wanted to spend it in the back of an ambulance saying, "Hang on, Granny, hang on!"

My grandfather, a delightful old man with poor eyesight, sidled up to me, waggled his eyebrows, and said, "Hey, who's the naked gal by the fireplace?"

I told him she was Jay's friend, and a few minutes later, noticed Grandpa standing by the mantel, talking to Louise. And not just talking. He was actually flirting. It was then we realized this might be Grandpa's last Christmas at home.

The dinner went well. We made the usual small talk about who had died, who was dying, and who should be killed, when suddenly Louise made a noise that sounded a lot like my father in the bathroom in the morning. Then she lurched from the pantyhose, flew around the room twice, and fell in a heap in front of the sofa. The cat screamed. I passed cranberry sauce through my nose, and Grandpa ran across the room, fell to his knees, and began administering mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. My brother fell back over his chair and wet his pants, and Granny threw down her napkin, and stomped outside to sit in the car.

It was indeed a Christmas to treasure and remember. Later in my brother's garage, we conducted a thorough examination to decide the cause of Louise's collapse. We discovered that Louise had suffered from a hot ember to the back of her right thigh. Fortunately, thanks to a wonder drug called duct tape, we restored her to perfect health.

After that, Louise went on to star in several bachelor party movies, and I'm pretty sure Grandpa still calls her whenever he can get out of the house.

                                                     *****************

This is gonna be my last post this year. Time to declare family time. But before I go, let me share a picture of our non-traditional Christmas tree I mentioned above.

Not too bad, right?


It's made of cardboard, cut in the shape of a tree,  painted green, and decorated with bubble lights and twinkle lights. Easy up, easy down, and we don't have to worry about our cats climbing it, or breaking our antique tree decorations, and I don't have to follow them around to pull tinsel out of their butts. PLUS, they can still look out the front window. Win-win all the way around.




         Merry Christmas.  May all your dreams... no matter how inflated...  come true.

                                Until next year, take care of yourselves. And each other.

[Many thanks to Morguefile for the spiffy Christmas images used in this post.]

84 comments:

  1. this is indeed a holiday classic, well worth reading every year. If you haven't already guessed - I'm back - - much like a persistent rash. By the way Happy Belated Birthday (to both of us).

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    1. JON!!!!!! It is SOOOOO good to hear from you again. Indeed, I did think about you on our birthday, and wondered where you were, and how you were doing. I hope you had a wonderful birthday, and in a wonderful place.

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  2. hahahahahahaha
    You don't have to walk around pulling tinsel out of their buts !
    I guess that is your Christmas gift !

    If I don't see another post from you,
    Merry Christmas ! I hope you have a wonderful holiday !

    cheers, parsnip

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    1. HA! Yeah, you're right. Those strands of tinsel trailing out of their butts WERE pretty funny, though.

      And a very Merry Christmas to you, too.

      Cheers back atcha.

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  3. And you don't have to clean up tinselly hair balls either. Decidedly a winner.
    Love the Christmas tale.
    And I hope your Christmas is jam packed with love and laughter.

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    1. No tinselly hairballs, but there have been a few laced with bits of ribbon.

      I'm glad you liked the tale. And here's wishing a very wonderful love-and-laughter jammed Christmas to you, too

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  4. Happy Christmas Susan, and Happy New Year!

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  5. Thanks for the warning. Because of that, I narrowly avoided the occupational hazard of snorting coffee out my nostrils, especially at Grandpa's antics.
    Susan, you are indeed the gift that keeps on giving and every post has been a delight.

    Having a wonderful Christmas and a glorious new year!

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    1. I'm glad you appreciated Grandpa. Only people with exquisite taste, such as you and I, can fully appreciate his antics. Grandma comes in a close second.

      Thank you, dear lady. That is very sweet of you to say.

      And a very Merry Christmas and all the best in the new year to you and your family, too.

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  6. Oh, yes, I remember this story. It HAS become a tradition.

    Nothing says "Christmas" quite like a black spider in a golden web.

    The problem with the "Inflated" is that they don't seem to remain that way for longer than a couple days. I've never gone the "Inflated" route, but I see them all around in my neighborhood... and usually flat and wrinkled on the front lawn.

    >>... "The best one of all!" they'd lie as we pulled into our driveway.

    For us, the key to great outdoor Christmas decorating was "BALANCE!" It didn't matter how many lights and decorations a person used if they didn't have a good understanding of balance when decorating the outside of a house, and HOW to achieve that balance.

    Fortunately for us, our house - although not as overly amped up as many others - ALWAYS exhibited the perfect "Balance!" We'd drive all over the place looking at these incredibly decorated homes, but when we pulled into our driveway we'd say, "Finally! A house that's decorated with the perfect sense of balance!"

    Have a Merry Christmas with Smarticus, Susan.

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

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    1. Yeah, I know what you mean about the black spider in a web exactly screaming "Christmas" to you, but it's from an old story, where a spider wanted to give a gift to the Christ child, so he spun a glorious web.

      No matter how many of those inflated monstrosities I see bobbing (or collapsed) in yards around here, I don't like them. Just don't like 'em. To me, they're tackier than a lawn covered with a flock of plastic flamingos.

      Our outdoor lighting was... and still is... quite modest. There are still some places around here with over-the-top light displays and decorations, but there are also a lot more with no decorations at all.

      You have a very Merry Christmas, too.

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    2. Hey... leave the pink flamingos alone ! I lurve them.
      My friend had one by her bathroom garden and I so wanted to get her a huge flock of them and have her be surprised on her Birthday !

      cheers, parsnip

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    3. HA! I'll admit to a "certain" appreciation for their kitchiness. That's why I included a whole costumed flock of them in my novel.

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  7. excellent inflated story. Very funny. And yes, "Our house" was always decorated the best - ahem. So what if half the strands don't light. We have a new LED tree outside now and of course the star is going wonky already. That's our tradition.

    Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and all the best to you and your family. See ya in 2015

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    1. Thanks. (But I won't let your comment inflate my head or ego...)

      You're right! "Best" is in the eyes (and more importantly, the heart) of the beholder.

      Merry Christmas to you and yours, Joanne. It's been a pleasure getting to know you better. Here's to an even better new year for us all.

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  8. lol what, pulling tinsel out their butts isn't in the holiday spirit? lol oh the fun one can have at christmas time.

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    1. Oh yeah, even without the tinsel-butts and pine needle-breaths, our cats are definitely in the holiday spirit. Every single present I've wrapped has been duly inspected and approved by them... which means chewed ribbons and cat hair decorate all of 'em!

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  9. That old story always gives me a chuckle. The merriest Christmas to you and all the very best in the New Year.

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    1. And a very Merry Christmas to you and your family, too. And all the best in 2015. (Can you BELIEVE that? 2015... OY!)

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  10. First, I must say that I'm just not overly fond of the inflatable decorations. I really prefer a nice light display. Of course, we don't have anything but a wreath on our door (and a small tree inside). Ah... most of the decorations stayed in the box this year.

    Second, I love that Christmas story. I remember it from last year and I enjoyed it thoroughly... again.

    Merry Christmas, Susan!

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    1. I don't like those inflatable things, either. My favorite decoration is a wreath on the door and candle lights in each window. (We have other lights outside, but no candles in the windows. I think the cats would mess with them too much.)

      Merry Christmas to you, too, Robin! And all the best in the new year.

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    2. Every neighbor on our side of the road, for as far as we can see, has those inflatable thingies. They take them down in the day and pump them up at night. My son wants to know why we're the only ones who don't have one. I didn't want to ruin his Christmas joy so I didn't tell him it's because I hate them. ;)

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    3. OMG, it's a conspiracy! That's the only way to explain all the neighbors on your side of the street putting those things in their yard. (I'm soooo sorry... HA!) Um, maybe you can move to the other side of the street next year...

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  11. What a great story! Since I was sick for most of December, I got a slow start on preparing for the holidays. A couple days ago, I decorated the succulent, put out extra candles—which is saying something because I'm a candle fanatic—and threw a Santa hat on my Easter bunny (a new tradition). The place looks positively festive!

    Wishing you and your family the happiest of holidays, Susan!

    VR Barkowski

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    1. Thanks! I'm glad you liked it.

      I'm glad you're feeling better now. I'd like to see a picture of that decorated succulent... The Santa hat on an Easter bunny makes sense to me. We have a Santa hat on Fred... the deer head hanging on our wall. And a wreath-like hat on the bust of Bobby Burns. (Works for us, but I don't think my grandmother would be impressed with that last one... she'd probably do a slow... burn.)

      Here's wishing you a very happy... and healthy... holiday, too.

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  12. A true classic!

    Merry Christmas to you and yours! Enjoy your family time. :)

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    1. Thanks! I thought so, too...

      Merry Christmas to you and yours, too. Enjoy that special grog your hubby made. (If I concentrate, I think I can smell it from here.)

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  13. Susan, I wish you the best in this and all seasons. You're a delight.

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    1. Thanks, dude. I wish the same for you and your family.

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  14. You make me laugh. That is a great gift.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. Cool. And I didn't even have to wrap it!

      Merry Christmas, kiddo.

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  15. We have a few of those neighborhoods visible from the space station around here. They are fun to see, especially since I don't have to do the work (or pay the electric bill).

    I remember your Christmas story from last year, and I still snorted! That's a sign of a great story. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you and Smarticus!

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    1. We have some of those uber flashy houses in the area, but none in our neighborhood. Lots of bah-humbug no lights at all houses in our neighborhood.

      Woo HOO! Hurray for the snort! I'm glad the story still tickled your funny bone.

      A very Merry Christmas to you guys, too.

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  16. I no longer use tinsel since my cat ( like you mentioned) ate a few strands and ran past out guests with silver strands streaming from his butt. I was told it was my best and most original decoration.

    Susan, I hope you have a Merry Christmas and a healthy and happy new year.

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    1. I have a feeling everyone with a cat has experienced the tinsel-out-the-butt scenario at least once. (It WAS funny, though, wasn't it?)

      A very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your family, too.

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  17. That would surely call for passing cranberry sauce through your nose ha ha

    We are more into the old traditional decorations, nothing inflatable here :)

    Merry Christmas Susan, I hope you have a wonderful time with your family.

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    1. Yeah, it would probably make ME snort cranberry sauce!

      Ditto. The inflatables don't float (my boat.)

      Merry Christmas to you, Cindy, and the rest of your family too, Jimmy. And all the best in 2015.

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  18. That story still brings forth a good laugh!
    Have a great Christmas and New Year.

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    1. I'm glad to hear it (because I'll probably rerun it again next year!)

      You have a wonderful Christmas, too, and a very Happy New Year.

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  19. Personally, don't celebrate Christmas but I do wish everyone a happy Festivus. A festivus for the rest of us.

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    1. Okeydoke, well then I wish you your best Festivus ever, and all the best in the new year.

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  20. Hi Susan - what a delightful story .. such fun to read .. and I've some friend who 'd love this .. crazy life we live in .. she did fart off at just the right time though .. but glad she was repaired for future parties ...

    Have a very happy Christmas and New Year fortnight .. see you soon - cheers Hilary

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    1. Hi, Hilary. I'm glad you liked the story. :)

      A very Merry Christmas to you, too, and a bright and happy new year. Cheers!

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  21. You are simply the best Sis. I read the story to the family and we were crying with laughter. Literally wiping tears. Ahhhh...nice one.
    Thanks for the reminder on tinsel butts. I almost forgot and bought some.
    Have merriest of merries and may all your wishes come true. Love you girlie. 12:34

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    1. Well, I'm glad to hear your family appreciates my (ahem) weird... no,make that weird-ISH... brand of humor. I hope you all enjoy a magical Christmas filled with love and laughter. There...feel that? It's a BIG Swiderski hug. Happy New Year. All things bright and beautiful.

      Love you, too, kiddo. 12:34

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  22. I like your traditions! :-) I really do. Thanks.

    Greetings from London.

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    1. Thanks! :) Really.

      Greetings right back atcha.

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  23. Olá amiga, hoje quero agradecer a Deus pelo dom da sua vida, e desejar a você e sua família
    um feliz e santo Natal, cheio de saúde e alegria!!!
    Que seu coração esteja preparado para receber o Menino Deus!!!
    Um grande abraço, Marie.

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    1. Ola, Marie.It's good to hear from you again.

      I wish you and your family a very happy and blessed Christmas, too. And a big hug right back to you.

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  24. I love your nontraditional Christmas tree.

    The inflatable decorations are definitely new. I never saw them as a child.

    Some of my neighbors have this weird Santa decoration where he lies flat on the lawn. He looks like red and white felt, and very flat. He looks like a corpse. Others prop him up against their walls or roofs, which looks better.

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    1. Thanks. It isn't quite the same as the wonderful sweet-smelling evergreen trees we used to have every year, but at least it minimizes the amount of damage our cats can do. (Not that they don't still TRY!)

      That laying-down Santa decoration sounds... um, how can I put this? Different. Yeah, that's it. (But I'll bet he looks better than those inflatables!)

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  25. Oh my goodness Susan.. this was hilarious... we all need a good laugh from time to time... ;)

    I wanted to wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas... enjoy the holidays, I will catch up with you in the New Year ;)

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    1. Cool! I'm glad it tickled your funny bone.

      Right back atcha, kiddo. I wish you and your family a wonderful Christmas, and all the best in the new year.

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  26. I still love the line, "We made the usual small talk of who died, who was dying, and who should be killed!" Somehow Louise never gets old, or cranky and is easily resuscitated when she fizzles out. The best part is that she only needs to go out between Christmas and New Years! Sounds good to me! I also got a kick out of your creative, multi-purpose, Eco-friendly Christmas tree! Have a great time celebrating Christmas with your wonderful family, Susan! Wishing you all a happy and healthy New Year!

    Julie

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    1. HI-ya. I'm glad some of the lines still tickle your funny bone. Hmm, come to think of it, Louise DOES have a few advantages over you and me, doesn't she?

      And you have a very Happy Hanukkah and all the best in the new year to you and your family. As Robin says, "broad hugs" to ya.

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  27. "I passed cranberry sauce through my nose." It's a good thing I wasn't drinking anything when I read that.

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    1. HA! Good thing you paid attention to the heads-up warning about putting your drink down.

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  28. Hi human, Susan,

    In the tradition of my human, Gary, I thoroughly skimmed through your pawsting. You are one funny lady and I bestow the Penny thinks you're funny award.

    My human is into inflatables, but we shall not um expand upon that. Arf!

    All the beast, sorry, best for Boxing Day Eve and arf to a pawesome 2015!

    Pawsitive wishes,

    Penny :)

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    1. Good to know Penny appreciates my humor. So do our cats. They especially think I'm funny when I tell them their hairy butts don't belong on top of the kitchen table, or that they should leave a little room in the bed for Smarticus and me.

      May you have a glorious holiday, and all the best in 2015. It's gonna be a good one!

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  29. HI, SUSAN,

    THAT WAS HYSTERICAL!!!!! Thanks for the holiday cheer and LAUGH! What fun!

    Wishing you and your family the happiest of holidays and ALL THE BEST for the new year!

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    1. Hi-ya, Michael.

      It's good to hear from you, and I'm glad you enjoyed my weird post. I hear you've moved into new digs. I hope you enjoy a bright and beautiful holiday in your new place, and 2015 turns out to be your best year ever, starting with getting yourself a dream agent for your book.

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  30. Thanks for the great post! Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a happy prosperous New Year!

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it! Here's wishing you a very Merry Christmas, too, and all the best in the new year. Wow... 2015! Hard to believe, isn't it?

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  31. Happy Christmas and a Merry New Year to you Susan. Seem to have fallen down badly on restarting my blog ... but I've had a great time reading yours! Take care - have a lovely time and all the very best for 2015!! XXK

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    1. Hi,Karla! It's great to hear from you again. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas, and here's to an even better new year. Maybe you'll get your blog kick-started again after the first of the year. Even if you don't, please keep stopping by.It's always good to hear from you. HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

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  32. Dear Susan,
    I wish you a Merry Christmas! At the moment I have - as most people maybe - a lot to do, but will be soon back in blogland. Enjoy the holiday season! Britta

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    1. Dear Britta,

      Thank you so much. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas, and I'll be looking forward to hearing from you in blogland again... next year. Happy 2015!

      Delete
  33. Oh my gosh! This is hilarious. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas, Susan. Thank you for the smiles here today. :)

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    1. Thanks, Daisy! I'm glad it tickled your funny bone.

      We had a wonderful Christmas, and I hope you and your family did, too.

      And now... HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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  34. Wishing you a very happy & Prosperous New Year.. Thanks for all the support! Keep writing! Keep lighting!… BEST PRAYERS FOR FUTURE!!

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    1. Thank you. And a very Happy New Year to you, too.

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  35. Olá amiga...Feliz ano novo!
    Seguimos nossa caminhada na construção de um mundo mais justo, fraterno, humano, harmonioso e de doação.
    Todos somos promotores da Paz...que começa em nossos corações e se estende a tudo que nos rodeia!!!
    Obrigada por fazer parte da minha história de vida!
    UM ABENÇOADO 2015!!!!

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    1. Thank you, Marie. And a very happy new year to you, too. Your wishes for peace, justice, harmony, and brotherhood are just what the world needs.

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  36. Love this, Yammer. Much laughter, love n all good things to you and yours in 2015 and always. xo

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    1. Thanks, Laura. Right back atcha, kiddo. May the bluebird of happiness poop all over us. So to speak...xo

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  37. Love that story, and the memories that come from decorations of Christmas past!
    May you have the best New Year ever.
    I'm looking forward to a very inflated year!

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    1. Thanks, Yolanda. I'm glad you liked it.

      And a very Happy New Year to you, too! May happiness and hope continue to inflate your dreams and keep them afloat.

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  38. It is a delight to read the story! I loved the vibrant photographs! Wish you a wonderful 2015.

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    1. Thanks, Chirasree! And a very Happy New Year to you, too.

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  39. lol at the kitties. Can't blame 'em for getting some Vitamin D at the window. :) I hope you had lots of good family time! And LOL at the hot ember causing a scene. You and your SIL sound like you could get into some trouble together. :) Happy New Year to you!

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    1. Our cats are a hoot. I'm not saying the household revolves around their needs, or that we treat them like our kids, but... it does, and we do. (Shhhh, don't let 'em know!)

      I'm glad you liked the story, but it wasn't actually about ME or my SIL. (That's my story, and I'm sticking to it!)

      Happy New Year to you, too!

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