(Editor’s note: Cap’n John Krissongs, our regular contributor, informed us that he had always wanted to start one of his columns with the phrase, “Once upon a time…”.)
Once upon a time, back on September 21, 1897, long before even someone like myself was born, someone who is accumulating years like a tortoise I might add, a little girl from New York named Virginia O’Hanlon wrote a letter to the editor of the now defunct New York Sun newspaper, looking for reassurance. She chose the paper because, as she stated in her letter, “Papa says if you see it in the Sun, it’s so”, and that was more than enough credibility for her enquiry.
It seemed some of her friends had told her that there was “no Santa Claus” and she entreated the editor, a man named Francis Pharcellus Church, to “Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?” Mr. Church responded in a now world-famous editorial that, in fact, Virginia, there is absolutely no Santa Claus, and that the little girl should stop her whining and complaining and get back out in the kitchen and get the dishes done and the floors mopped. (Mr. Church was apparently a Republican, and like most members of the GOP, was already looking for a return to the halcyon years of the 1950s, even though they were still 50+ years in the future.)
Okay, I was just funnin’ you guys…what Mr. Church actually said was, yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, in a lengthy, heart-warming and poignant piece that has since become the most reprinted newspaper editorial in history.
In counterpoint to Mr. Church’s position, we have a scene from the 1935 Marx Brothers movie, A Night At The Opera , which for my money is one of the funniest movies ever filmed, wherein Fiorello, played hilariously by Chico Marx, an agent representing tenor Ricardo Baroni, was negotiating the singer’s contract with Mr. Otis B. Driftwood, who was played by Groucho, who was (sort of) representing the New York Opera Company. (The entire runup to this scene is WAY too long to recount here…just go with the above.)
Driftwood pulls two copies of a “contract” out of his inside coat pocket, hands one to Fiorello and the two men begin, with much hilarity, to debate the various articles. (Driftwood: “The party of the first part in this contract will be known as the party of the first part.” Fiorello, in his thick Italian accent: “No, thassa’ no gud.”)
They finally get down to the bottom of the document, and the dialogue is thus:
“Fiorello: Hey, wait, wait. What does this say here, this thing here?
Driftwood: Oh, that? Oh, that’s the usual clause that’s in every contract. That just says, ‘if any of the parties participating in this contract are shown not to be in their right mind, the entire agreement is automatically nullified’.
Fiorello: Well, I don’t know…
Driftwood: It’s all right, that’s in every contract. That’s what they call a sanity clause.
Fiorello: Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! You can’t fool me. There ain’t no Sanity Clause!”
(Reader will please insert rim-shot here.)
Having never met the gentleman, I cannot personally attest to his existence, although I do recall being a believer when I was a mere lad, back many, many, many years ago. (Many.)
But what this debate brings to mind is the plethora (that is SUCH a good word…plethora, plethora, plethora, plethora…thank you) of the unusual and frankly rather strange beliefs and customs that surround the Christmas holiday, ones that probably wouldn’t be tolerated for a lesser holiday like Cinco de Mayo or Arbor Day.
~ Hanging mistletoe…when I was a youngster (many, many, etc.) I thought that mistletoe was a fungus that afflicted astronauts, much like athletes are afflicted by athlete’s foot; it was only later in my life that I learned that mistletoe is in fact the “common name for obligate hemiparasitic plants in the order Santalales, that are attached to their host tree or shrub by a structure called the haustorium, through which they extract water and nutrients from the host plant”, which doesn’t say much for their character frankly. Why we suspend this parasite above doors and archways in our homes, requiring two people (it used to be a man and a woman, but I think that rule has been suspended) to share a kiss when standing beneath its leafy presence, thereby giving occasion to the possibility of passing a deadly disease from one person to the other is beyond me.
~ Eggnog…I am assured by many of my friends and acquaintances that eggnog is in fact tasty and delicious, but I’m not buying into that hype. I think it’s a covert attempt by the National Dairy Council to encourage greater consumption of moo-cow products and ensure our heightened dependence on them. The point is that this “Christmas custom” of consuming copious quantities of dairy wouldn’t fly on Independence Day, which of course makes sense, when you consider all the beer that’s available for that holiday.
~ Fruitcake…it is a largely unknown fact that there have never been more than several hundred fruitcakes produced in the entire history of this country, and that they were made many, many, many years ago, when I was a youth. (Many.) Since they are never actually consumed, being largely inedible, and are merely recycled, Christmas after Christmas, after being stored all year in a pantry or cupboard by last year’s recipient and then forwarded to a new owner the following year, making more of them would be pointless. Do these things have a shelf life? Do they ever spoil? What’s the secret ingredient that guarantees their longevity? I guess it doesn’t make any difference how fresh they are, because nobody ever eats them anyway, but that solid brick of candied fruits and nuts (sounds like a description of my ex-in-laws) sitting in (on) its can in your closet may very well have been around since Colonial days. Yuck.
~ Elf on a shelf…whoever thought up this travesty ought to be taken out, drawn and quartered, stretched on “the rack” and then summarily shot at dawn. (Although I think the “goose on a moose” thing is pretty funny.)
FLASH! FLASH! FLASH!
We interrupt this blog post to bring you a Breaking! News! Story! from the RUKME News Desk…
-Dateline Washington D.C.
“GOP Senators Demand Congress Provide ‘Special’ Christmas Gift For President”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch “Turtle Boy” McConnell announced today that Republicans in the Senate are demanding that legislation be passed by Congress to give a “special” Christmas gift of 500 bajillion dollars, tax-free, to President Donald “Tweety Bird” Trump, as a holiday bonus to “recognize his immense contributions to this country during his only term in office”. When Mr. McConnell was asked by RUKME Political Correspondent Joy Totheworld if this unprecedented gift was really a bribe to mollify the President and to keep him from skewering the careers of the various Republican Senators with his constant and vicious “tweets” any time they anger him, the Majority Leader said that Christmas would again fall on December 25th this year. Mr. McConnell then gave Ms. Totheworld the finger and left the podium.
More on this breaking story as it becomes available…
We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog post.
I have received a number (a very small number) of letters, emails, texts and telegrams (an ancient form of Instagram), asking about the many unusual traditions surrounding the Christmas holiday, things like Black Friday, mall Santas and the cooking of various once-winged fowl as the Yule dinner which I thought I would share with you, my loyal readers.
“Dear Cap’n John:
I travel a great deal for my job and I thought that I would give ‘the little woman’ an extra-special gift this year to keep her company during those long, lonely hours when I’m absent. I saw a device on one of those Internet ‘adult toys’ sites called an Extreme Uber Mega Battery-Driven 15” 20 Pound Vibrator, but the ad said it required a 12-volt Sears DieHard battery (not included). I’d love to get her this but I’m wondering if you know of any alternative power source (solar maybe?) that could run this little baby, since I don’t want to be replacing DieHards, which are expensive, very often?
Traveling Tom from Tennessee”
Get her the vibro but attach it to a pull-start gasoline generator…that oughta’ keep her electrons flowing freely.
Is it true you can take a 10 pound fruitcake, soak it in Ty-D-Bowl overnight, apply a thin coating of KY Jelly then attach it to a pull-start gasoline generator for 3.863 hours and it will spontaneously grow an obese Republican Presidential candidate with thin blond hair, an orange face and the morals and ethics of a pedophile used-car salesman? Or is that just another holiday myth?
Curious Connie in Cambridge
That reminds me of the story about the lady that went to her doctor because she had questions about having anal sex, and when she asked the doc if she could get pregnant that way, the doctor said of course, where do you think Donald Trump came from?
My husband voted for President Trump, and now I’m wondering if I should remove our Christmas turkey from the oven early, before it reaches 165° internal temperature, which would allow any salmonella bacteria to thrive due to undercooking, and then feed it to Mr. GOP and see what develops? And how easy is salmonella poisoning to detect in an autopsy? Thanks.
Married to a Moron in Maine
I don’t know about all that, but if it works, please let me know, ‘cause I’m pretty sure there are a lot of my readers who would LOVE to have that recipe.
That’s all the time I have to answer your holiday questions today, loyal readers; in the meantime, just remember the lyrics from the famous Christmas song…
“You better watch out, you better not cry,
You better not pout I’m telling you why,
Santa Claus is dead.”
Love and ornaments,