Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Christmas Memories - 2

11. My best friend (BF) told me of a Christmas custom started by her mother-in-law(MIL). For lack of a better name I'll label it The Hat Box. As I remember, one Christmas MIL put BF's gift in a old tattered hat box and hide it.

At the family gathering, BF was instructed to follow a string to retrieve her gift. Someone was very creative with the string as it winded throughout the 2-story house and maybe a basement, through closets, and every imaginable and unimaginable nook and cranny. BF said it was better than any maze puzzle or mine field problem, provided much exercise up and down stairs, and humor to the family gathered.

Voila! it ended at a tattered old hatbox which contained her gift. The Hat Box became a tradition at the family Christmas gathering. The duty of the Hat Box gift was passed to the recipient of the previous year. The gift was sometimes white elephant, humorous, or great value, which enhanced the mystery.

After hearing of the tradition, my group of friends adopted a similar HAT BOX, but it took us a long time to find a tattered hat box at a yard sale. Our hat box is literally held together with scotch and duck tape. However, we did not include the "follow the string" tradition.

Currently, The Hat Box resides at my house. I think my husband received it last year. However, we have suspended celebrations this year to dedicate ourselves to serving others less fortunate than ourselves.

Of course, there is always those less fortunate than ourselves, but it is so apparent this year in our area. Regularly, the food pantry shelves are empty. Utilities are shut off for non-payment. Homes with elderly and children are too hot or too cold.
Families cannot afford medical care. Persons are living in cars, some inoperable.

My group of friends have jobs or are retired with various incomes and retirement pay. Yes, some of it is fixed income, and some employees are being furloughed, but we all have some income, and all of us could probably cut things we consider necessities which are not..........hmmm, like TV Cable service, or at least a lower priced tier???!!! Ever heard of a radio? No fees, music, sports, etc. all free.

There are elderly persons, and perhaps poor families who still listen to TVs in their homes, or it has long since become silent. During the 1000 year ice storm earlier this year, we did not have a single portable radio in the house, but at the time 5 TVs....overkill and non-functioning for 10 days as electricity was off.

12. The idea of service was the genesis of the Christmas Dinner, BF and I organized in 1996 and continued for about 5 years. I was recovering from kidney cancer surgery. BF, I and others were sitting around discussing the approaching holiday season. I said, I was considering volunteering in a nearby town that served a Christmas Dinner on Christmas Day, sponsored by the owner of a nursing home.

BF said, "Why don't we just do one in Bull Shoals?" We looked at each other; a light bulb beamed brightly. The first year was somewhat disorganized. The same nursing home owner donated food and tutored us in preparation and organization.

We morphed it to fit our locale which has many persons living alone without any family. Although we directed our publicity to this group, no one was turned away. Deliveries were to housebound only, and we decided to include the county jail; inmates do not get home-cooked food, only packaged frozen meals.

The meal was free, and we served noon to 3 or 4 p.m. We asked for reservations, but no one was turned away. We delivered to area shut-ins and the county jail. My memory is somewhat faded, but I think the first year we served over 100 people.

Each year the Christmas Dinner attendance grew exponentially. We had musical entertainment, plus the kitchen crew sang, "and a partridge in a pear tree" every time we asked a question and BF, the kitchen sergeant and chef, had no answer. It's a wonder the participants came back next year!

Finally, when our attendance reached over 400, we realized capacity to continue was exceeded in every area. The personnel, facilities and seating space were not capable of handling any greater demand. Since the location was City Hall, the event unfortunately became somewhat politicized. It was time to pass the baton.

Gratefully, the local VFW took the baton and the event continues today.

The first year I remember taking my meal and sitting by a small elderly man who was eating by himself. He told me how delicious the meal was and added, "I usually just have cheese and crackers on Christmas Day." I suppose our feeling of fulfillment with this event has led us to the decisions we have made for 2009.

I know I am happier not knocking myself out with our traditions of frantic shopping for "stuff" and a meal most of us do not need.

I dispensed with my Christmas newsletter and Christmas cards--not because of postage rates, but I doubt anyone wants to hear how many times I visited doctors, and all my ailments. This is my impression of 2009. We did have a nice week's vacation at a resort near here which would be fodder to a funny movie, a la National Lampoon's Griswold Family Christmas Vacation, which I have already seen this year, as I do every year. I have the DVD.


To continue my infatuation with the 12 Days of Christmas, here is an alcoholic parody which I caution no one the attempt!

Twelve Drinking Days of Christmas
On the first day of Christmas the barman brought to me
A large Long Island iced tea

On the second day of Christmas the barman brought to me
Two margaritas
And a large Long Island iced tea

On the third day of Christmas the barman brought to me
Three vodka Red Bulls
Two margaritas.. hic!
And a larsh Long Island iced tea

On the fourth day of Christmas the barman brought to me
Four Tequila slammers
Free vokka rebbuls
Two margaritash
And a larsh Long Island Ishe Tea

On the fiff day of Chrishmas the barman brought to me
Five G and Ts
Four Tequila slammers
Three vodka bedruls
Two maggaritas
An a larsh lonilanishe Tea

On the Sicksh day of Chrishmas the barman brought to me
Six Harvey Wallbangers
Five G an' Ts
Forty quila slammers
Three rodka vedbuls
Two maguerites
And Allah's longilandicetea

On the seventh day of Chrishmas the barman brought to me
Seven gin martinis
Six Warvey Hallbangers
Five T and Gs
Four Tequila shlammers
Three vodka redbulls
Tomb aga ritas
An a large tong island ice lea

On the eighth day of Chrishmas the barman brought to me
Eight Bacardi breezers
Seven djinn martinis
Six Heavy bangers
Five Giant 'E's
Four Sequila Tammers
Vree todka redbulls
To mar guerillas
And a large long island ticed ea.

On the ninth day of Chrishmash the braman bought to me
Nine Black Russians
Eight Bacardi thingies
Seven mingatinis
Six wavy headbanges
Five Geeantees
Four Tacky slimmers
Free vodka redbulls
Two macaronis
An a large long island eyesh..HiC!

On zzhe tenf day of Chrishmash the barman brought to me
Ten pina coladas
Nine Rack blussians
Eight breecardi barzers
Seven gin tarminis
Six Harvey Ballwangers
Five G and Tease
Forty killer's lambers
Bree rodka vedfulls
Two senoritas
An a long larsh island eyeshtee

Onalevenf dayachrish mush the barman broughtamee
'Leven double visions
Ten pinka ladadas
Nine Rush Blackans
Eight Big mardi geezers
Seven gym art teenies
Six Warvy Hurlbangers
Five Geeunteesh
Four tuck eel us lamb us
Free rodkul vedpas
Two garmoritas
And an eye long large Iceland tea

Onna shwelf dayak rishmusha barman brought to me
Zhe bill.... thasha fur kurralorra money
Hopee tayksha shek forra:
Twenny pina coladas
Twennysheven black russkis
Furrytoo bacardi whatsish
Furryfife Grandma teenies
Furtyshix Heavy Wallbingers
Furtyfive Gin and Its
Turtythoo Sick iller tammers
Twenysheven Vodbul Redkas
Twenny garmartiras
And eleven long Island Iced Teas

Merry Chrishmush. Hic!

If you wish to read a humorous, but somewhat vulgar rendition, follow this link.
Post Script: Apologies for typos and incorrect spellings. It seems the spell check feature has died in my composing and HTML windows today. Wonder what Blogger had messed up now. I am using the older composing version. Maybe it is no longer allowed.


Sniffles and Smiles said...

What a wonderful idea for your community!!! Wish more communities would take up the banner as well!!! Giving is what it is all about, isn't it? Love it!!! And your 12 days of Christmas? Hilarious...I thought the misspellings added to the humor of it... ;-) Love you, Janine XO

Carol @ TheWritersPorch said...

WONDERFUL !! This was great reading! Your a very talented writer! :)

The Prodigal Tourist said...

Sounds like a very rewarding project--and I really love the hatbox idea...still a Christmas nut, what can I say.

Amber Star said...

Do not worry about typos. *LOL* I was reading the activity sheet they were going to give my in laws, but I figured she would incerate the newsletter. I started reading it and one of the activities is "The Red Hate Group", I thought she might fit in fine or I could volunteer to type their nesletter. The spelling was awful, but funny as could be.

I think it is/was very noble of you and your friend to start a place where people can get a hot meal on Christmas Day. Can you imagine how lonely it is for some. I can. And I think I'll go dig out that letter from the Food
Bank and send them something for the meal they put on.

Oh yes...the Christmas tradition. My youngest and oldest daughters have a fruit cake that has been around for a LONG time. Just when we think the fruit cake has been lost in a move or finally disintegrated or something one of them will open it and here we go again. They never give it to anyone else. That is a funny tradition and I wonder if they will ever include their sister in law on that thing. It is ancient.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed the read.

Thanks for the visit.

Arkansas Patti said...

The dinners were a wonderful project and it sure did grow. Glad you could find a group to take up the baton. Giving sure does beat the pure living heck out of getting. You and hubby have it right.
Sorry but I am a bit woozy from reading the alcholic version of the 12 days. Need to go lay down.

NitWit1 said...

An attribution note: the 12 Days of Christmas parodies are gleaned from the Internet. I claim NO authorship.

Like AR Patti- my eyes were crossed by the time I finished trying to read the alcoholic parody!

Small City Scenes said...

What a fun post. At one place I worked thay had the silly present and the last one to receive it then presented it the following year and in a long convoluted way the new recipient found it.

What a nice deal to help out at this time of the year. MB