A StubbornThings Symposium December 2015
Latest: Throwing a Fit for the Holidays by Kung Fu Zu • Last year’s winning entry (or phrase) was Rosalys’ “…a real, genuine fake tree.” The most heart-warming (in a Little Rita Faye sort of way) was Pat’s story of his wife finding the long-lost song, “I Fell Out of a Christmas Tree.” Some think it should have stayed lost, but that’s another story itself.
We have the highest of literary standards here at StubbornThings. But akin to Rush’s “Open Line Friday,” we relax the standards for these Christmas stories and invite one and all to tell their funny, embarrassing, warm, or poignant stories whether about Christmas Past or stories involving preparing for the current one. (And if you can do Christmas Future, you’re really plugged into the Spirit.)
Submit it here and, if it passes minimum muster (that is, if it isn’t praising B. Hussein Obama for his climate conference or something silly like that), it will be added to this collection, chain-letter style. Hanukkah stories are more than welcome as well from our Jewish brothers and sisters. But no Kwanzaa, please. We don’t do fake holidays.
— The Editor
A Little Rascal in the Making
This next story doesn’t touch on the Christmas Spirit as much as it does on the criminal one. Thankfully the statue of limitations is long past.
Once in a while here on the Left Coast we get a good snow…or used to. I guess it’s global warming or something because we don’t get the kind of snow we used to get as a kid.
But I remember one Christmas as a child when we received a White Christmas from above. I think I was about 14 years old. The snow had been falling and accumulating for several days. And boys being boys, we found a myriad of ways to have some fun in it.
What are some of the favorite things? Well there’s: sledding, making snowmen (with real genitalia), snow angels, making yellow snow, avoiding yellow snow, snowball fights, making snow cones, catching snow flakes on your tongue, and, of course, throwing snowballs at passing cars.
It was this last yuletide activity that almost got us into a little trouble. There was this road near our house that was fairly steep, but a major thoroughfare so it was busy, snow or no snow. This road has a deceptively gently, but problematic, slope and thus lured cars to their tractional doom. So one of the activities was watching these helpless cards spin their tires as people tried to get up a road they had no business attempting. I can still here the angelic chords of spinning rubber.
Anyway, it was torture enough for the drivers just trying to make it up the hill. And given that this was a busy street, there was no way for two kids (I had a cohort) to help stuck drivers. It would be too dangerous even if we held a helpful, Christian-like thought in our heads, which we didn’t.
But for the drivers going down this hill, we were helpful in other ways. To help speed them along we crept to the edge of the road behind a stand of tall fir trees and pelted them with snowballs. It was all fair play. No rocks in the snowballs. No ice balls. Just soft-packed, new-fallen snow. We had our ethical standards, after all.
Well, we were having great fun doing this for some time. Then I heard my friend say something just before he started to run like a bat out of hell for the woods that were about forty yards away. We were throwing these snowballs from behind a thin stand of trees but behind us was an open field. One of the cars we had both pelted while it was going down the hill had come up the hill and turned into the field behind us. I hadn’t noticed this but my friend had.
As they say, you don’t have to run faster than the bear. You just have to run faster than the next guy. And even though my friend got a head start, I soon passed him. We darted into the woods where knowledge of the trails and the overall darkness surely made it difficult for anyone to follow us. We ran in a child-like terror not knowing just what this driver-of-retribution had in store for us. That is, we were scared witless.
I don’t know if the driver (and passengers, if there were any) got out of the car and tried to follow us. But we bolted to my house and hid in the back of the outdoor workshop, huddling and hearing our pursuers in every small branch that rubbed against the shop. After about 10 minutes, we figured the coast was clear and bolted for my friend’s house across the street.
I wish I could say on that very night, tucked in my bed, that the Ghost of Christmas Snowstorm had visited me and set me right. But no Ghost did unless that Spirit was enunciated in those times, as an adult, my own car had been pelted by a snowball or two. And there was no getting mad at or even with the kids when that happened. What snows around comes around.
Santa Never Forgets
In 1943 a cute 4-year-old girl sat on the lap of Santa Claus at the May Company store in Los Angeles, California. She chatted with Santa, told him her Christmas wishes, hugged and kissed him and went on her way. The little girl and her family eventually moved to Alaska, and so did that particular Santa.
The Santa in question was a man known as Dutch Bandy. Dutch was a man with visual and auditory eidetic imagery, that is, he never forgot a face and remembered everything he heard. He loved to play the part of a clown, and he especially adored dressing up and playing Santa Claus.
In 1963 Caribou’s was the largest store in Anchorage and was famous for having the first escalator in Alaska. That year my husband, Bear, was working as a photographer and his company had him taking photos of the kids with Santa at the Caribou Department Store. Dutch Bandy worked as one of the Santas, so they got to know each other and Dutch told Bear a little about his life. He said he worked as a conductor on the Alaska Railroad and hired out as Santa on his days off.
One afternoon a young mother brought her little daughter, who was around 4-years-old, to see Santa. As the mother lifted her daughter onto Santa’s lap Santa said to the mother, “In 1943 I held you on my lap at the May Company Store in Los Angeles. Your little girl looks just like you.” The mother was flabbergasted because she had lived in Los Angeles and knew that she had seen Santa Claus at the May Company. Bear was a little flabbergasted, too.
Another Christmastime Dutch Bandy had been conductor on the 12-hour railroad run from Anchorage to Fairbanks where The Foodland Store had set up Santa Claus in their entryway. Dutch was on lay-over for at least another day so he went to play Santa at that Foodland. He heard all the requests, hugged all the kids and had a great time.
A day or two later Dutch was the train conductor from Fairbanks back to Anchorage and punched the ticket for one of the children, a girl of 4 or 5, he had played Santa for in Fairbanks. He chatted with her and her mother during the trip and helped them with their baggage when they got off in Anchorage.
A few evenings later he was again playing Santa when the same girl came to the Anchorage Foodland and told her mom she wanted to see Santa again. When the girl was settled on his lap Dutch asked if she thought he had forgotten her wishes and wanted to remind him. Her eyes got big and she nodded. Dutch proceeded to correctly restate her every wish and assure her he wouldn’t forget.
Too soon we forget Santa Claus and other thrills of childhood. All of our little children should have the joy of meeting a Dutch Bandy Santa Claus, and do you suppose that those mothers had a bit more faith in the power of the old gentleman?
Update: We Have Found two of Bear’s Dutch Bandy Photos! One is posted, along with a photo of the Welcome to Santa Claus House Sign At North Pole, Alaska.
Enjoy the season, and A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL!
— Anniel is a frequent contributor to StubbornThings and secretly is in the Elf Club.
Throwing a Fit for the Holidays
As a boy, I found the anticipation of receiving Christmas presents to be as thrilling as receiving the actual gifts. I wanted to be surprised on Christmas morning, whatever the present might be. My parents knew this and did their best to cater to my whims. In a family of seven, this could not have been easy.
One December, I must have been around eleven, I gave my parents the mandatory gift wish list. It contained a number of “big ticket” items such as a bicycle and weight set. Such presents were bought well before the big day and had to be stashed away from prying eyes. Being fairly large, they could not all be simply stowed in my parents’ bedroom. Figuring out where to hide the presents for five inquisitive children could be troublesome.
As Christmas drew nearer, the daydreams about what might lay beneath the tree began to spin around my head like a roulette wheel. Where would the little white ball land? I savored the imagining of each and every combination of gifts, which might rest beneath the tree, waiting to be despoiled by my greedy fingers.
In our house, we placed some presents under the tree a few days before Christmas. But the big presents from Santa’s surrogates were only brought out after we had gone to bed on Christmas Eve.
One busy afternoon, my mother or father asked me to fetch something from the large storeroom in our garage. Off I trotted to get whatever it was they wanted. I opened the storeroom door and there stood the present I had requested for Christmas. It was in a large box, waiting to be assembled.
A huge disappointment welled up in me and I started to cry. I ran back to my parents complaining that they had ruined my Christmas. Immediately, my mother knew what had happened and tried to sooth me. She apologized for forgetting the present was in the closet. This did not console me very much and I continued whining for some time.
After some minutes, my father told me to stop complaining and be happy I was getting what I wanted. He also made clear that if I didn’t “put a sock in it” they could take the present back to the store and I would actually have something to cry about.
As I stood there sniffling, that computer called my brain took in the available information, collated it and calculated my options. Out popped a mental punch card which indicated my best course was to shut up and withdraw discretely. Being a precocious child, I followed this advice.
Come Christmas day, my bicycle stood next to the tree and did not look any worse for my having known it would be there. And, in truth, I was very lucky and happy to have it.
I wish all of you at StubbornThings a few unspoilt surprises and a very Merry Christmas.
Kung Fu Zu is a conservative prognosticator who has traveled widely (by sleigh) and lived outside the United States. • (1525 views)