Columns » Bob Lancaster

All they want



No child uncoerced ever said "All I want for Christmas is my two front teefe." Waste a rare and precious Christmas wish by asking for an unessential body part that'll inevitably be arriving soon anyway? Not likely. Kids aren't stupid. Songwriters, though ...

I remember my Uncle Carney's Christmas wish one year was for a mule to help him — about 50/50, I would guess — with the garden plowing. He didn't get it, because Aunt Kate couldn't find one for less than $8, her limit, and she wasn't sympathetic to the request anyway. Unk earned the Santa Claus money as a sawmill boiler operator, but Auntie was the comptroller and unhainted by the Ghosts of Past, Present or Future. He got his mule the following spring but only because an old man who lived up the road from us died and his wife wasn't able to harvest sawbriers in the quantities that their mule required for subsistence. She might near gave the old thing away. In other words, got about what it was worth.

"All I want for Christmas is to win the Iowa caucuses," Michelle Bachmann told Santa Claus last week. Think she really meant to put that "all" in there? If so, it's a modest enough request. Bro. Pat Robertson stormed Iowa one time, only to be obliged to slink back to his role as beg-a-thonery's Big Giant Head. Pretty much the same fate befell last time's Iowa GOP caucus champeen, subsequently reduced to having to sign on with either Rupert Murdoch or Vince McMahon, and choosing the more outlandish of the two.

The congressional GOP letter to Santa Claus this year demanded he lay off distributing Christmas gifts free to poor and hopeful children, as those children are coming to consider such gifts entitlements. Can't have that.

Alvin finally got the hula hoop, leastwise Dave said he did. Ralphie got the Red Ryder, and sure enough might near shot his own eye out first thing.

Napoleon Bonaparte's most devout Christmas wish was that somebody would hurry up and invent Preparation H. Mark Twain wanted some Viagra almost as bad. Just didn't know what to call it.

Prince Charles said one Christmas all he wanted was to be prestidigitated into one of his girlfriend's tampons. In a way, yeah, wish was granted.

I have it from some of the oldest residents of the Pine Knot Nursing Home that there was a time when not a single child's Christmas gift list included a telephone. You believe that?

Lonnie Avey said, "I might've asked for some other stuff along there, but I wadn't really paying attention."

Curly Roberts wanted Christmas every day, long as he could be only on the getting end.

A Lash Larue bullwhip was at the top of the Ol' Moi list one year but enthusiasm for it waned rather quickly as I never got where I could snap the ash off a lit cigarette in somebody's mouth and they were loath for some reason to give me permission for retries.

It was someone from Hades, Miss., as I recall, who wanted the diamond as big as the Ritz.

Woe to the likes of Rep. Harris and Sen. Key for first-degree offenses against the Real Reason for the Season. For shameful ventures that chug along on equal parts piousness and gall. Birthday Boy himself spoke the warning: You've had your reward. Be somebody else's turn up yonder.

It was never conclusively determined which member of a recent State Capitol clan asked Santa for a family-size hogshead of Velveeta.

There was the Christmas I decided to test the odd theorem that it's more blessed to give than to receive. Clutching my 50-cent piece "earned" by having completed some routine chore — churning, perhaps — I surveyed the Christmas wares at Hendon's 5-and-10 Cent Store and finally settled on buying my mother a tablespoon. Not silver; not even stainless; I'd guess tin; Uri Geller could've bent it double with just a sidelong glance. But had it gift-wrapped, and felt self-abnegating and proud. She acted thrilled at the opening, and it might not've been all acting. My first choice had been a roll of quilting cotton but of course that was out of my range.

One of Uncle Earl's requests, socks for his rooster.

All the dick Cheney wants is that war with Iran that Santa has denied him lo these many Christmases. Expect him, if denied again, to tell Santa to go f-word himself. You and the reindeer you rode in with.

One Christmas I asked Rhoney Rubow what he wanted and he said an old Rex Jelly bucket filled to the brim with Dr. Tichenor's Antiseptic. Said if he got it he'd tie it to his living-room light-bulb cord, punch a tiny hole in the bottom, and lie under it the whole 12 Days of Christmas lapping up the drip.

One of the Magi, according to the Gospel of Judas: "Aw, it was just some old second-hand myrrh lying around the castle."

Bennie Mac, our town bootlegger, was always happy when Santa agreed to replenish his fruit-jar stock. He'd take pints but most of his delivery was in quarts.

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