The year Santa lost a Ho

Merry Christmas to one and all.

The missus and I had just finished our afternoon tea when we received a surprise visit. It was Blitzen, the Old Graybeard of Santa’s Reindeer. He was accompanied by Donner and his young apprentice, Randolph. Blitzen and I had run together in our younger days before the missus and I took up with each other. And it had been some time since we caught up.

To allow his great antlers into the house, we opened the french doors. Still they barely made it into our home. We poured our guests three large mugs of our best cider, threw a log onto the fire and settled in for some news.

Seems the rest of the Reindeer were down with reindeer-itis. As they say at the Pole, when it hits, it hits hard.

Blitzen and Donner were using the free time to get the Rookie, Randolph, up to snuff on sled-ology. They didn’t want a reprise of the fiasco two year’s earlier when Comet stopped in the middle of nowhere to take a good gaze at the moon.

Blitzen, in his deep reindeer voice, went to the subject at hand. “Earlier this year Santa lost one of his Ho’s.”

The wife said, “No.”

Blitzen continued, “Now I know what you’re thinking. I’m here to tell you that the Ho he lost is not that kind of Ho. It was one of Santa’s three Ho’s in Ho-Ho-Ho. One went missing in action. The middle one to be exact.”

“You don’t say.” I was deeply concerned. This couldn’t happen to a better man than Santa. He was such a jolly, old fellow, him with his red cheeks and all.

My dear wife said, “Poor dear man.”

Donner up and put in, “Just think what Christmas would be without one of Santa’s Ho-Ho-Ho’s. Why it would be an embarrassment to Santa saying, ‘Ho ho.'”

Blitzen added, “Leaves a person hanging, don’t you think? And we couldn’t leave Santa hanging.”

I agreed.

Blitzen continued, “We all decided that something had to be done. But what?”

I wracked my brain, trying to come up with an answer. “I’m not sure.”

Donner was champing at the bit. “I mean, there was no way Santa was to show up at chimneys with only two Ho’s. They’d paid for three Ho’s. Three Ho’s were expected. They’d think Santa was a fake. Oh, my. That just wouldn’t do.”

Blitzen moseyed back into the conversation, “We put our heads together. The reindeer, the elves and Mrs. Santa. Decided we needed a detective. We could afford it. It would be a tax write-off. Business expense and all. So we hired a a real pro. Not one of them Sam Spade types.”

Donner was back in. “We got that Hercules Parrot. He’s the one we’ve heard so much about. And I got his autograph too.”

“Was he available?” I asked. “I heard that he retired and was no longer taking cases.”

Blitzen ignored the younger Donner’s enthusiasm. “Yes, we got him. Monocle and all. Because of the importance of the case, he was willing to come out of retirement.”

I was impressed enough to repeat the word, “Monocle.”

“We had to pay top dollar too,” Donner said with a bit of pride. “But it was worth it. When he arrived, a calm came over the situation. We knew we had the right man for the job.”

“What a coup,” my wife said.

“This is Santa,” Donner said, “we’re talking about. Only the best for the boss.”

A tear rolled down Blitzen’s eye. “He’s more like a father to us than a boss. When Mrs. Blitzen had the twins, we asked him to be their godfather. We couldn’t believe he’d agree but he did.”

“He’s the epitome,” my wife said, “of Christmas charity.”

“While Monsieur Parrot worked on the case,” Donner jabbered on, “the Elves fashioned a temporary Ho. And I helped too.”

Blitzen shook his head and his deep voice added, “It wasn’t the real thing. Didn’t have the depth. And a bit clumsy. But it was an emergency. We needed a stand-in.”

“So? Did Monsieur Parrot save the day?” I inquired, anxious to know.

Donner spoke at the speed of light. So much was his enthusiasm for the detective. “He took each of us aside and grilled us, ‘Where were you on the night of the fifth?’ I can remember how that voice went deep inside me and stirred up all the fear I had ever had. I thought he was going to accuse me. Trembling, I answered, ‘I don’t know because tonight is the night of the fifth.’ ‘Of course, it is,’ he said. ‘You answered correctly. You must not be guilty.’ I was so relieved.”

Blitzen continued, “When he had finished with us, there was one that was missing.”

My wife and I looked first at Donner, then at Blitzen

The two reindeer joined together and said, “Rudolph.

“The red-nose guy?” my wife asked.

Blitzen said, “I’m afraid so.”

Donner slowed down. “Yeah. Rudolph being the hero and all last year. We were surprised.”

“Unfortunately,” Blitzen said in his deepest voice yet, the kind of voice that can only be used when you say unfortunately, “Rudolph made a real mess of things.”

Donner picked up again. “Monsieur Parrot has this special hound, Monsiuer Basset. He tracked Rudolph down. Finally found him hiding in Santa’s chimney, shaking his booties off. Man, he was such a sight with all that soot on him.”

Blitzen continued the tale. “Before any of us had time to comment, Monsieur Parrot stepped forward. ‘Monsieur ‘Udolph, I presume.’ It was a statement, not a question.

“‘Y-y-yes,’ the poor fellow said, shaking from antler to hoof. His pathetic look had turned our anger into pity. He was such a pitiful thing, sitting there in that chimney.

“‘It is not fashionable to wear a suit of soot. I would say you are hiding. Is this not true?’ Monsieur Parrot inquired.

“All Rudolph could do was shake his antlers and red nose yes.

“‘Please step forward,’ Monsieur Parrot commanded, ‘And tell us why you are dressed so unfashionably.'”

Donner now came in. “He was such a poor thing. Rudolph with his shiny young reindeer nose. It was shiny no more.”

“The poor dear,” my wife offered.

Blitzen took out his pipe, lit it and finished the tale. “Rudolph stepped out of the chimney. Beneath him was Santa’s missing Ho, broken into a hundred small pieces. We couldn’t believe it. We just couldn’t believe it.” Smoke curled out of Old Gray’s pipe. It curled into a teardrop, then flew away as smoke often does.

“Rudolph dropped to the floor out of sorrow and hunger. He had been missing several days, hiding out in the chimney.

“‘Feed the poor creature,’ Monsieur Parrot ordered, ‘and get him cleaned up. Then we will question him.’

“It took several hours to put Rudolph back together again. But it was much easier to put him back together than it was the Ho. Finally, Monsieur Parrot continued his questioning, ‘Tell us what happened.’

“Even though Rudolph had been spiffed up, he was still down in the mouth. He knew he was about to get kicked out of the Reindeer Brigade. He looked up at Santa, Monsieur Parrot and the rest of us with those mournful eyes of his. ‘I’m so sorry, Santa. I wanted to make an impression. Last year I almost tripped when I led the sleigh with my red nose. I knew I needed coordination and I had read that juggling would help.’

“As he said all this, he was crying. It was very sad. ‘The only thing I could think of to juggle was your Ho’s, Santa. At first, I was careful. Very careful. I became over confident and tried a juggle I should have left alone. I stumbled, and I dropped the third Ho. It smashed. I was so scared. I put the other two Ho’s back and cleaned up the smashed one. I didn’t think anyone would look for me in this chimney.’

Donner chipped in. “I always knew Rudolph was a problem. Him and that red nose of his. Show off. Wanted all the glory.”

“Now, now,” Blitzen said. “You’re not so hot yourself.”

My wife was crying. “I’ve never heard such a sad story.”

Blitzen wasn’t through. “Monsieur Parrot was paid. The North Pole Council of Elves, Clauses and Reindeer held a meeting. Everybody knew the trouble Rudolph had caused. It was going to take a year to order a new Ho and have it shipped to the North Pole. Just as we were about to banish poor Rudolph, Mrs. Claus saved the day.”

“Leave it to Mrs. Claus,” my wife said admiringly. “She is a miracle worker.”

Donner stepped back in. “She scooped up all the pieces of the broken Ho and stirred them into a big pot of chicken soup. She cooked it overnight. When she took the cover off the pot the next day, the chicken soup had disappeared. In the middle of the pot was one complete Ho. And it was as good as new. Then she said to the Council, ‘You can only have this Ho if you forgive Rudolph.'”

Blitzen finished out the story. “Of course, the Council was so happy we forgave Rudolph. With a warning. ‘Never play with somebody else’s Ho.'”

Uncle Bardie’s Movie of the Week: Arthur Saves Christmas

Once a week on Monday, Uncle Bardie shares a movie with his Readers he gives a big two thumbs up. It will simply be a short excerpt or a trailer for the movie. From time to time, a reflection on the movie will appear below the video. So pop some popcorn and give yourself a treat. This week’s movie is an extra special Christmas movie, “Arthur Christmas” (2011):

As y’all know, I have not done an animated feature here at Uncle Bardie’s Movie of the Week. Until now. You see, it’s Christmas and what better way to celebrate than with an absolutely scrumptious animated movie. So sit down, relax and get ready for Arthur time.

Back in the long ago time of 2011, Arthur was doing his regular job at the North Pole. Answering letters from boys and girls everywhere who might have an itsy, bitsy, teeny weeny doubt about Santa’s existence. It’s Arthur’s job to assure the children that Santa not only exists but he will be making deliveries at their houses.

How can Arthur sell Santa so sincerely. He’s Santa’s youngest. And he’s up to the job of Christmas cheer ‘cause there’s one thing Arthur loves more than anything. Arthur loves Christmas. He loves Christmas so much he is the embodiment of the Christmas spirit. Think Christmas and Arthur’s face comes up.

In this movie, there are no villains. I repeat. There are no villains. No grinches either. ‘Course Santa’s tired and ready to retire. Just one more Christmas delivery and it’s the sandy beaches of Florida. Only one thing to do after this final delivery. Choose a new Santa. The candidate most likely is Arthur’s older brother, Steve. Steve does have a lot of enthusiasm for the whole Christmas gig. He has whipped the elves into shape the way only a good drill sergeant can.

So it’s Christmas Eve, 2011. Santa takes out the new, extra special twenty-first century sled for delivery duty. At his side is the 1st Field Elf Battalion to do the dirty work and get the toys to every deserving boy and girl, and some not so deserving. “Operation Santa Claus is coming to town.” The sled is faster than a speeding bullet, making its rounds. Every child gets the special Santa treatment. Except one. Gwen.

You heard me right. Santa missed a child.

“But Santa never misses a child,” you say.

When Arthur realizes that Gwen has been missed, he calls it to Steve’s attention. Steve ignores him. He calls it to Santa’s attention. Santa ignores him. After all, it’s Arthur and he can be a bit of a pain. What with his Christmas over-the-top enthusiasm. Besides what is one child. “Christmas is not a time for emotion,.” according to Steve.

Arthur decides that it just won’t do that Gwen will be missed. He takes it personally that a child was missed. He goes off on a mission to save Gwen’s Christmas. With a little help from Grandsanta, his old wooden sleigh Evie and an elf named Bryony.

So get in the Christmas spirit and cheer Arthur on. He just might make it. After it is Christmas and miracles do occur.

Uncle Bardie’s Coming to Town

It was the night before Christmas.
All through the house there wasn’t a sound.
Even the baby was not peeping a peep.
For Uncle Bardie was coming to town.
He sped up to the front of the house
In his red fifty-seven Cadillac.
He gave out a shout the size of a roar.
We were under an Uncle Bardie attack.
“I have an offer you cannot refuse.
If you don’t let Uncle Bardie come in,
I’ll huff and puff and blow your house down,”
He said, giving us all his devilish grin.
As we trembled in our booties, on he went,
“I know you were hoping for Santa.
He can’t make it on account of delays
In Chicago, Topeka and Atlanta.”
With that, he gave the front door a big blow.
In he stormed like a blizzard from the north.
To get out of his way, the family walked back
One step, two steps, three steps, and a fourth.
Dad in his pajamas, Mom in her robe,
I in my p.j.s with a cap on my noggin’
Glad Baby was upstairs to miss the horrors
Of Uncle Bardie through the house a-sloggin’.
He hurried over to the tree in the corner
Lit up for Christmas Christmasy and green,
Smashing gifts like Thor with his hammer
Ripping open stockings like the grinchiest fiend.
Mom was all upset and out of her mind
With Uncle Bardie’s grunts and his groans
Though she dared not move even a pinch.
As the house gave off its very deep moans.
Finally her courage rose up from her toes
When U B found the stuff he was going for.
She sprinted across the room ever so fast.
It was quite a sight to see Mom going to war.
She snatched Santa’s cookies out of his hands
Before he stuffed them into his very big mouth.
“No you don’t,” she said with a rage second to none.
Her foot gave him a smash in the very deep south.
As he rolled out of the house and onto the lawn,
She said in a voice that would make the devil shake,
“Those are Santa’s and you’d better leave them alone.”
Uncle Bardie had been hit with an earthquake
He would never forget in all the years to come.
“If that’s the way you feel, I’m gone like a light
There’ll be no gifts from your Uncle Bardie.
So merry Christmas and a very good night.”
Well, the earth it quivered and the snow did too
As he got back into his bright red Cadillac
And he flew off to other parts of the family
Soon to be under an Uncle Bardie attack.