Mom’s Skool

Well, it’s another Mother’s Day. Uncle Bardie wants to send out his Happy to all you mothers. You done good.

Being the guy I am, I want to reveal a secret to all you mothers out there. I am just telling you, not your children. So let’s keep this on the q.t.

Since way back to Eve raising Cain, there is a motherly ritual every first time mother goes through. I know. You don’t remember it. Within twenty-four hours of the birth of your first born, the hospital staff hypnotize you and take you down to the hospital basement.

Now, I can hear many of you objecting. There wasn’t a hospital in Eve’s time. I just have one question for you. Were you there? Of course, you were not. So how would you know?

Anyway they push you down to the hospital basement. They put a set of headphones on you. Then you are instructed that you were brung here to equip you for what’s ahead when Junior goes amuck or daughter sticks out her tongue at you and yells and screams.

You will need some armor. Since words are the strongest armor, you are given words that will curl any kid’s hair when coming from Mom: They’ve worked since the beginning of time and they will work till the Big Bang takes us out.

Memorize these. You will need them.

1. When the kid misbehaves, just say, “Wait till your father comes home.”

2. When the kid won’t eat his veggies, it’s okay to say, “Think of all those kids starving in Ethiopia.”

3. If the kid comes back with they’ll send their share of the food to Ethiopia, don’t whack him. Just give him one of those drop dead looks and say, “Eat your vegetables. You’re going to need them where I am sending you.”

4. When your teenage daughter is smart mouthing, just comment, “Wait till you have a daughter of your own.”

5. It may not change her behavior, but later she will realize the curse that has been placed on her head. When she comes to you to beg it be removed, you will smile and say, “That’s nice, hon.”

6. Just when the kid comes out with a “I didn’t do anything”, answer, “This is for all the stuff I missed.”

7. To keep them on their toes, say, “Always wear clean underwear in case you get in an accident. You wouldn’t want to embarrass your mother with the funeral director, now would you?”

8. “You’re the oldest. You should know better.” Just because they should.

9. Another useful saying: “You won’t be happy until you break that, will you?”

10. If all else fails, say in a very quiet voice, “I brought you into this world. I can take you out.”

These are the most useful sayings. But there are more. Lots more.

They gave you a manual you had to learn in the next six or seven hours. Then they take you back upstairs. You wake up and wonder what happened.

Mom’s Skool, that’s what.

Happy Mom’s Day. You deserve it.

Fruit Salad

You have blueberry eyes
And a raspberry smile
Yes, I am a banana
All dressed in salady style

We may not know apples
From oranges or tangerines
But it doesn’t matter
We’re peaches and whipped cream

Since those days of wonder
And nights of kiwi delight
When we were all marshmallowy
You were the morning, I the knight

Our love is a fruit salad
A mix and match thing
A feast beyond compare
A French gourmet’s drean.

Three Cats’ Christmas

Merry Christmas, y’all

Three cats under the Christmas tree
Buster, Sister, Mama Peaches
All purring their yuletide carols
On this the night before Christmas.
They’ve kneaded their joy, now they rest
Curled up next to tinsel and snow,
Dreaming their dreams of Santa Paws
Meowing his jolly ho-ho-ho,
Hoping for some kitty-katnip
And a ball of yarn for their play.
Maybe a mouse or even two.
They dream and sleep this night away
But soon will come the Christmas morn
And all will be right with these three
For they will wake with a good stretch
And a big yawn under that tree.
After a game of give-and-take
They’ll hurry for their bowls of food
And munch and crunch, and lick their paws
Clean They’ll be in the best of moods.
Then they’re off for the Big Outside.
But before they rush out they take
One last turn ‘round the Christmas tree
Just so the three can celebrate
How long long ago a Babe
In a manger lay in the cold
Without a blanket or cover,
And no more than a few hours old,
When one scrawny and feral cat
Crawled in and curled about the Child
And kept the Baby warm that night.
So he could sleep with a sweet smile.
The morning came, the sun did rise
Up east and warmed the Child below
While the cat slinked away, no more
To be seen but all the kitties know
How that Cat gave all that he had.
‘Twas enough to keep away the freeze.
So now in heaven there’s a Cat
That never has to scratch for fleas.
As our three cats go out to roam
This Christmas day they take delight.
It was one of them, some Unknown
Gave Jesus company that night.

My Santa Claus Kit

So now it’s Christmas Eve I must admit
It’s time to pull out my old Santa Claus Kit
Done it a thousand times, still it’s a hit
It must be done for it’s in the holy writ
First the bourbon to get delightfully lit
Then I stumble on down to the basement
And search under all the whatchamacallits
Till I am completely at the end of my wits.
After lots and lots of starts and fits
I am not about to call it quits
Till up it pops from where it sits
My one and only Santa Claus Kit.
My red suit is in it, so are my white mits
To keep my hands warm for the night’s trip
My boots black as coal and other condiments
Even some meds for my one true zit.
The night is ready, a sleigh to equip
Up on the roof I make for it
In my sweater Mrs. Claus did knit
It’s so snug it’s a just right fit
On the third floor I stop to try and get
The eight reindeer from where they sit
They care about Christmas not one whit
They want a raise or they say that’s about it.
Even Rudolph, he’s such a snit
He has a red nose, he thinks he’s really It
I go to pull them after me till I get bit
“Ouch,” I cry, then, “I’m ’bout out of my wits.”
“We’ll not go with you,” the reindeer spit
I’m ‘bout to sober up, I need another hit
Of the bourbon so I can get some grit.
I take a swig and it does the trick
I throw my rope ‘round the reindeer neck
Before they know what happened lickety split
They’re ready to have a go at it
Up on the roof. To the sleigh they’re hitched
Then it’s over to the elf’s closet
Where I grab my bag and I toss it
Into the sleigh it makes something of a dent
Then I jump into the seat and sit
I raise the reins and ready for the ascent
One last shot of bourbon and I am bent
For the heavens and the stars that are lit
To guide my ‘round the world event
The seat is hard in the place I have to sit
Tomorrow my behind will have one big dent
For there’s no cushion in my Santa Claus Kit
Next year I’ll ask Santa, a pillow I shall get.

A Bob Cratchit Christmas

loosely based on Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”

Ebenezer Scrooge was dead, had been dead for two years now. Everything he owned, his business, his savings, his house, even his cherished collection of exotic door knockers, everything with the name of Scrooge upon it he had willed to Bob Cratchit.

Before he had died, and after the incident with the ghosts, Scrooge had grown kinder and kinder. His business had prospered even more than it did before that particularly frightening episode with the three ghosts. In the old gentleman’s waning years, he developed a special affection for his trustworthy clerk. Bob Cratchit became the son he had always wanted.

It was the day before Christmas Eve. The staff at Marley, Scrooge, & Cratchit came in to work for a bit of good cheer, and their Christmas bonuses. Bob Cratchit was a generous man, so they were very pleased with the envelopes he delivered into their hands. With a “Merry Christmas and God bless us each and every one” from their employer, they were all out of the office by noon.

“Lock up as you go out,” a prematurely gray Cratchit called from his back office to his young assistant, Irving.

“Yes, sir.”

Bob Cratchit heard the door close, and he was alone with his glass of cider. It would be a lonely Christmas this year. All the members of his family were off on holiday expeditions, and he was left alone without anyone to share the Nativity with There had been a time when the family cherished each other for themselves, when he had been Tiny Tim’s only horse, when they were poor, and happy.

It seemed as if only Bob Cratchit had escaped their good fortune unscathed. His

wife Mary was always off on one of her little trips these days. This Christmas she was up visiting their oldest daughter in Edinburgh. Martha had married a count, or was it a baron? Bob couldn’t quite get it straight which. They had a new baby for Mrs. Cratchit to spoil. How he missed Mary’s cooking. She had to be the best Christmas-goose-cook in the whole of England.

His son, Peter, was abroad this year with several of his playboy friends. Belinda, his youngest daughter, was on tour in Wales, acting in the latest Shakespeare production of the Globe Players.

But the most disappointing of all was Tiny Tim. The operation Scrooge had paid for healed him of his affliction and Timothy Cratchit was no longer Tiny. He was now an Esquire, a very successful solicitor, and a Right Honourable Member of Parliament. He would be with the Tory Party leaders this Christmas on a retreat or some such thing which his father had nary an idea about.

Though proud of his family, they were never around anymore and he no longer found delight in the blessings bestowed upon them. Only the business brought him any satisfaction these days. And he wasn’t very good at that.

Things had begun to go downhill shortly after Scrooge’s death. In the two years since the funeral, he had managed to loose most of his benefactor’s capital. Upon reflection, Cratchit really couldn’t understand why but he knew he had to get to the bottom of things, and soon. Or Marley, Scrooge, & Cratchit would close its doors forever. Though he had done everything the way Scrooge had taught, the books were all in the red. Soon it would be Debtors’ Prison for Robert Elroy Perciville Cratchit.

He finished off his cider and thought how much he missed those long winter nights with Mr. Scrooge, or Ebenezer as he insisted Bob call him. As they drank their mugs of smoking bishop, that Christmas punch Londoners especially cherished, they warmed themselves by the old man’s fireplace. Ebenezer passed along his tidbits of business acumen, secrets of a master business magician to his apprentice. But, without Scrooge to cast his spell, the business was beginning to fall apart. The younger man had perhaps a year left, then bankruptcy.

It was getting late, almost night, when Bob Cratchit finally bundled himself up, his shoulders stooped with the weight of money and its worries. Money was not the root of evil but the worry of it must surely be.

He walked out into the London fog and locked his office door behind him. The bell of the church nearby tolled six. The street lamps were already lit. Soon the city would be dark, except for what little light the lamps gave off.

“Would you care for a carriage, sir,” a coachman offered from his horse-drawn taxi.

“No, thank you. I believe I’ll walk.”

Though the night air was nippy, it was not chilly enough for him to deny himself a brisk evening walk. He loved this time of year when the city streets and the lights from the houses along the way reminded him of earlier Cratchit family yuletides when they were poor. The simple joys of a Christmas pudding, a Yule log, and the unwrapping of their meager gifts. But that was then. Now the Cratchits were a wealthy merchant family, and as stylish as could be. All of London envied them for their good fortune.

“Then Merry Christmas, sir,” the coachman said.

“A very Merry Christmas to you as well.”

As he strolled along, he passed a court yard. Workmen were just finishing their repairs on the gas pipes. Several ragged men and boys stood around the brazier nearby and warmed their hands. Bob Cratchit walked past them and past the ancient gothic church. He dropped a coin into each of the beggars’ hands as he came upon them and wished each a Merry Christmas. He walked past a number of houses, the smell of roast turkey and goose and hen and Christmas pudding from them filling his nostrils with the happiest of smells. Strolling along the streets were bands of carolers, singing their “God rest ye merry gentlemen.”

Bob Cratchit made his usual stop for his supper in one of several of the taverns along the way home. He read his newspaper, then had his usual conversation with the tenants of the tavern. After an hour or so of this, he was out the door and back into the fog and the frost. Soon he found himself standing at the front of the house Scrooge had willed him.

He walked through the old black gateway to the house. He placed his key in the door and turned it. As he went inside, he felt a chill passed through him, a bit chillier than the night air that he was escaping. He shook himself free from the feeling and closed the door and stepped into the dark room that had become his home. He went to light a fire in the large fireplace but decided against it. Instead he lit a candle.

Standing there in the dark with only the candle for light, he looked up at the large portrait of a smiling Ebenezer Scrooge hanging from the wall. But tonight the old man was frowning back at him. Bob Cratchit closed his eyes, then opened them again. His benefactor was not frowning. He was smiling as he always was.

“Now I’m seeing things. Perhaps this is what Ebenezer meant by humbug.”

As he retired deeper into the cavity of the house, he found himself inside his bedroom. It would be another long, lonely night in this gloomy bedchamber Scrooge had once occupied.

He closed the heavy door behind him and quickly dressed into his long night shirt and crawled in beside his bed warmer. He blew out the candle that he had sat on the bedside table. Soon he dozed off.

Startled awake by some eerie sound, he sat up.

A squeak, perhaps from a mouse that had chosen his room for its home. But it didn’t sound like a mouse.

An icy breeze filled the room. The window was open, he guessed. He looked over at it. The window was closed. He shivered.

Slowly a translucent gray mist moved through the door.

Bob Cratchit grabbed his quilt and pulled it over his head as he lay back in the bed. Then he worked up his courage and he pushed the quilt down. After all, he was a modern nineteenth-century man. Humanity had banished all its needs for fear. Scientific progress was its destiny.

So what was there to be afraid of?

Absolutely nothing.

He lit his candle to abolish his fear. Then he looked over at the book on his bedside table. The title on the cover read The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. In the distance, the church bell struck midnight.

Bob Cratchit looked up at the door. His face turned pale.

Wh-wh-wh-what.

Before him stood a large specter.

“Bob Cratchit, Ebenezer Scrooge sent me,” the unearthly visitor whispered. “I am the Ghost of Business Past.”