“Merry Christmas, Mommy!” shouted out tiny Tim as his mother was preparing to wash the dishes.
“Same to you, honey, though it’s still Advent,” Mrs. Bailey happily replied.
“I really miss the days of white Christmases, don’t you, George?”
“Oh, Mary,” he reminded her, “That’s because you never have to drive or to shovel.”
“Bad weather, presents, Santa, and egg nog, believe it or not, aren’t the most important things about Christmas,” he continued.
“I hope Timmy enjoys all he has now,” she went on. “Once he stops believing in Santa, it’s all socks and underwear from then on.”
This week’s photo prompt was supplied by Rochelle Wisoff~Fields, who weekly takes charge of our Friday Fictioneers, an attempt at writing a hundred~word story based upon a picture.
Christmas has always been quite enjoyable for me. Not counting the bitter cold weather and dark dreary skies, I’ve always really enjoyed it. When I was a kid, I obviously related to it much differently than I have as an adult but I still really enjoy it all. It brings back such exceptionally nice memories. Having to shop at such a crowded hectic time gets me crazy and I could do without the Christmas carols and sales starting in October but it’s a good time for me. One thing that nauseates me is the incessant insatiable left-wing determination to knock Christianity down. We’re expected to pretend it’s the holiday season when in reality it’s entirely about Christmas and that’s most certainly nothing to apologize for. Nobody expects proponents of Black History Month to apologize for being too black, or condemns the Puerto Rican Day Parade for being overly Puerto Rican. When was the last time you heard of the Jews’ being expected to apologize for their Judaism? This morning I went to get my daily coffee at the Coffee Nut Cafe on Park Avenue and one of the ladies behind the counter made a Christmas tree design on it. I was quite saddened to see that she felt somehow compelled to apologize for not having bothered to ask, first, if I celebrated Christmas. There’s something awfully nightmarishly wrong with a leftist cultural climate, in which someone has to expect to get into trouble for such a nice thing. Not counting all the aggravation that naturally ensues from the inevitable aches and pains connected with Christmas inconveniences and responsibilities, my infatuation with the good and important parts is the same as it ever was.
Usually I drink non-alcoholic drinks. As everyone knows I’ve always throughly enjoyed coffee and tea. All my life I’ve really enjoyed a good alcoholic drink too though. Unfortunately I’ve never been able to drink very much because my constitution has always been so very fragile. I have the same rule for alcohol as for coffee. I quite enjoy the straight plain variety every bit as much as the flavored pretty kinds. In my old Knights of Columbus council in Lindenhurst, where I was a bartender, I was quite fond of Kahlua and Sambuca. Unfortunately I haven’t drunk either in quite a long while. My current signature drinks are martinis at weddings and other large occasions, and bourbon whenever I visit my cousin Mark. Surprisingly there isn’t any single specific reason for either choice. I simply decided quite a few years ago to start drinking martinis at big parties, and last Christmas, at a party at Mark’s house, I got the idea to drink bourbon whenever he and I got together. So far, it’s only happened twice. There’s most certainly no entirely non-negotiable rule though. I can always cheat a little and have something other than bourbon or a martini. One day a few weeks ago my nephew Sam and I were hanging around and he got a glass of vodka. I ended up drinking a glass of Salignac cognac. It’s really good to be flexible.
I absolutely don’t remember any details whatsoever about this picture except that it was taken sometime between the period slightly before Christmas 2013 and somewhat before Easter 2014. I can say that much with absolute certitude for exactly two reasons. One is because that was when I had a beard. For some reason I chose to take a chance on trying to grow as full a beard as possible last autumn. The other reason is because I’m wearing Steve’s sweatshirt from St. Peter’s Prep. It’s a Jesuit high school in New Jersey. He’s on the music faculty and he’s in charge of the band . I only started wearing it around the end of last year when it started getting very cold. There were only two occasions I can remember during that time frame when we took pictures. One was Christmas. The other was for the Polar Bear Club fund raiser on Super Bowl Sunday. Unfortunately I can’t even try to remember what I was wearing either day. The picture was taken in the living room, where I am right now. I can tell that I was standing right in front of the couch I’m now sitting on because I can see the air conditioner and light bulb in the picture directly over my left shoulder. This picture has been getting quite a lot of mileage as a profile picture. It’s quite a lot nicer than very many other pictures of me. Besides that it’s an interesting change of pace since I’m most certainly not known for wearing a beard. Unlike many men I have quite a nasty time with facial hair. If I let my beard go for only a short time it looks atrocious and I have to shave. This time I really exercised quite a lot of patience and tried to leave it alone for a significant length of time. After a while I got bored and annoyed with it.
It most certainly wasn’t an absolute matter of life or death. I’ve been known to get more desperately insatiably interested in many other things throughout my lifetime. A while ago, though, I promised myself that if it turned out to be so much as the least bit possible, I should really like, by the end of this year, to get a nice digital camera in order that I could start taking pictures and making videos. Last Christmas Mary Anne, Steve and the kids got me a really nice Samsung computer with Google chrome. That may not have been quite their single smartest move considering that I’ve always been quite inordinately interested in that kind of thing. Since then I’ve always really wanted to take every possible advantage of it by getting a nice camera. I’ve been looking forward to taking some especially nice pictures and videos. Over the course of the past few weeks I’ve been going to the Radio Shack on Park Avenue every once in a while to see what they have. A while ago my cousin Gary told me on the phone that Canon makes exceptionally good cameras. Yesterday I got one. The price was originally a hundred and forty dollars. The salesman said it was marked down to only a hundred dollars. Unfortunately he said the memory card that was required for it to work wouldn’t be available until tomorrow. Then I shall be all set. Knowing me I can count on being quite deliriously happy once I have everything I need. I can go down to the beach and take lots of nice pictures and videos there now that the weather is so warm. Besides that I also really want to see how it works for traveling, parties and vacations. If ever I should have been entirely unable to get one, I could very easily have gotten over it. Not counting all the extreme annoyance of the short-term disappointment, I could have gotten along quite as well as I always had so far anyway.
Because I was born in September of 1959, the first decade of my lifetime was virtually precisely coeval with the 1960’s. Musically and otherwise the 1960’s have made quite an indelible mark upon my lifetime. My childhood was filled with all sorts of musical influences. I was four and a half years old when the Beatles first appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show”. To this day they’re still undeniably my absolute favorites. That era was known for musical variety shows like “Sing Along With Mitch”, “Ted Mack’s Original Amateur Hour “, and “The Dean Martin Show”, among several others. As a kid I was always smitten with the sounds of songs like Petula Clark’s “Downtown”, Zager and Evans’ “In the Year 2525”, and Mary Hopkin’s “Those Were the Days”. Whenever I’d go to a doctor’s office I’d keep obsessing over songs like Percy Faith’s “Theme From ‘A Summer Place'” and Mason Williams’ “Classical Gas”, among others that were played in waiting rooms. The folk, jazz, country and other musical styles of that era have always been quite a major love of my life. Although I’ve never been even the least bit willing to humor the liberals, I’ve even always thoroughly enjoyed the protest songs of that era. Along with all that I made sure I joined the glee club at my grammar school, St. Gabriel’s in East Elmhurst, as soon as I was old enough. Brother Edmond and Brother James, of the De la Salle Christian Brothers, taught us all the then-current popular songs as well as Christmas and Easter songs and show tunes. Brother James played the guitar quite well and Brother Edmond, with his fine baritone voice, sang an exceptional version of “Edelweiss(Blossom of Snow)” from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “The Sound of Music”. I even took guitar lessons for a while at one of the local public schools, P.S. 127. My parents were always quite happy to humor my sister and me about our tastes in music. They enjoyed country music, Edith Piaf and other standards they grew up with so that widened my horizons even more. Eventually the 1960′ s became the 1970’s. That era started out fairly well with Carole King’s “Tapestry” as well as James Taylor, Led Zeppelin and a few other holdovers from the 1960’s. Eventually, though, disco started to become popular. My teenage years saw the rise of tacky styles in music and dress. There were good singers and bands too, though, like the Doobie Brothers, Elton John, Grand Funk and a few others. In my imagination, though, gone forever were the days when everything musical was perfect. Even most of the then-current music I listened to generally tended to be the latest album by someone like Bob Dylan, the Grateful Dead, Led Zeppelin (a variation of the Yardbirds). I had become such a musical snob and purist. I continuously picked fights with all the kids in school, as well as the public school kids, defending my claim that even in the best of 1970’s music, there was something missing compared to that of the previous decade. Unfortunately I’ve never been terribly comptetent musically. My strengths seem to lie more in writing and story telling. Maybe that’s why I’ve always so thoroughly enjoyed the songs of the 1960’s. It was an era that included songs like Joan Baez’s “So We’ll Go No More A-Roving”, based on a poem by Lord Byron, Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit” and the Beatles’ “I Am the Walrus” , based on Lewis Carroll’s “Alice In Wonderland”, and Yoko Ono’s “Who Has Seen the Wind”, based on a Christina Rossetti poem. The music I grew up with has profoundly influenced both my adult musical tastes and even my entire life in general. Although the singers and musicians of my early days could never possibly get me to agree with their liberal political and social agenda, they’ve most certainly shaped my imagination and given me ideas and interest which I may never have otherwise gotten.