Although a plethora of people wished me the merriest of Christmases, their wishes were in vain. We did not have a completely satisfactory Christmas because we did not have our usual complement of folks and friends.
The Justin Dooley family did not make it to the ranch this year for Christmas. What happened?
Maralyn, our youngest daughter, her husband Justin, and their boys Wyatt and Cole, were about to go to the airport and fly to the ranch from their home in the south when their plumbing blew up in some fashion and engulfed their whole house in many inches of water. As no plumber was available, they had to cancel their flight to the ranch.
Anyhow, we missed that part of our extended family but had otherwise adequate companionship and presents galore. With an otherwise bountiful life, we have it very good indeed. However, 3,100 airplane flights were canceled on Christmas day… and the telly showed long lines of would-be flyers stranded in airports all around the country… so maybe our no-shows were just a drop in the bucket .. and not all that unique .
Don’t spend two dollars to have your shirt dry-cleaned. Just give it to the Salvation Army. They will have it cleaned and put on a rack for sale and you can buy it for 75 cents.
As a sidebar, the DN is full of articles about folks not so fortunate as ourselves who have been provided food, drink, clothing and presents and being looked after by service clubs and the like. Years ago, B. Cornelius, one of our fellow columnists, was bereft of an apparent feckless father… but benefitted from an industrious mother who waited tables in the old Tremont Hotel and managed to have, for her brood, a Christmas package or two and some food on their table.
About this time of the year I reprint my father’s account of a Christmas back in New Jersey on the snowy Minch Farm years ago…and his industrious not-to-be-denied mother.
“1915 was a bad winter in New Jersey; Roads closed for a good part of the time with snow drifts and water pipes frozen most of the time. About two weeks before Christmas my father came down with “La Grippe” which, as usual, turned into pneumonia. A day or two later the first of us six children broke out with the measles.
Mother had been able to go to town just before father was taken sick, and had purchased our Christmas presents, that is, one apiece, also some brazil nuts and California navel oranges to fill the stockings that we hung up under the mantelpiece Christmas eve.
But until Christmas day itself, no one could get a tree for her. By then all of us were down either getting over or breaking out with the measles. The hired man who did the chores didn’t feel so good and didn’t want to get her a tree. Mother was keeping house with no outside help and with cooking and nursing us children sick her time was well taken up. However, she never gave up and if she could not have gotten a tree any other way, she would have taken a hammer and nails and built one.
As it was, she put on boots and heavy clothes and went out into the swirling snow. She walked to the house of an (African-American) family and finally, by offering him a dollar, persuaded him to get us a tree. He cut a small cedar about six feet high and dragged it back to the house. While we sat or lay around, we watched our mother saw off the base of the tree to make it square, and trimmed off the bottom limbs. She stood the tree up in a specially constructed box that after two weeks of holding up the Christmas tree, which was consigned to a loft over the wagon shed until the next Christmas. For imitation snow, she got rolls of cotton batting that was saved year after year along with the boxes of fragile Christmas ornaments.
Then, taking long strings of freshly popped and strung popcorn, she wound them around and around the tree. After carefully placing the ornaments, the last touch was the miniature candy animals that were made of yellow and red candy, each one tied to the end of a bough. Next morning, when we were allowed to get up, it was still snowing and the outdoors looked dark and dreamy. But inside, the tree in the light of the kerosene lamps looked beautiful, and the packages of games spread out at its feet, and the mantle with the full stockings completed the picture of another happy Christmas for us children.”
Dave Minch 1900-1964
Worth a repeat:
A guy has a talking parrot with strings on both ankles. A visitor asks, “What happens if I pull one string?” The owner says, “He will sing the Star Spangled Banner.
The visitor says, “ Really? What if I pull the other string? The owner says, “He will recite the Boy Scout Oath.” “Really? And if I pull both strings at once?”
The parrot squawks and says, “I will fall on my ass!”