williamallenpepper

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Archive for the tag “Rudolph”

TWAS THE NIGHT AFTER CHRISTMAS

Steamed milk. Sugar. Chocolate – dark chocolate this time. A dash of cinnamon and, was that nutmeg? Whatever it was, the beverage was just the thing to warm tired bones after a long, frigid night.

Kringle took a long pull from the steaming mug of cocoa and eased back into the easy chair. He shivered a little, pulled the red and green plaid blanket a little tighter over his legs.  A man his age shouldn’t go out on nights like this; especially when nights out for him lasted, well, an impossibly long time. They had to. How else to get all those toys delivered in one evening?

Kringle set the mug on top of an old book, Grimm’s Fairy Tales, on the table next to him. A bit of whipped cream slid down the side of the mug, which was a stout, blue ceramic item with flecks of gold and his initials filigreed on it, or at least the initials of the name he was most commonly called by – “SC”. Head elf Flifle had given it to him a century before and he’d enjoyed a cup of cocoa in it every Christmas night since.

Santa sat. Just sat. He hadn’t done that the entire pan-dimensionally long night. All over the world. Down the chimney. Up the chimney. Springing to the sleigh, springing out of the sleigh. Icy roofs, barking dogs, the odd sneaky kid trying to grab a peek. Occasionally getting singed by a fire that didn’t properly extinguish itself.

It was a young man’s game.

And Kringle was not a young man.

Every year, he thought about retiring. His predecessors had done the job until they dropped – faded into the other world or whatever. But he was tired. More so all the time. It was getting hard to press on. Even harder now.

Stop it, Kris. It’s Christmas! The most joyous time of year. He was the poster boy for holiday cheer – jolly ol’ St. Nick, Ho ho ho, and all that. But once in a while, when the presents were delivered, the workshop was shuttered until January 1 when production ramps up again, and the elves had gone home…well, these quiet holiday moments can be killers, can’t they? Worries that this year just wasn’t as merry as the last; regret over harsh words to the elves, frustration that little Sophie wasn’t going to get the exact doll she’d wanted. Concerns about the ratio of naughty to nice on his list.

In the past, he could count on Mrs. Claus to pull him out of a holiday funk with a joke or an encouraging word. One year, he’d quit being Santa all together and went to live in the Real World. Mrs. Claus, with the help of good ol’ Flifle and a couple of kind real worlders had pulled off a bit of Christmas magic worthy of, well, himself, he supposed. He chuckled awkwardly at the notion of his own legendary status. A status he never would have achieved without his beloved Mrs. Claus.

But things change. The seasons pass and so do those we hold dear.

Santa watches the children – sees them sleeping, knows when they’re awake, knows who is bad or good.

But what about himself, Mr. Kringle. Who will watch over Santa now?

Kringle shivered again. But it wasn’t from the cold this time. Santa drained the mug, but the warmth of the chocolate failed to penetrate the chill that stayed with him even when he delivered presents to the tropics. It was the chill of loss and mortality, not of climate.

There was a faint rapping at the chamber door. As it opened on ancient hinges, The light from the hallway spilled into the darkened room, Flifle’s jingle bells echoed in the silent night.

“Sir,” Flifle said. “I have the children’s letters If you’d like to read them now.”

“The what?”

“Oh,” Flifle said. “I thought you knew.”

“Knew what?”

“Mrs. Claus set it up before…well, before. She thought tonight of all nights you’d be wanting to read some of the millions of letters from the children who love you.” Seeing the somber look on his boss’s face, Flifle prepared his retreat. “I can take them back to the workshop if you like.”

Kringle looked at his old friend and helper. The warmth he’d been seeking finally pushed out the cold. “No, that’s all right, ” he said slowly, the twinkle in his eye not quite there, but definitely emerging. “I’ll take them.”

Flilfe left St. Nick alone with his letters. But he wasn’t really alone. No one who carries the spirit of Christmas in its many forms can ever really be.

Happy holidays!

Psst…want to read more about St. Nick, Mrs. Claus and Flifle? Let Rudolph’s nose lead you here. (Or whatever book purveyor you choose)…

http://smile.amazon.com/St-Nick-Time-William-Pepper-ebook/dp/B0092902GW/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1418447515&sr=8-2&keywords=In+the+St.+Nick+of+Time

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GOODNIGHT, 2014!

(With apologies to Margaret Wise Brown)

In the year gone by,

There was a Manson marriage

And a polar vortex

And a picture of –

Olympic athletes jumping over the moon

And there was a bid for Scottish independence

And no extra Olive Garden breadsticks

But we got a free U2 album

(Much to our dismay. Weirdly.)

 And too many shootings

And too many hostages

 And legal pot and ebola and Kim K’s oiled-up tush

And huge CVS pharmacy told smokers to “hush”

 Goodnight Seth Rogan’s “The Interview”

Goodnight Robin Williams

 Good night Arthur “Rudolph/Frosty/Santa Claus” Rankin and Larry “Yukon Cornelius” Mann

 Goodnight Tom “Car Talk” Magliozzi

And Russell “The Professor” Johnson

Goodnight Pete Seeger

Goodnight Ukraine

 Goodnight Norman “Clifford” Bridwell

And goodnight Japanese whale hunting

 Goodnight Heartbleed Internet bug

And goodnight Gabriel Garcia Marquez

 Goodnight Harold Ramis

 And goodnight Rubin “Hurricane” Carter 

Goodnight Ladies’ Home Journal

 And goodnight NFL player scandals

Goodnight nobody

 Goodnight depressing news mush

 And goodnight to the US

Telling Cuba to “hush”

 Goodnight stars

 Goodnight air

 Goodnight noises everywhere

 *Phew* 2015 better not be so…challenging, lest we develop a global drinking problem.

 

WASSAIL, YOU!

Wassail, you wassailer you!

It’s Christmas Eve! If you’re an observer of the holiday and actually reading this on the 24th of December, you’re either killing time until you can leave work, killing time until the relatives show up, or are already ready to kill your goddamn relatives and are desperate for a distraction. Whatever the reason you’re here, MERRY CHRISTMAS!

(You know it’s a special holiday because I’ve already blown a year’s worth of exclamation points in the first paragraph of this post.)

For those of you who don’t observe the day, and, more to the point, have somehow managed to avoid the waves of commercialism Lucy and Linus warned us about (“Christmas is not only getting too commercial, it’s getting too dangerous.”), let me paint the scene playing out around the world. If you’re reading this after Christmas, just consider this your eggnog flashback.

All over the world, good little boys and girls are clutching their Red Ryder carbine action range model air rifles in cobalt blue with the compass in the stock. Frosty the Snowman is in a puddle in the corner. Or maybe Hermie the elf just peed himself (should have been a urologist instead of a dentist) when the Bumble showed up. Rudolph’s red nose is lighting the way for Yukon Cornelius to get to rehab to get cured off the Wild Turkey.

Cousin Eddie kidnapped your boss in the RV, but Scrooge evicted him from in front of the Griswold’s house. If Clark is electrocuted hanging 200,000 imported Italian twinkle lights (“the little lights, they’re not twinkling”) well, Scrooge will be happy with the decrease in the surplus population.

Tim Allen pushed Santa off your roof and hijacked the sleigh. Expect to find a selection of Binford brand power tools and Disney apparel under your tree Christmas morning.

The Muppets played out “A Christmas Novel” with Tiny Tim being portrayed by a frog. Just as Dickens intended.

A cadre of mall Santas occupied the Orange Julius, bringing the holiday shopping season to a halt.

Charlie Brown was sued by various environmental groups for killing that defenseless tree.

Grandma got run over by a reindeer; a lesser known facet of Obama’s death panels.

Traffic on the country’s major bridges had to be diverted from all the flooding that occurred as thousands of fruitcakes threw themselves into oceans and rivers because the “just couldn’t take the insults anymore”.

Countless friendships were ruined when one of the friends took “let’s not exchange gifts this year” seriously.

I had to take out a loan to bring to fruition my plan to play “52 card pickup” with store gift cards at every store in the mall, but it was totally worth it.

My dream of a new holiday novelty song we can all rally behind until it’s run into the ground like the Bob and Doug McKenzie brother’s 12 days of Christmas or “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” goes unfulfilled. Yet again.

All snark aside, here’s hoping you have a happy, joyous, relatively debt and/or felony-free holiday season. Hope 2014 ain’t all bad either.

MERRY CHRISTMAS

Question: “What does Santa do in the garden?”

Answer: “Ho ho ho!”

Merry Christmas everybody. May your heart be light, though that seems unlikely with the massive quantities of egg nog, fatty meats and baked goods you’re consuming. Ah, screw it. The world ended on December 21 anyway and is now just a burnt-out shell of former human habitation (you’re probably reading this post using a stick to shift embers of your computer, bathed in the glow from your flaming dining room set.). So live it up! At least for once you had a holiday gathering with your relatives where you had something to talk about other than Uncle Ben’s drinking problem and how pissed your sister Suzie is that you never take her side.

Since ’tis the season to offer up reruns, I came across this piece that I wrote at Christmastime like eight years ago (well, not like eight. It actually was eight. Shut up.) for one of my old, defunct websites. I came across it the other night and it kind of amused me. So here it is. Hope it does the same for you. Happy holidays.

SANTA’S PRESS CONFERENCE

(Originally published December 11, 2005)

He moodily rippled the somber stillness of the darkened room by slowly moving an arm to flip on the TV.  WXMS correspondent Ann Elf was seated behind a desk rimmed in candy cane red and white, apparently not aware she was now live.  She could be heard shifting her jingle-belled feet nervously.

Suddenly aware, Ann Elf bobbed her red and green-hatted head slightly and said, “Good afternoon.  We interrupt this afternoon’s marathon of crappy holiday specials that don’t have Charlie Brown, Frosty, or Rudolph to bring you live coverage of Santa Claus’s press conference.  The reason for Mr. Kringle’s decision to meet the press has not been revealed, but perhaps we will get some answers shortly.”  Out of words, Ann Elf smiled nervously.

She paused, an expression of intense listening on her face.  The viewer watching all this on TV shifted and burped.

Ann Elf continued.  “I’m being told Pere’ Noel is now approaching the podium at the gateway to the Christmas Tree Forest at Santa’s Castle.  Let’s go there now live.”

The TV studio was replaced on the moody viewer’s screen by the splendid richness of color that characterized the grounds of Santa’s Castle.  The big man approached the microphone, after shifting his wide, patent-leather belt.  “Ho, ho, ho!” he bellowed merrily – as if there were any other way – to the assembled reporters; elves, dwarves, unicorns, and Anderson Cooper.

Santa’s eyes twinkled at the assembled journalists, except Helen Thomas, who was dozing.

“My friends,” Santa said, gesturing widely with green-mittened hands.  “As you’ve doubtless heard by now, Christmas is being cancelled this year.”

The expected rumbling ensued.  The television viewer grimaced and watched.  Among the journalists, all hands shot up, eager to ask the inevitable question.  Santa motioned them down.

“Let me explain,” he said.  “There will be Christmas – on a date yet to be determined following completion of the North Pole merger with Wal-Mart into a new company to be run by one of Donald Trump’s apprentices.”

“So, when will it be?” asked one voice in the back.

“We’re thinking March or April.  Or maybe June,” Santa said, chewing on the question as he spoke.  “Probably on a Monday to take full advantage of a last shopping weekend.”

“Will Rudolph be a part of the new company?” asked a talking squirrel clutching a Blackberry.

Tersely, Santa replied, “Rudolph has opted to take a position with Municipal Power and Light.  We wish him well.”

“Man,” the rumpled man in holey socks said as he watched this spectacle, scratching himself idly. “No Santa?  No Rudolph?  No Christmas on December 25?  I busted my butt to scrape up some goodwill to spread around to my fellow beings despite being unemployed and broke.”  His scowl deepens.  “Plus, I’ll bet now I won’t get that X-Box 360.”

The man hunkers down lower into the cushions of his three-legged couch, sulking.

“So what’s Chanukah all about?”

(Time traveling back to the 2012) So was it any good?  I promise all new stuff next post.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS! (Your pick. I care not  a whit what holiday you choose or which one you greet me with when I buy stuff in your check out lane at the store as long as you leave all the pie for me.)

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