Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - December 24, 1971, Lethbridge, Alberta
4 THE LETHBRIDGE HERAID Friday, December 24, 1971 Fraser Hodgson Recollections of a Christmas past Christmas card credit By Art Buchwald w Our friend the Car- bunkles really take their Christinas cards seriously. Perhaps it is because Mr. Carbunkle works in the credit office of a department store. On Dec. 1 we received a card from the Carbunkles with a photograph of the fam- ily, and inside "Warmest wishes for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from all the Carbunkles." I remembered the card, because I had commented to my wife how well every- one in the Carbunkle family looked, though Carbunkle himself seemed to be putting on weight. We thought nothing of it until two weeks later when we received another card from the Carbunkles which had stamped on the envelope "Second Notice." I opened it and inside there was a print- ed note which read: "Two weeks ago you were sent a Christmas card fronr the Car- bunkles wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Probably due to the rush of the holiday season you were unable to acknowledge it. While we are very understanding of your situation, we would like to remind you that your Christ- mas card is one week past due, and we are hoping you will attend to this matter at your earliest convenience. Sincerely yours, the Carbunkles." I meant to do something about it, but it slipped my mind. My wife, who is sup- posed to look after Christinas cards, also let it slip her mind, and three days later in a yellow envelope arrived a third card. This time all the holly and mistletoe dec- orations bad been removed and hi red let- ters stamped on the front was: "Third No- tice." I opened it up and a note said, "Sir, It has been called to our attention that you are now two weeks in arrears on sending our family a return Christmas card. Nothing would please us more than to carry you right through the holiday sea- son. But this would be impossible because if carried you. then we would have to carry our other friends, and then we would soon be out oi the holiday greeting busi- ness. "When we sent you our Christmas card on Dec. 1, we assumed that you would send us one back by return mail. "To put it bluntly, you owe us one sea- son's greetings plus a 'Joy to the World' as interest. We are enclosing a self- ao'dressed envelope for your convenience and would appreciate your remittance im- mediately." My wife became very upset about the notice. I accused her of letting the first two slip by in her typical sloppy book- keeping fashion. She said the Carbunkles were originally my friends, and I should have handled their return greetings through my office. "Look." I said, "we don't have any cards left. They've waitc'l this long, they can wail tmtii New Year's. Besides, we owe our holiday respects to the Geyelins and the Krafts before we pay our greet- ings back to the Carbunkles." Just two days ago we received a reg- istered special delivery letter from the Miserecordia Collection Agency. The letter read, "The Carbunkles have turned1 over your bad debt Christmas greet- ings to this office and have asked us to collect it for them immediately. "We are hoping you give us no diffi- culty in this regard as we have methods of collecting holiday wishes that are not pleasant. Tt would he to your advantage to send to us not only your Christmas and New Year Best Wishes, but also to in- clude several 'Peace on Earths' to com- pensate for all the trouble you have caused our client. Unless we hear from you by return special delivery registered mail, we will see lo it thai you will be listed as a bad Christmas card risk and will never receive another greeting. This is ynur last warning." (Toronto Sun Service) Greetings By Doug Walker j would like In try to put clown my recollection of a Christmas we had in the early thirties, when we lived on the farm. Just mentioning that par- ticular time brings hardtlme memories to a lot of people, but we seemed lo have plenty of everything we really needed. The old car was somewhat shabby and battered, our clothes showed signs of being well worn, nobody got any ex- pensive gifts, and most people stayed close lo home. We lived in the mixed farming district north of Cal- gary, and ours was really mix- ed, everything from a diary herd of 30 or more, to a few of nearly every other kind of. slock kept in the district. There was a large family and some hired help, so believe me there was never a dull mo- ment around that farm home. But the approach of Christmas seemed to bring on an added undercurrent of excitement, even if there was no room for any more. Several days before Christ- mas day everyone started doing a little extra .so the big day could be celebrated with few chores to do. Most of the everyday work couldn't be done ahead of time, but a lot could and all possible was taken care of. The cows couldn't be milked ahead of time, and everything had to be fed, watered, and cleaned daily, but we cut the work down quite a bit. I even got the old tractor started and ground all tli? storage bins full of chop. The women worked hard in the house, and for days there was no snooping around the kitchen for cake or cookies be- tween meals. I got roped into murdering the turkey and three big fat hens. I wasn't fussy about that job, but somebody had to do it and I lost the draw. There was always lots to eat around that house at all times, but this was going to be extra. I often wondered how cooks kepi ahead of a bunch of hungry people, but. I suppose it would be like feeding the stock, they had to foresee the de- mand and keep a supply on hand. The younger kids were con- tinually cautioning everyone to stay out of certain drawers and cupboards, because they had surprises hidden all over, and changed the spot about twice a day. All the older ones and grownups drew names, and had only one to buy a present for, and a standard price was set. This was a good idea, as we had everything but money, and something worthwhile could be bought for one tat not a dozen or more. I remember I drew one of my several broth- ers-in-law, and he thought at first I'd got him a crazy gift, an 8-inch Crescent wrench. But he used it for many years till he lost it from his truck. We fastened the tree into an apple box and put it in one cor- ner of Ihe frvnt room. One of the Ixiys had brought it from the west country with a load of firewood. The kids hung so many decorations on it, includ- ing yards of strung popcorn, that wa had to unload it a little to keep the branches off the floor. Mysterious lumpy par- cels appeared under it every day, until by Christmas eve the comer was full. Christmas programs at the church and school, got the younger kids wound up till their mam springs were ready to snap, if the day didn't soon arrive. We did the usual amount of seat squirming at these productions, wondering which ones would fall down or forget their lines. The older ones did their share of teasing about whether Santa Clans could make it over the bad roads, and one smart one pointed out that he didn't use reindeer and sleigh any- more, he flew an airplane. An- other put off writing till he thought it might be too late. He cheered up some when told there was still time if he show- ed us the letter, then put it in the stove with a feather attach- ttached, Like all long-awaited days, Christmas Eve finally ar- rived. The young ones had an hour of changing their minds a doz- en times after supper, about where to hang their stocking.! and what lunch to leave out for Santa Claus. It was finally set- tled by older heads, that just cookies was all that was neces- sary, because Santa knew he could help himself to all the milk he wanted from a can down at the wellhouse. II took another hour for the lasl one to gel a drink, make one trip out- side, and one lasl check on the 1S71 lj NEA, Int.. "We all know these are times of economic uncertainty, but you f'ust HAVE to project a more confident 'Ho! Ho! front room before they drifted off lo sleep. We sat around eating Santa's lunch while some of the wom- en did his job of bringing pre- sents, and though mosl of us didn't jump up to help in any way, we provided plenty of sug- gestions. I thought I should make sure our son's wind-up train would work before Santa put it under the tree, and that look some time because of the expert help that tried to assist. Gelling it packed back in the box took more time, and we never found one thumb-tack till I started upstairs in my sock feet. The wild yelp brought a call from up there wondering if Santa had fallen off the roof. Tlie lamplight shining out the window, siiowed a few stray flakes of snow drifting along. Christmas Eve was well start- ed. I had the alarm clock, and 1 just got my eyes shut when it jangled me awake. It was the usual five o'clock call, and after I got the kicthen stove and cellar furnance going, I slopped outside and choked on the first lungfull of frozen air as 1 headed for the cowbarn. The sky was clear now, but a cou- ple of inches of new snow crushed and squeaked under my overshoes, and my lantern cast moving shadows in the sharp air all the way to the frosty trees across the road. The cows had heard me com- ing, and were on their feet or getting up when I opened the door. There was no way lo tell whether they had all got on their knees io pray at midnight or not, but if the old legend held true they did. Of course they wouldn't do it if anyone stayed up to watch. Anyway they were now very much in- terested in breakfast, and a few minutes later the gang strag- gled in with pails and cans to start the never-ending milk op- eration. It was well past seven when we all banged into the kitchen Doppelganger's donations By Richard J. Nceclhaui, in The Toronto Globe and Hail CHRISTMAS wouldn't be Christmas without any pre-sentiments, which explains why at this time of year I re- fuse to answer my telephone. The call might be from one of my enemies; or, worse yet, from one of my friends. Ac- cordingly, I spent yesterday af- ternoon resting quietly in my office. Meanwhile, Luscious Lindy was picking up the re- ceiver and getting rid of the callers in short order: "No, he isn't. The old buz- zard spent the weekend in Ot- tawa, and he's all fagged out. He's in hospital with grumps, German missiles, bucolic plague, bleeding Ulsters, deli- rious trainmen, tennis-match neck, an ill-tempered clavicle, delusions of Gandhi, and Kier- kegaard's Syndrome, also known as the fear and trem- bling unto death. His demise being imminent, he has made ou1. a will bequeathing his tags to the Ontario Art Gallery, his liver to the Royal Ontario Mu- seum, and the rest to Disney- land. No, I'm sorry, he's not in; he dropped over to Yonge Street to see the navel ma- noeuvres. He's flown off to Lower East Upper, N.S., to help his grand-daughter cele- brate her golden wedding an- niversary. He contracted an al- lergy in a country churchyard. He has joined the North York school trustees on their annual trip tn the moon.1' Listening to Lindy rattle it Santa unmasked By Judi Walker A LOT of people have unwittingly con- To all of them I extend my tribnted material for these fillers dur- 'hanks for hc'P'nB thc Don t ask me what the cause is. What- ever it is I must say thai il lakes Elspcth ing Ihe past of the family, staff associates, ncighlwrs, thc folk of Mc- KiUop United Church, golfers and others. to make it Iruly a success. So, a special Merry Christinas to you, Blspcth. HPHINKING back over the good old days when I was a well mannered, dainty, pleasure lo-have-around the- house five-year old, mosl of Ihe things I remember are the ev- eryday happy go lucky kid's stuff (like wearing my moth- er's wedding gswn across a freshly oiled road, or shampoo- ing the finish off her But when I come to Christ- mas, I run into a traumatic interlude in my happy routine. That year, Christmas came along just about as slowly and as fantastically and as inno- cently as it had before. I went through the necessary prepara- tions marking the catalogue, letting it be known thai I did NOT want, underpants, and picking up a few gifls for the family (all of Mom's, choosing find with her financial And then, right on Christmas morning, my sister Joanne, took it upon herself to get cv- erylhing confused. I was just getting Ihe Christ- mas routine down pat lie in bed forever (al least, until or quarter lo wake up Jo, tippey toe, giggling down- stairs, and then, WOWBB, open my gift from Santa Claus. Jo did okay until we got to the opening part. Thefi she found a note from Santa thank- ing us for UK food we'd left and telling her he was all out of Easy Bake Ovens or Betfsy- Wettsys or whatever it was sho'd wanted. She read the note over and over and then she went tearing upstairs. I supposed that Santa'd probably Icfl her oven upstairs because it was too heavy to carry all the way down or something. And then she came miming back down wilh a "sample" of my Dad's writing that matched Santa's. My Dad's! My hair nearly popped out of thc top of my five-year old head. Liter in Hie day, she con- fronted my parents (who some- how managed lo sleep until alKiut eight) with the "evi- dence" in the case against Sanla. They conceded and ad- mitted that indeed it was they who'd been leaving the gifts in our Blockings. I went along and played Dr. Watson for but it was a cruel blow to learn I'd been deceived by my own par- ents. off, I thought to myself, "She's a great girl, a great little sec- retaiy; when she leaves next April, il will take me all of five minutes to replace her." But then a chill went through me: tomorrow would be the Day of Daze; and at any mo- ment my editor, Dietrich Dop- pelganger, would be calling each of us in to gel his pre- sent. Drifting out of my office, 1 found the editorial writers huddled in a group, discussing Doppelganger's donations to them at previous Ghoultides. Euromart spat as he said. "Remember the time D. D. turned out to be an Indian giver? When I unwrapped my parcel, an enormous brave jumped out and started chasing me around the Christmas tree with his tomahawk." Telstar grimaced, "It's been worse, re- member the time he called each of us in separately and gave us a Sidbec scowled, "I have it still a ticket to a debate on Senate re- form between Bryce Mackasey and Alvin Hamilton followed by an evening of man-lalk at Hie Legion Hall in Lindsay." Povwar bitterly remarked, "It's not just the presents shrunken heads, elastic arm- bands, plugs of chewing to- bacco, bicycle pant-clips I've seen them all. What. I hate is Ihe way he wishes you a mor- bid Christmas and a hapless New Year, and then IK puts out his reptilian hand, and then as you shake it, he throws you over his head and you go out the window and down into one of the Mcp and Pail delivery trucks, and you end up the fol- lowing morning noally folded on somebody's doorstep in Pus- linch Township." Their challcr was silenced by a coarse bellow lYoiiT D.D.'s pa- latial office "Season's greet- ings, you swine, come and get you Povwar went in and emerged beaming. "He gave me four new hooks, let's look at Ihe titles Techniques of Wage Control, by Pierre Tnidcau; Successful Postal Ad- ministration, by Eric Kicrnns; How to Make A Million Dol- lars, by William Davis. The fourth is by Edgar Benson; it's entitled Your Money and Mine, Mine, Mine." Kuromarl came out equally pleased, bearing a piece of paiTluwiil. "It's an M.A. de- gree. Uoppclganger says -I. guarantees me a reserved place in the line-up outside lira Scott Mission." Telstar return- ed jubilantly. "A throe-year course in potalo peeling at Slumber College! D. D. told mo (hat after I graduate, I'll he qualified lo retrain as a spot welder, llo's a real believer in education." Sidbec slaggcrcd out with a package almost as big as him- self. "A Chinese back-scralcher my only problem now is lo smuggle her in pasl my wife." Ccrfain relumed with a thick tome entilled Everything You Always Wanted lo Know about Owen Sound, But Were Afraid to Ask, and Domtar with one, The Sensuous Man, by X. He explained, "It tells how to at- tract women. You talk to them about participatory democracy, anc then they fall into your arms and utter little moans and start unzipping." When my turn came, I made the usual noisy entrance. "Christmas is a snow job! Did you hear about (lie carillon- neur who fell oul of the belfry? He's a dead ringer. Give me Liberace or give me Dief! Do you like ravishing women? Well, it sure beats washing ears. Dracula's a pain hi the neck. Can a topless opera sing- er be called a skin diva? What's my present this year? An honorary membership in the Quebec Provincial Police? Kirkland Lake on Five Dollars a Day? A battery-operated toothpick? An autographed pic- ture of Senator Josie Quart? A jar of horseradish made from real Doppelganger shook his head. "How can you be so feckless when thousands of unfortunate women don't know where their ncM square male is coining from? The Pope has just is- sued an statement eondeming war, cannibalism and lane-hopping; parts of it are said to be comprehensible. I'm saddened by the turn of events in Poland; mark my words, Kosciusko will end up as a martyr. As for Ihe Far East, we musl fully support the Western Powers in their fight against the Boxers. Now hero is your Christmas present, R. J.. and the management join with me in hoping you'll soon put it to good use." Puzzled by his mildness, I took the envelope back to my olfice and opened it with shaky hands, to find a legal-looking document inside. "He's won I thought, but (hen I realized that it accorded me a ccrlain distinction. I suppose I'm (he only man in Toronto who owns a burial plot al Moo- somin, Sask. for our own breakfast, and It was put off for a while because the younger kids were just coming down to see what Santa brought. It's impossible to de- scribe the scene in that front room, with five kids digging into stockings and five or six older ones frying to help. Eyes popping and hysterical yelling dominated the whole place. It took an hour to slow things down and gel breakfast over, and then we had to go out and do all the chores waiting in the farmyard. And my foot still hurt'from the thumb-tack epi- sode the night before. Dinner wasn't till late afternoon, so at lunchtime we came in to open the presents. That brought on another riot of noise and kids running in all directions at once. Then some went skating or sleigh riding on new gifts just received, and after shov- ing things into corners and un- der furniture, most of the oth- ers crawled in somewhere and hod a sleep. We went oul early and did all the feeding, and then the relatives and invited friends ar- rived, and dinner was on at last. Of course we all ate far too much, even the younger kids look lime lo eat and then rush back to (heir toys in the front room. I've often wonder- ed how so much extra food could be consumed by people who are used to eating all they can hold every day, but we did anyway. The cows had to be milked again that evening, and when we came back the house strangely quiel, the kids had played out and gone to bed. Then came our turn, and a couple of sels of 500 on the dining room table, some new rolls played again on the front- room player piano., and just plain visiting finished off the day. Only one car was stub- born and had to be towed around the yard, when the company left near midnight. Altogether it was a very suc- cessful Christmas celebration, and carried over several days, including attending a special church service that week. The teacher at one school program made a little speech at the start, pointing out that here was three kings of Christmas spirit. First the kind lhat came in a glass bottle from a govern- ment store, second was the spirit of giving, generally known as Santa Cluas, and third the real birthday cele- bration of our Lord Jesus. We didn't actually see any of the first spirit around, but there might have been some at a large gathering out near the barn. The third spirit was fair- ly well portrayed by three wise men following a star jerkily pulled on a wire across the stage, accompanied by doglike camels and other carriers. The next scene of the Babe In the Manger, had real sheep and some chickens to make it alive. The second spirit came in the side door near the program end, and a flock of yelling kids mobbed him, except a few that went searching in the other di- rection. He was a scarey look- ing sighl alright, with lumpy clothes, crooked whiskers, and long rubber boots. I had an idea from his overdone ho-ho- ho, that he might have met the first spirit of Christmas on the way in from the barn. You may say Christmas isn't like that anymore, that times are changing, and the Christ- mas Spirit has gone commer- cial. I know times change, and though progress is inevitable I'm not sure it is always an improvement. Do you remem- ber 3 good old CHRISTMAS PAST? A MERRY CHRIST- MAS TO EVERYONE. :'s n surprise present, she's expecting a fui coat. The Letlibvidge Herald 504 7th St. S., Lotlibridgc, Alberta LETHBRIDOE HERALD CO. LTD., Proprietors and Publisher! Published 1905 -1954, by Hon. W. A. BUCHANAN Second Class Mall Registration No. 0012 Member of The Canadian Press ana me Canadian Daily Newspnptf Publishers' Association and Iho Audit Bureau of Circulations CLEO W. MOWERS, Editor and Publisher THOMAS H. ADAMS, General Manapor JOE BALl.A WltLIAM HAY Manflfllno, Editor Associate Editor ROY F. MILES DOUGLAS K. WALKER Advertising Ma.mgtr Editorial Pago Editor HERALD SERVES THE SOUTH"