Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Comes Whenever It Wants

Christmas comes early and often for the Ewing family.  Santa forced his chubby butt down our chimney in the wee early morning hours this Sunday and he's coming back on the 25th.  Its two solid weeks of Christmas revelry.

We've kept him unusually busy over the years for the simple reason that we're not afraid to sidle one of the holidays out of its normal spot if it serves us - we make them work for US, not the other way around. 

I believe it was about 1989 that Dad got sick of hauling wrapped presents all the way to Macon, unwrapping them, then loading them all back up so, Mom just up and moved Christmas.  Does that mean we get an excessive amount of Christmas booty and we should be ashamed of our wanton destruction of Christmas and its substitution with a day marked by the expression of greed in its purest form?
No, of course not

But it was unprecedented.  No one in our family knew what to expect.  Could Santa still find us? "Was he even ALIVE?"; a question Uncle Robert casually intoned into the keyhole of the coat closet where he'd locked me to think about it.

1989 was an emotional year, full of uncertainty and doubt. Would I get everything I wanted like a good American always should?  "Did Santa allocate gifts in direct proportion to the size of your house (small houses - small gifts)?"  "Was "Santa" really an anagram for "Satan" and was I certain "Santa" didn't take anything when he "broke into" our house?"  - all questions thoughtfully posed by Uncle Robert.

No one seemed to have the answers, but my cousins and I agreed - smoking one last Carlton Menthol purlioned from Gma's purse would be the least of our naughty-list worries.  Plus, we knew she'd fib for us if we got nabbed by humorless parents and do-gooder aunts; staunchly claiming she "gave us" a few Christmas cigarettes and not to worry, "they're ultralights" - just to keep us out of trouble.

It was my older cousin, Seth, who executed a perfect smoke ring from his perch on the highest peak of Gma's roof and sagely suggested that Santa was like God and Granddad - immortal and always watching.  Then, he stubbed out the glowing coal on an asphalt shingle and casually flicked the butt high over my head. Impressed with his technique, I watched it fly across the roof rapidly losing speed and falling in a perfect arc -straight down the chimney.  It disappeared from sight; immediately thereafter (we were told) to drop two stories straight down, bounce twice across the hearth and roll to a stop in the center of the den floor - right in front of the television.

We didn't know we were pinched until we heard Granddad's voice bellowing up the brick flue "I'VE TOLD YOU TO STAY OFF THE ROOF. YOU ARE GOING TO BURN THE HOUSE DOWN AROUND MY EARS AND I AM GOING TO HAVE TO KILL YOU."

It's a good thing Christmas comes twice.

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