Columns » Bob Lancaster

Long as the limb don't break


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Kicking around out on the lease, hoorawing Rudolph'n'em, old boar hog cut me off and run me up a shagbark snag. Lost my piece in the scramble so nothing for it but to wait him out. And him me. We settled in.

With the TV playing all the time, and talking on the phone pretty much constantly now, and having to keep up via the Social Media with everything that everybody you know thinks or does or would like to do or won't ever do again, and about 10,000 other people besides, it's hard to get any quality time alone, just to ruminate on things, in the open air and fall beauty of the great outdoors, no distractions but the Lord God yammering yonder and reminder grunts from down below.

This looked like a good chance for that, long as my limb didn't break. So I'm ruminating —

If Moonbeam McSwine down there didn't get me, it'd all be up in a little more than three weeks anyway. I'd got psyched for Armageddon earlier this year, and for the Rapture (I wrote Rupture first, a Freudian slip but likely closer to the truth) some time last year, but them was just idle predictions from some knotheaded old ignoramus preacher, whereas the upcoming 12-21-12 End-of-the-World Catastrophe was ciphered out by Maya crunchers back in their almanac prime.

It's said they got their astrological ESP from ETs in UFOs and whilst unable like us to put men on the moon, they done the math pinpointing the exact day when the world was going to end, Dec. 21, 2012. Now I had vowed not to be gulled by doomers again, by live preacher or defunct Meso-American, but with barely three weeks to go, hadn't nobody come forward to dispute the Maya prognost, not even famous scientists like my nephew Dr. Burrhead, a world-class debunker though a Michigan Wolverine.

So with the world playing out on Dec. 21 we didn't have to worry about no nuther assault by the heathens in their continuing War on Christmas. By the time Christmas '12 got here, wouldn't be no here for it to get to. Just as well because the war on it was just imaginary anyway, existing wholly inside the numb skulls of some extry-numskulled numskulls, like St. Elsewhere inside the mind of the autistic child.

One time it was a real war on the real Christmas, the Old Christmas, but that war was lost long ago, though within living memory. The enemy then wasn't Season's Greetings or Happy Holidays; it was something that at the time was called Crass Commercialization. The war commenced annually with a big retailing orgy heralded in triumphantly by a demonic entity called the Advertising Industry. Black Friday became the annual Victory over Christmas holiday. Celebrated by a frenzy of blind snatching of on-sale merchandise and trampling rival claimants in the door-opening stampedes. You and I were the foot-soldiers who slew Old Christmas.

Old Christmas actually lost its magic, its meaning, its purpose, its raison d'etre before that. It started to wilt when the first urchin first got two Christmas gifts under the tree instead of just one. Old Christmas was for young'uns only. The gifts were for children, and all the old folks got out of it was the pleasure of bearing witness once again to the truth that it's more blessed to give than to get.

But Old Christmas had a strict sanction or limitation: only one gift per child. The oneness of it, its singularity, what made it special. Made it Christmas. You'd never have imagined, much less heard tell of, Little Nell getting more than one dolly that laughed and cried, and later on pooped, or Ralphie Parker getting two Red Ryder BB guns. After a long year of weeping and wailing, of whimpering and whining, I got my own air rifle for Christmas when I was 12. But I had to wait till the following Christmas to get some ammo for it, my one Christmas gift at 13 consisting of exactly one BB. They were copper then, and came 50 to a package, which meant, according to my Sixth Grade abacusing, that I'd get the last one in the package as my Christmas gift when I was 62 years old.

Mr. and Mrs. Huckaclaus might've Christmas-gifted little Mikey back then with one hogshead of Velveeta, but not two. And not half-a-dozen, enough to fill a boxcar, as he likely non-negotiably demanded in his Letter to Nick. One Christmas gift was your birthright, but more than one was wretched excess, made you feel greedy, resented by your sibs and pals rather than envied by them as you had presumed.

This Old Christmas ethic was in effect from the beginning, when the three Wise Guys, the wee three kings of Orientar, made their starlit trek, camelback rather than reindeer-drawn, each bearing his one gift, one the gold, one the myrrh, one the smellum from Frank N. Sense, apparently the Vidal Sassoon of his time — precious gifts all, but a limit of one, and surely a disappointment to Away in the Manger, whose druthers would've subbed a toy, maybe a fluttering live-angel mobile that attached to his halo, or a bippy to suck on between pulls at the virginal nips.


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