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Auntie Min's Tales of Christmas Past

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Old November 29th, 2010, 9:24 pm
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Auntie Min's Tales of Christmas Past

Auntie Min’s Tales of Christmas Past

By MinervasCat

A Tree Dies in North End
Auntie Min’s first Christmas with Uncle Sweetiepie was a most interesting time. She learned the meaning of patience, determination, and perseverance.

Uncle Sweetiepie was the Big Mugwump of a local “fraternal” group which, as most fraternal groups do, used their Club as a cover to get together and party. As Big Mugwump, it was Uncle Sweetiepie’s duty to set a good example for the other Club members, especially the noobies. And, he took his responsibilities very seriously.

As the Holiday Season approached, Auntie Min and Uncle Sweetiepie put up a beautiful Christmas tree to mark their first Christmas together. Many presents were exchanged and a Happy Holiday was had by all. A couple of weeks after Christmas, Auntie Min undecorated the tree and put everything away, then waited for Uncle Sweetiepie to take it down and dispose of it.

Unfortunatley, Uncle Sweetiepie’s Mugwump duties kept him pretty tied up after work, so the tree did not get taken down immediately. But, Auntie Min was patient, and waited for Uncle Sweetiepie to get around to removing the tree.

After several weeks, however, the once-beautiful tree was showing severe wear and tear. Auntie Min was determined, though, that Uncle Sweetiepie was going to take it down and dispose of it. It was three flights down to the ground floor of their apartment building, and she wasn’t about to drag a dry pine tree all that way and then clean up after it.

More time passed. Needles fell, and Auntie Min cleaned them up. Visitors came, and the Christmas tree, now reduced to nearly-bare branches clinging to a spindly trunk, sat, like an elephant, in the corner. The visitors would glance toward it and then look away quickly, not sure whether they should comment on it or not. They all chose “not.”

Soon, St. Patrick’s Day was approaching, but, Auntie Min persevered. It had now become a matter of pride, and she was not going to lose.

Finally, arriving home from a Club meeting one night, without a word, Uncle Sweetiepie went out to the back porch of the apartment and removed a panel of screening. As Auntie Min watched (with more than some satisfaction), he went to the closet and got out a heavily padded jacket and thick winter gloves.

Auntie Min sat smugly on the sofa as Uncle Sweetiepie took the pitiful remains of the Christmas tree out of the stand, dragged it to the porch railing, then threw it down into the small lot behind their apartment building. After removing his protective garb he replaced the panel of screening.

“I’ll put it in the dumpster tomorrow. Now, do you think you can at least clean up this mess?” he snarked at Auntie Min.

“Gladly,” she replied, unable to resist smiling broadly. Uncle Sweetiepie just glared and went on to bed.

In a short time all of the few remaining needles had been cleaned up, the tree stand stored away, and the furniture put back in place.

The next day Uncle Sweetiepie called from his office.

“Guess who I ran into when I started around back to get the tree so I could put it in the dumpster?” he chuckled.

“Who?” asked Auntie Min.

“The Landlord,” said Uncle Sweetiepie, hardly able to contain himself. “He said, “Look what some jerk did. They dumped an old Christmas tree on my lot.’” he laughed. “I said, ‘Gee. That’s a shame. Wonder who would do something like that?’ then, got in my car and drove away.”

Auntie Min laughed at Uncle Sweetiepie’s story, and, at the way things sometimes had a way of working out.

Cardboard Does Not Water Hold, Nor Cement a Tree Stand Make

One Christmas Eve, long ago, Auntie Min was putting the finishing touches on her Christmas decorations. Uncle Sweetiepie was bringing home a Christmas tree, and she had picked a nice corner to put it in.

Uncle Sweetiepie liked to wait until Christmas Eve to buy his trees because, being a frugal man, at least about Christmas trees, he felt he could get a bigger tree for less money. Uncle Sweetiepie liked big Christmas trees.

Unfortunately, one of the drawbacks of purchasing a tree so late is that the selection is limited. Uncle Sweetiepie found a nice, big tree, but, when he went to put in into the tree stand, the trunk was bent just enough to keep it from fitting.

But, as luck would have it, Auntie Min and Uncle Sweetiepie’s best friend, Big Mac, had stopped by for a little holiday cheer. By the time it became apparent there was no way the tree was going to fit into the stand, Big Mac was extremely cheerful.

“Hold on,” he cried. “I’ve got just the thing at work.” Big Mac worked for a building supply company and had access to all sorts of materials.

So, Uncle Sweetiepie and Big Mac headed to Mac’s office. Auntie Min didn’t know what to expect, because, when the two of them got together the results were not always positive. She waited apprehensively for their return, but, tried to hope for the best.

After a while she heard a car in the driveway and Uncle Sweetiepie and Big Mac came in carrying a cinderblock and a bag of something.

“This is new,” said Big Mac proudly. “It’s super quick-drying cement. It’s suppose to dry almost instantly. Get us a bucket to mix it in, Min.”

Auntie Min watched anxiously as the two men mixed the cement, then set the cinderblock into a cardboard box and poured the cement into it. Then Big Mac put the tree into their makeshift stand while Uncle Sweetiepie made sure it was straight.

“We gotta work quick,” said Mac. “This stuff’ll dry like that.” He snapped his fingers.

“Guys,” cried Auntie Min, in horror, as she watched the cement penetrate the cinderblock, then the cardboard box, then seep out into the carpet -- where it proceeded to do as the name implied: it dried quickly. Just not quickly enough.

Picking up his gloves and scarf, Big Mac headed to the door. “I think I need to get home and help Mrs. Mac with our tree,” he said hurriedly, then exited quickly, closing the door behind him.

Uncle Sweetiepie looked down at the cement-soaked carpet. “That’s OK, Min,” he said calmly. “The tree skirt will cover it.”

The following Christmas Auntie Min bought a nice, big, artificial tree with it’s own stand.

The Fine Art of Re-Gifting
When Auntie Min and Uncle Sweetiepie’s children were growing up they encouraged them to participate in the activities at Church. During Christmastime it became a family tradition for the children to participate at Midnight Mass, and then the family would go home and have snacks and open their presents. None of Auntie Min’s family being morning people, this worked out fine for everyone.

Another tradition was for Uncle Sweetiepie and his best friend, Big Mac, to go Christmas shopping on Christmas Eve (now that they had an artificial Christmas tree, Uncle Sweetiepie could devote all of his attention to…er…shopping.)

One year, Little Jack, another good friend asked to join Uncle Sweetiepie and Big Mac on their Christmas Eve spree. A good time was had by all, and they dropped Little Jack off at his house before heading home themselves.

Moved by the “spirits of the holiday,” Little Jack and his wife decided to drop by later that same evening and visit Auntie Min and Uncle Sweetiepie. Their timing was perfect, as they arrived just as the family was putting on their coats to leave for Church. Uncle Sweetiepie, being the consummate host, volunteered to stay behind and entertain the guests while Auntie Min took the kids and went on to Church.

Auntie Min was not a happy kitty when she got home, and Uncle Sweetiepie promised it would never happen again. But, unbeknownst to either of them, a new holiday tradition was born that year.

The following Christmas Eve things went smoothly, the shoppers returned home and, everyone bustled around to get dressed. Then, just as the family started off for Church, the Jacks arrived, this time with presents. Uncle Sweetiepie gave Auntie Min one of those, “what else can I do” looks, as she went out the door. Auntie Min returned the look with one that promised dire things when she returned home.

Despite a whole year to prepare, when the Jacks arrived the next Christmas Eve, Auntie Min was not ready for them. She’d not bought them a present, and they had come with another one for her family (it was the second of several of the ugliest cookie jars that Auntie Min had ever seen).

This odd tradition continued for another three years. By this time Auntie Min’s children were too old to participate in the Christmas pageant and preferred to go to Mass earlier on Christmas Eve so they could spend a bit of time with friends before settling in with the family.

Each year Auntie Min hoped the Jacks would forget to bring something, as she was never sure what to get them. But, each year they arrived with a present. Fortunately, they’d passed the cookie jar phase and now moved on to holiday mug sets and giant cans of popcorn.

But, just when Auntie Min had resigned herself to the idea that this not-so-fun tradition had become set in stone, Fate took a hand.

It was a particularly busy Christmas that year, with some of Auntie Min’s kids away from home and her having to make sure to get their gifts and mail them in time. She forgot to get a present for the Jacks. She didn’t realize it until late Christmas Eve. Not wanting to be embarrassed, she searched her cupboards and cabinets for something appropriate, and found a nice set of gourmet mustards that she guessed Uncle Sweetiepie had bought. She wrapped it and put it under the tree. The Jacks arrived right on time.

Feeling relieved that she had something for them, Auntie Min and Mrs. Jack exchanged their gifts. Auntie Min noticed her daughter making funny faces from across the room, then finally excusing herself and going to her bedroom.

After the Jacks left Auntie Min’s daughter came back out laughing so hard she had tears in her eyes.

“Mom,” she said, wiping the tears from her cheeks. “Don’t you remember those mustards?”

“Remember them? Why should I remember them?”

“Because the Jacks gave them to us last Christmas!” her daughter replied, falling onto the
sofa in fits of laughter.

“Oh, my,” said Auntie Min, joining her daughter. The more they thought of it the harder they laughed.

Christmas Eve came and went the following year, and the year after that, and the Jacks never came back.

“If I’d known it was that easy,” Auntie Min mused the second Jack-less year, “I’d have re-gifted them one of those horrid cookie jars. Then they could have known the fun of pulling cookies out of a doggie’s back end.”


I held you in my arms, although I knew that death
Had already taken you. I held you close, hoping for a faint heartbeat or breath
To prove me wrong.
But, you were still, and could not hear or see
My grief, my tears, my heartbreak knowing that the rest of my life would be
Spent without you.
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