Christmas, 1975

To continue on our theme of Christmas spirit and cheer - here  is yet another delightful story culled from around that time I write of in  my memoir - "The Edge of Whiteness".
A late Saturday afternoon in the middle of December, 1976 in the cheery, yet insidiously dysfunctional  town of Roselle, New Jersey. Dusk falls suddenly, or at least it seems that way, you know? It always does around this time of the year - one minute it's still bright out, even if it is a grey December day - the next minute it's like, '"hey, who turned out the fuckin' lights?!"
 Jeez. That's why I HATE Daylight Savings time... worst invention EVER. Yeah, let's make it even more depressing than it already is - let's have it get dark around 4 o'clock. Yeah, that's cheery. The only saving grace to this whole thing is that we are right in the middle of the Christmas season - so there is a certain amount of cheer. Definitely. I mean, it's omnipresent. As darkness blankets the wintry sky, thousands of Christmas lights flash brilliantly, a hundred different patterns adorning the front windows of the houses lining the streets of West Third Avenue. Vibrant wreaths hang on the front doors, pine cones and enchanting red ribbons adding to the holiday atmosphere.
The more ambitious among us have spent  their entire vacations toiling away to hammer into their frozen front lawns those wooden cut outs of Santa and his sled being pulled into the air by the eight reindeer -  and on top of that have draped wires and cords of  Christmas bulbs around the structure. After that they probably suffered heart attacks - I mean Jeez, all that work for like two weeks? That's insane. Finally, the more religious among us have erected the "Nativity Scene", ya know, the one where the 3 Wise Men are bringing  gifts of Frankincense, gold and muir (what he hell is muir anyway?) to the stable, waiting for the baby Jesus to be born. I make a mental note to myself to tell Skinny that we shouldn't steal the Baby Jesus this year when they lay him in the bed of hay on Christmas. I mean it's kind of holy, y'know?
Anyway, I'm not so much into all this stuff, but even I am  feeling it now.
In our annual tradition, my mother trudges off to  Rekemeir's Flowers alone (well, my sisters trail after her complaining about the wind and their mittens) because my father refuses to help buy the tree. So she has to do it. And the thing is, the tree is bigger than her and she's dragging it down the street, block after block, against the fierce and bitter wind, till she gets it to our house. There, a festive atmosphere reigns - Andy Williams and Perry Como crooning Christmas carols over the stereo. My mother has baked Scotcharoos, which is kind of this peanut butter,Rice Krispies and chocolate  concoction, that we really all love and bloody each other up over just to get a piece of. She has even made eggnog - or  maybe my father made it, I don't know. So, there's genuine Christmas good will and peace in the house... until the decorating starts. That's when the real trouble begins.
"Ewwwww - that's ugly!!"
"Why did you put that Christmas bulb there?! it looks retarded!"
"You're retarded!"
My sisters take turns sniping back and forth at each other and my mother alternatively.
My father just sits there on the couch drinking Ballantine Ale and eggnog, while my mother implores him to get involved - to no avail, of course.
There go the Christmas bulbs
My mother starts cursing. My sisters fight among themselves,The inevitable whining and then crying follows. Somehow, through all this, my mother manages to finish the decorating job, hangs the tinsel and the lights and plugs it in - THERE!
Everybody  beams, proud of "their " work.
"Joe - what do you think?" My mother asks my father, who so far has paid little attention to the whole process.
"It's crooked..."
"The tree is crooked." he replies.
My mother, now in a rage, picks up the Christmas tree from the water base it' resides in  - and THROWS it at him.
Merry Christmas!

Joe Montaperto

Writer, murderer, bon vivant par excellance - I pay the rent as a catering bartender, and sometimes shoot poison darts at white people from trees in Hoboken, while shouting UUUMMMBBAAAAGGGGAAAA!!