Daddy’s Christmas Carol

(With apologies to Dickens)

Stave 1: Farley’s Ghost

Everything was in place for Christmas morning. Wife was going to bed. I wanted to finish my drink before following her. There wasn’t much left, so I wouldn’t be long. I sat on the couch admiring the tree and all of its ornate glory. The decorations on the bottom of the tree came from The Boy, who was the smallest of the family and could only reach so high. Ornaments were hung here and there, almost haphazardly. Anyone who met The Boy wouldn’t be surprised by this display of roughshod decorating.

A Christmas tree with ornament and garland.

I took my last sip of Holiday Cheer. I needed to get to bed. It was after midnight. It wouldn’t be long before wife and I would be met with the giddy screams of children who live for nothing else but to ruin our peaceful slumber. Children who would come crashing into our bedroom and use our bed for some type of trampoline or gymnastics mat. I stood up and made my way to the Christmas tree. I turned it off. I was about to leave the room and head upstairs when I saw a car pull up to my house and stop with a lurch. It was an old car whose door creaked open and a silhouetted figure stepped out of the car. I couldn’t make out the person but I had an eerie feeling they could see me in the dark room and they knew I could see them.

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The figure made its way up my driveway. As it came closer to my house, the tree lights somehow turned back on. They were dim at first but got brighter with every step the figure took towards my house. I couldn’t move. I stood there looking out the window, unable to take my eyes off of it as if it was silently commanding me to watch him.

A man looking around after he thought he heard something.
Sitting by myself. I thought I heard something.

Soon it was at my doorstep. It’s arms didn’t move, but I could see the door unlocking, like Wife had installed one of those early-adopter apps she likes to use and she was using such a thing to remotely lock and unlock doors. The door opened and the figure I saw leaving its car and approaching my house presented itself to me. It was a ghostly figure in the form of a man.

“Who are you?” I asked him, or it, not even sure he could understand me.

“Ask me who I was,” he answered.

“Okay,” I said. “Who you was?”

“In life, I was your high school teacher, Jack Farley.”

Mr. Farley? I remembered him. He was my Psychology teacher in senior year. I remembered hearing he had passed away years ago. I was tired, but he just got here and I didn’t want to be rude.

“What brings you here, Mr. Farley?” I asked him.

“It is required of every teacher that they should walk the earth and see that the students they taught are doing well with their lives,” Mr. Farley said. “That they are leading good lives and setting good examples for the children they raise and the children they meet.

“I’ve been out of high school for over twenty five years, and you decide to look in on me now?” I asked.

“You weren’t my only student,” Mr. Farley reminded me. “I have other students to check on and it’s not like they gave me a new car to do this.”

I looked outside. I could see the outlines of Mr. Farley’s car. It looked well-used when I was in high school, and that was a long time ago.

“Well,” I said, “I can tell you that I have five children under this roof. Each and every one of them could use a dope slap every now and then, but for the most part, I think Wife and I have them on the straight and narrow. Look, Mr. Farley, I don’t mean to be rude, but it’s getting late and my kids, especially The Boy are going to be up long before the sun with tomorrow being Christmas, and all. I appreciate you looking in on me. Things are going alright for us. I can tell you I’m doing well and things are good.”

That wasn’t good enough for Mr. Farley. I could tell by the look on his face he had more to tell me. Honestly, I was hoping he would save it for another day (a day. Like daylight when I was up and awake and didn’t need to go to sleep) and let me go upstairs to bed.

“Tonight, you will be visited by three ghosts,” he said.

“Tonight?” I asked. “Halloween was two months ago. Why do I need to see ghosts tonight?”

“Expect the first tonight when the bell tolls one.”

We were really doing this. I could see it didn’t matter to Farley how tired I was or what I had going on tomorrow.

“Bell tolls?” I asked him. “Look, Hemingway, we don’t exactly toll bells around here. Even phones ‘ringing’ don’t sound like ringing bells anymore. No bell, no tolling, no ghosts. Sorry Mr. Marley – I mean – Farley, but this house isn’t going to be able to accommodate that.

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Expect the second when the bell tolls two.

Again with the bell tolling. What is it with this guy – ghost?

“The third will visit when the bell tolls three.”

“One, two, three,” I said. “Simple enough.”

“I tried to keep it simple for you, Gregory. Math wasn’t your strong suit.”

“Gregory?” I asked. “And when did you become a math teacher?”

He wasn’t listening. He had already turned and walked through the door. At least I didn’t have to worry about him closing it, like I do with my kids. He walked down the driveway. The lights on the tree dimmed with each step he took toward his car. He looked at me one last time as he opened the door and got in. I’m wondering when and why he chooses to open some doors and walk through others. His car started and drove off. I stood there alone in the dark room, trying to figure out if what I thought I had witnessed had actually happened. Whether or not it did, it was a good enough reason for me to pour a quick one and process the supernatural events that had occurred. Once again, it had happened with no one else around, so if I decided to tell Wife about it. She would just tell me that I had interesting stories. My kids might believe me. Then again, they might not.

Next: The Ghost of Daddy Past

A fireplace with garland hanging on the mantle over it. There is an elf next to it in front of the tools.

The Family Meets St. Nicholas

(Based on “A Visit From St. Nicholas/’Twas the Night Before Christmas” by Clement C. Moore)

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house. Kitty was purring. She’d just killed a mouse.

My glasses were cleaned and laid out with care in hopes that bourbon and beer would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds while visions of more screens danced in their heads.

Wife on her side of the bed. Me on mine. Wondering how long ’til a child climbs in.

When down in the kitchen there was such a clatter. I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

Turned on the light. Blind from the flash. Hand over face to see who it is.

The moon outside shone on the snow gave a luster of midday to objects below.

When what to my wondering eyes should appear, but The Gaggle, The Boy, The Oppressed in good cheer.

They poured out some eggnog, so lively and quick. I shooed them to bed. Here comes St. Nick.

More rapid than eagles his coursers they came. And I shooed and scattered as I called them by name.

Now Lovie, now Slugger, now Slapshot and screwball. Junior and Dearie, make haste down the hall. Go to your rooms. Get in your beds. Make not a peep. Just rest your heads.

I wanted to throw them, to make them fly.

There was a lack of hustle. They just rolled their eyes.

Meanwhile, I heard a sleigh slow to stop

Eight not-so-tiny-deer resting on top.

A Christmas vision

The sleigh-driver hopped off. Claus and bag, too

I hoped that bag had a bottle, brand new.

Something nice, tasty and strong.

Something enjoyed after homework gone wrong.

As I drew in my head, and was turning around,

Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,

Kitty was watching. She just had to look.

A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,

Toys for everyone. Jills and Jacks.

His eyesβ€”how they twinkled as gifts were dispersed!

He sung to himself a nice Christmas verse.

His droll little mouth carried the tune

As the Christmas Star rose high over the moon.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,

Made me grateful he wasn’t vaping. What a relief

He had a broad face and a little round belly,

That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly.

He was gen’rous and kind, a right jolly old man,

With a bottle of single malt scotch in each hand.

A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,

Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

I asked him to stay for some Christmas cheer.

He politely declined, then waved to our Dears.

The children had been right there standing behind us.

By the time I looked back, Santa had left us.

The Miracles of Christ stood there and smiled.

The Boy pointed and asked, “Is this one my pile?”

But I hope you enjoy your own Christmas night.

Happy Christmas to all. Daddy’s tired. Good night.

Happy Christmas!

Christmas Spirits… and Wine… and Beer

As you know, I take my drinking very seriously. I fancy myself to be somewhat of an expert on beer. I am still learning about scotch and bourbon but I’ve always thought learning is fun.

During the Christmas season, I always try to read “A Christmas Carol” and one or two other stories of the Season written by Charles Dickens. Christmas in Victorian England seems like a fascinating thing to me and Wife. The Spirit. The decor. One time wife had to go to London on business not long before Christmas. She returned with mini mince pies, Christmas pudding, and some catalogs that featured some dinners you could order and pick up in time for Christmas dinner. Turkey. Goose. Beef. I asked wife if they shipped international orders.

Okay. Back to the drinking. I like drinking and I also like history. I have a book on what they drank during Colonial America. Colonists took what they had and turned it into delightful and delicious concoctions. Everything organic and made from scratch. Ever have a Rattle-Skull? Delicious.

One of my favorite recipe sources.

I first learned about a drink called a “Smoking Bishop” the first time I actually read “A Christmas Carol”. I was intrigued enough to look it up. It looked interesting and easy enough. I made a batch and it was wonderful. I try to make some every year. There are lots of variations on the recipe. I don’t know if there is one “original” recipe but this is the one I use.

Photo: toriavey.com

Speaking of “A Christmas Carol”, Fezziwig served Negus at his Christmas party. I’ve looked for a recipe to this drink. The easiest one calls for a mixture of port wine and boiling water. Add some nutmeg and cinnamon. A little lemon juice. Some suggest you mix the nutmeg and wine and let it sit for an hour or so. I make it and serve immediately with a lemon wedge.

I’m always looking for new things to try. I don’t need to look for reasons. The Miracles of Christ give me plenty of those by themselves. What do you like to make and drink? I know a lot of people like egg nog. Wife has a special recipe for that that has been handed down for generations. I like to sample some of that to. After all, ’tis the Season.