Thursday, December 17, 2015

A Penwasser Christmas (Part I)

 As threatened promised, this is the time of year when I really can't be bothered to write anything new.  After all, there's presents to buy, carolers to snub, and parties to attend (whether I'm invited to them or not...I'm generally not).  So, with that in mind, may I pawn off a post which I wrote many years ago and insist on reposting?  Don't sweat it, if you haven't read it before, it's new.  It's from 2013, so it's been a little while.  So, you have that going for you. 

It could be worse, so quit yer whining.

    The following is a true story (as far as you know) of a Penwasser Christmas in the late sixties/early seventies. Sometime around then.  Hey, give me a break.  It was a long time ago.
And I'm really not that young anymore.

    Christmas was always a big deal at my house.

    Starting immediately after Thanksgiving, we began the run up to the most wonderful time of the year, not counting Flag Day.

    And started to feel sorry for the Jewish kids.  Still, it wasn’t like they didn’t have two weeks off from school.  Besides, they had eight days of Hanukkah, while Christmas was only one.  So, cry me a river, Chosen People. 
On the other hand, while we had Santa,
they had 'Schlomo the Schvitzing Dreidel.'
So, I guess it was kind of a wash.

    As much fun as getting ready for Christmas was, December 25th was actually what we were all waiting for.

Old broad sold separately
    As the clock struck nine on Christmas Eve, our parents scooted us off to bed.  Warned to stay there all night, we were cautioned not to surprise Santa as he placed gifts under our aluminum Christmas tree with its uber-classy color wheel(“Now with primary colors! Plus green!”).

    OK, we bought into the whole Santa thing. Then again, we believed in the Easter Bunny, the tooth fairy, and that a nun could fly.

    We tossed and turned all evening.  To pass the time, we mortified our sister by making fart noises under our armpits.

It's beginning to sound a lot like...
    As midnight approached, we heard the sound of movement downstairs. Instantly calling a halt to the armpit symphony, we strained to hear what was happening.

    “Santa’s here!” my brother, Gary, gasped.

    Straining my ears, I heard the muffled sound of rustling paper.  Even so, I wasn’t exactly sure what was going on.  It was only when I heard a sharp bang followed by a string of colorful holiday expressions of goodwill that I knew the magic of Christmas had arrived.

    Reassured, I happily closed my eyes.

    What seemed like seconds later, I was rudely awakened.  “C’mon,” Gary excitedly cried, “Santa Claus came last night!”

    He seemed genuinely surprised.  Where had
"Hey, I could come down your chimney.
How do you know I haven't?"
 he been all these weeks?  Of course Santa Claus came last night!  Who’d he expect, Nixon?

    We bounded downstairs to a dazzling rainbow of presents beneath our garish tin pole. Quickly diving into the pile, we were brought up short by a shrill, “Nobody opens anything until your father and I get there!”

    Thus admonished, we nervously perched on the edge of our avocado and gold couch.  It seemed an eternity until our parents trudged like zombies into the living room.

    Coming out of her narcoleptic daze, Mom gushed, “Wow!  What happened?  Did Santa come?” (Amazingly, she sounded as shocked as my brother. What was it with these people?  Did they all have brain damage?).

    Oblivious to her amazement, my father silently nodded.

    Instantly responding, we dove under the tree in a giddy paroxysm of joy.  We were a brood possessed, we were seized with the spirit, we were seagulls descending on a box of French Fries.  

Santa couldn't do better than a ukulele?
Who the hell does he think I am,
Don Frikkin' Ho??"
    After we had torn open our presents, our parents announced that it was time for church.  After all, what says Christmas more than sitting uncomfortably on wooden pews and splashing each other in the face with water from petri dishes disguised as holy water fonts?

    Despite the fact that Snooki makes more appearances at Mensa meetings than the Penwassers at Mass (Remember: this was written in 2013), we were “going, goddammit!”  So, after exchanging footie pajamas for swanky “Dad N Lad” ensembles and hideous frocks of a color not found in nature, off we sped in the family Batmobile to Saint Stanislaus.  

    Upon arrival-five minutes late-my father ushered us into the very last pew.  “That way,” he whispered, “we can beat the friggin' traffic.” 

    What a man of God, our dad.

    The service was tolerable.  There were a 
"Okay, gold I get.
But, what the hell is frankincense
and myrrh?
And is anyone else creeped
out by that midget camel?"
bunch of mumbled carols, a Christmas sermon about how Baby Jesus didn’t get coal, and the obligatory offering for starving Vietnamese orphans. “The ones who aren’t Commies,” Father Karl sternly added.  That was about it.  Oh, and Phil needed the Heimlich maneuver to get that communion wafer out of his throat. 

    Before you could say “Dominus Nabisco,” we were knocking down old Slovak ladies to get out the door. 

To be continued...


  1. Do people actually still go caroling anymore? Can't say I've ever seen them.

    1. Very rarely. Oh, how I HATED being forced to listen.

  2. Leaving all your toys to go to church - that was grounds for a parental abuse case. Did you ever file one?

    1. I had shag carpet on my toilet. You'd think that would be enough.

  3. This is an excellent Christmas memory story, and it gave me a chance to think about how hot Marcia Brady was as well. Thank you for both.

    1. Even when that football bopped her in the bazoo.
      Hubba, hubba.

  4. lol it is rather funny when you look at it how everyone says santa was here or did santa come, etc. Like they weren't expecting him.

    1. And that whole business about Santa coming down the chimney.
      Which I would think would be kinda messy.

  5. so that was you beating us out the door of the church?
    (we had the aluminum Christmas tree too. Oh the merry color wheel)

  6. Saw something posted the other day. "A virgin birth I can believe, but three wise men?"

    1. I prefer to call them the Three Wise Guys.

  7. Very amusing, especially the line, "Dominus Nabisco." Ha!

    1. We always used to have fun with that line. As much fun as "Adestes Fideles." I'm convinced they used Latin so prepubescent boys didn't giggle at "Oh COME All Ye Faithful." Not that we really knew what it meant.

  8. Now this was a fun read! I love that silver tree that I, think, my Aunt had as well but all decorated in red balls found at the People's store. Love the old TV-brings back memories of shag carpeting where things could go and die in. We would go to Midnight Mass and then i would watch my Dad doe the whiplash maneuver as he tried to stay awake listening to the priest drone on

    1. We had red balls, if I remember correctly. I don't think my father wanted blue balls.

  9. This was FUNNY, Al--& new to me!!

    1. Thanks!
      It helps to have a psychotic childhood.

  10. Except for the location, we were in the same households! Gotta love our Dad's going to church and then coming out and cutting people off in the parking lot just to get out first!!! LOL Am I right?

    1. EXCEPT, during the rest of the year, when the SOB made us go to Mass by ourselves. Eventually, we grew wise to his action. We went to church, grabbed a bulletin, splashed holy water in each other's faces, walked out the side door, and used the collection plate money to buy doughnuts at Bard's Variety across the street.

  11. Order of creepyness above:
    3) midget camel
    2) Schlomo the Schvitzing Dreidel
    1) ukele gift

    1. True story:
      Found a full-size guitar in my great-grandmother's garage.
      The hag said I was too young to play with it and took it away.
      My parents bought me that pitiful little guitar for Christmas.
      Yes, I have issues.
      And a good memory.