Sunday, December 27, 2009

IMAGES OF CHRISTMAS 2009

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Y'all had a Wonderful and Safe Christmas? I sure hope so.

OK, that's enough of this "niceness" stuffs. Let's get down to it.
I thought I'd post photos of some of the stuffs that made my Christmas special.

First of all, "The Reason For The Season": Below is the Nativity set which has been in our family since before I was born. This 13-piece set was made in Italy and purchased by my Ma the year she married my Pa - 1958. She got it at a J. J. Newberry's five and dime store located on Sunset Boulevard near downtown Los Angeles. This is the ONE house decoration I hope I never have to celebrate a Christmas without. This says it all, and it has always been so dear to me that I haven't the words for it.

Our Nativity set somehow managed to survive in a house with two boys and a girl (and one of those boys was my brother Nappy, the human Tasmanian Devil) but there are signs of wear and tear. One angel got decapitated, another angel got broken in half (praise God for glue!), the shepherd looks like he took a punch to the nose and one of his sheep has lost a foot. I guess an intelligent person would call that a "hoof". Nevertheless, in my eyes, this decoration is a priceless beauty. Irreplaceable in my heart.
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That's Muddy sitting below his Muddy Ornament and waiting to catch a glimpse of Santa Claus. My dear friend the Countess made the ornament for him in 1993, and it's a perfect likeness of the little fella. Muddy? He's my stuffed friend, given to me for Christmas by my Sister in 1983. He's also the subject of my children's book manuscript, 'The Misadventures Of Muddy, A Dirty Yellow Dog.' (Not coming to a bookstore near you anytime soon.)
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Below is one of my favorite Christmas tree ornaments. We have a few of these, which were purchased at the same time and place as our Nativity Set. There's a tin pinwheel inside a clear plastic body, and when these ornaments are hung above a light bulb, the rising heat causes the pinwheels to turn. Very cool, 1950s style Christmas tree ornaments.
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This little Glitter House below was made in West Germany and hung on my Ma's Christmas trees when she was young. When my Sister and I were little, we both developed a fascination with this particular ornament, each of us insisting on having the honor of hanging it. Over the years, a war ensued, each of us trying to be the last to hang it before Christmas morning. She would hide it somewhere, I'd find it and hide it elsewhere. She'd find it and hide it again, and on and on it went until late Christmas Eve.

One year she got me really good: Sister found it, lifted it up off the branch where I had put it, and then rehung it on the same branch. Finding it on the same branch where I had placed it earlier, I assumed I had won. On Christmas morning she revealed how she had bested me. DOH!!! Only a woman could be that devious! Well, Santa could bet his boots that I never fell for THAT trick again.

When Sis was here at my house this Christmas Eve - while Nappy was reading Shannon's 'Rudolph' Unplugged story - I saw her admiring our Christmas tree. I also saw her move the little Glitter House. Nice try, Sis. The first thing I did when she and her family left was... you know what I did - MOVED THE HOUSE! Unfortunately, the House has lost a lot of its Glitter due to the excessive handling over the decades, but everything has its price.
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Ahhh! Good Ol' Santa Claus! He knows what I want to find in my 'A Christmas Story' stocking on Christmas Day! EVERCLEAR Grain Alcohol, 190 proof. It comes with warnings . . .
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"CAUTION!!
EXTREMELY FLAMMABLE
HANDLE WITH CARE" and . . .
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"WARNING!!
OVERCONSUMPTION MAY ENDANGER
YOUR HEALTH" and . . .

"CAUTION: Do not apply to open flame. Keep away from fire, heat and open flame. Contents may ignite or explode."

Of course, Santa knows this stuffs is a little too rough "on the rocks" so he also left me a bottle of 151 proof Bacardi Rum so I could dilute the Everclear to a respectable, drinkable strength in my glass.

I actually used this stuffs to build and maintain the fire in my fireplace on Christmas. Applied it directly to an open flame just like the label warns against. It works great, too! Makes a HUGE fire with lots of pretty blue flames.
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Below are some of the gifts I received on Christmas morning lying under the tree along with the family's 'It's A Wonderful Life' Trivia Game (a.k.a. "Blood Sport"). There's my new 'Disappearing Civil Liberties Mug' (pour in some coffee and watch the Bill Of Rights disappear as you wake up). And there's my 'American Roots Music' DVD box set. And I see argyle sox, and the book 'The Nearest Faraway Place: Brian Wilson, The Beach Boys, And The Southern California Experience' which I will read next, right after I finish the book I'm currently in. And I also see . . .
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. . . the mug that Pooh sent me. Emblazoned on the outside is a photograph taken only minutes after Marcus Allen reversed field and ran for a touchdown in Super Bowl XVIII (1984). We at the Bay Street house were all rooting (violently!) for the Los Angeles Raiders, but Torch - the one League Of Soul Crusaders member who was rooting for the Redskins - was not welcome (or safe) in our company. At one point, he drove to our house, sneaked onto our roof and hung a large banner which read "Go 'Skins! Hog Wild!" and something about John Riggins. At the very moment Marcus Allen was making his spectacular run for the End Zone and we were going wild inside the house, Torch was on the roof. But someone saw him after he jumped down to the lawn and sprinted for his Cadillac, "Tiburon."

Tiburon went screaming down the street as we yanked down Torch's banner and torched it in our front yard.

That's me on the left in the black L.A. Raiders T-shirt, bottle of Coors beer in hand, with Nappy in the center as the banner begins to burn from the bottom up. The second mug Pooh (the photographer) sent shows the banner fully engulfed in flames while the gang stands around cheering (and drinking). Ahhh! What great memories! Those were the daze!
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When we were just wee little tots, our Pa worked with a guy who had written a Christmas song called 'Poppy The Puppy.' If I recall correctly (which is questionable), the songwriter's name was Pat Holiday. We had a record album titled '18 Christmas Songs' on Value Records which contained 'Poppy The Puppy', and this song and album were real favorites of We Three Kids. Well, one day, while the record was playing, Nappy (the human Tasmanian Devil) accidentally broke it in an unsuccessful attempt to leap over the record player. My Ma tried to glue it back together as if it were just another Nativity set angel. Ha! Not THIS time, Ma.

Well, I still put the old record cover and the broken record out as a house decoration all these years later. And not a Christmas has passed since then during which my Sister and I have failed to mention the broken record and given Nappy dirty looks and nasty words.
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Well, this year, on Christmas Day, Nappy and his guilty conscience (sick and tired of hearing about 'Poppy The Puppy') got on the computer and did a Google search for the song. To his great surprise and delight, he found that there exists a Gene Autry compact disc titled 'The Complete Columbia Christmas Recordings' which features 'Poppy The Puppy.' So, Nappy has vowed to buy us this album to atone for the crime - nay, "sin" - he committed about 40 years ago. He believes he will never have to hear about 'Poppy The Puppy' ever again. But I believe it's only a matter of time before he breaks the Gene Autry disc and Sis and I can go back to our "Traditional Christmas Criticism."
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I hope your Christmas was equally filled with fun, traditions, and surprises (and Everclear, if it's legal in your state).

Bless And Be Blessed.

~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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6 comments:

Stephen Tremp said...

LOL! Gotta laugh at the leg lamp stocking from the Christmas Story. The father looking at the word FRAGILE on the shipping ct=rate. "FRA-GEE-LEE. It must me Italian."

Stephen Tremp

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

Yo! Stephen. Stephen here. :o)
Yeah, that movie is just one great scene after another. And I think that entire sequence where Ralphie goes to see Santa Claus and his impatient elves at the department store probably makes me laugh harder than any other scene in any other movie. But I have a bit of a dark, sick, twisted streak in my personality, so it makes sense that bit would appeal to me so much.

As for the leg lamp... I'd say that 8 or 9 times out of 10 when I see the word "fragile" written somewhere I say, "Fra-Gee-Lay! It must be Italian." Those people nearby who hear me and don't know what I'm quoting from must think I'm ridiculously stupid. Ha! Well, heck, they could be right.

~Stephen, too.
<"As a dog returns to his own vomit,
so a fool repeats his folly."
~Proverbs 26:11>

mousiemarc said...

You have some artifacts in your family. Cool.

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

`
Old School stuffs
for Old School folks.

~ "Lonesome Dogg" Stephen

Mr. Paulboy said...

Having no brothers or sisters, I missed such competitions as your family had. I always counted myself lucky for being an only child, as my friends always complained bitterly about their siblings. They would have their stuffs stolen, be bloodied in fist fights, and be blamed unfairly for their brother's villainy.

But I know that I missed something fun, also. Your stories of family paint that picture well.

My mother had her own little traditions for me, also. I always loved matchbox cars, and every Christmas she would hide three in the tree somewhere. The first year she did not tell me, but left me to discover it on my own. I was more and more diligent each year... until I finally grew too old to appreciate them quite so much. Then she stopped. I wish I still had them.

But someone else's brother snuck into our house one day and stole my whole collection. Oh well! I have the memories!

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

MR. PAULBOY #VI ~
Ahhh! Well, that certainly explains an old mystery: I often wondered how my Brother had collected so many Matchbox Cars seemingly overnight.

~ Stephenboy
<"As a dog returns to his own vomit,
so a fool repeats his folly."
~ Proverbs 26:11>