Lame Adventure 400: Signs of the Season

The signs of the holiday season are everywhere these days.

Looking forward to January.

Or bracing for SantaCon.

Big Bird multitasking as holiday eyesore.

Big Bird multitasking as holiday eyesore.

The other night I was walking east on Houston Street with my pal, Coco. We paused to observe the elaborate manger scene inside the gates of St. Anthony’s church when I nearly suffered a coronary.

Me: Coco, look! Jesus is missing! Is nothing sacred? Who steals Jesus?

Where's the life of the party?

Where’s the life of the party?

Coco: LBJ isn’t there because he doesn’t come out until Christmas Eve! We don’t have to get all CSI or re-enact the Lindbergh baby kidnapping!

To emphasize her point, to make me feel like the consummate stupido, Coco stabbed her studded, black leather-gloved finger at potential suspects.

"Did you take LBJ?"

“Did you take LBJ?”

Or you? Did you take LBJ?

Or you? Did you take LBJ?

I could not get my mind off Lyndon Baines Johnson.

Me: What has the 36th president got to do with this?

Coco: LBJ is Little Baby Jesus you dumb bell!

It was enlightening to learn that my friend leads a double life as the female Jay-Z. After Coco and I parted ways, I went home to the Upper West Side, where I saw another holiday display, this one in the window of the Citarella market on Broadway. It’s an edible replica of the Flat Iron building, their contribution to the Gingerbread Extravaganza.

This might not taste as good as it looks.

This might not taste as good as it looks.

This extravaganza is for a charitable cause, City Harvest, an institution that helps fight hunger in New York. To see all of the gingerbread structures in competition click here.

When I was growing up in San Francisco, a sure sign that Christmas was coming was when my mother would drag me with her to the Emporium, our go-to department store. Every year, a section of the store would be devoted to their made-to-order holiday cards. The cards were displayed under cellophane in thick oversized books that my mother would scrutinize for hours. If in reality we were only there twenty minutes, I was so bored it seemed to last an eternity. My mother, a perfectionist who was always more high strung than usual during the holiday season, would make mincemeat out of me if I dared touch one of those books. Those books were for adult scrutiny only and about as thrilling as math class. All of those cards were capital d Dull. The card my mother would select was always a variation of the same theme: a somber nativity scene. Snore.

When the cards arrived, Mom would spend hours at the kitchen table working on them, addressing each envelope in her perfect, flowery script. She would write thoughtful notes inside. Eventually, she cut herself a break in this masochism and stopped licking each stamp personally and began utilizing a sponge. It amazed me that she would send out hundreds of cards. My parents seldom ever had friends over. Who was she sending all of these cards to? Pages of random people in the phone book? I never asked. I knew that when she was in Christmas card mode to stay far away. If I could have moved to Mars I would have done so.

My salesman father would send cards to his customers. He’d be on the road filling his car with gas, notice cards on sale next to the motor oil and pick up whatever the grease monkeys were selling. This probably took him a total of six minutes and he even got his windshield washed. When my dad did his cards, at warp speed at his desk in the room he shared with my mom, I was allowed entry. I could light myself on fire, run in circles and scream at the top of my lungs.

In 1970, he came home with a card with a picture of a moose that had a red and white candy cane protruding from its mouth. Inside it announced, “Merry Christmoose!” I thought that was the greatest holiday card ever. Granted, I was only eleven, but I had never known there could be a funny Christmas card. When we received a card from someone that did not make my mother’s list, she had a meltdown. She had given out all of her made-to-order cards. My father had some extra Merry Christmoose cards. He offered his to her. The expression on my mother’s face was as if he suggested she write “Merry Christmas” on a dead seagull. She went out and bought a card.

This year is the first time in thirty years that I have not sent holiday cards. Milton wanted me to design my own, but I didn’t get around to it. When I visited a card shop in my neighborhood, I immediately noticed one I would have sent.

Inside caption: "Merry Christmoose!"

Inside caption: “Merry Christmoose!”

Unfortunately, this card was not available in a multi-pack. But I did send one to my dad.

Happy holidays Lame Adventurers.

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90 responses to “Lame Adventure 400: Signs of the Season

  1. Snoring Dog Studio

    Your dad is going to love it! That will be one of his best holiday memories. I can no longer bring myself to pay the exorbitant prices for cards anymore. They end up being tossed and you can’t regift them.

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    • I so hope you’re right, SDS! But after 43 years, “Merry Christmoose” may no longer be very fresh in my cranky 86-year-old pa’s noggin. He might think today, “What a dumb card, but man, it seems familiar!”

      If only we could regift cards! But I’m the type of weirdo that keeps the ones I get.

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  2. Happy holidays! I was confused by LBJ as well and wondered if it was Twitter speak. Didn’t think of Johnson though. I hardly ever do. I think you’d be appalled by how Christmassy it is in London. That took me by surprise my first year here. I thought it was just the US that went overboard. Not at all!

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    • As a yank living in the UK, admit it TBM, you’re the culprit that brought the US brand of holiday-mania with you across the pond! Some thanks for giving us the Beatles.

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      • Geez, who are you, my mother. Blaming me for this. I don’t even put up a Christmas tree. Haven’t in eight years. Miles and Att insist on taking out any tree we put up. Even when we tied it to several anchors the last time. Not only did they knock down the tree, but our curtain rod and the curtains. We gave up. Now our flat is so tiny we can’t. TBH did buy me a little tree for our garden, but it’s been raining for days so I haven’t decorated it. Out of the next 10 days I think they are forecasting 9 days of rain. You’d think I live in London or somewhere like that.

        Will you have a white Christmas?

        I do like the Beatles.

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        • Your house-wrecking critters are not shy about making a statement, TB. No white Christmas for me in the San Francisco Bay Area, but like London, there is the possibility of a spritz of rain. It’s usually pretty nice out there when I visit. The cold and snow can wait for me when I return to the Apple. I always have qualms with people who say they do not like the Beatles. Glad you’re on the right side of that divide. Back in the day, my ex, Voom, couldn’t name all four. She missed George. Even though she had quaffed four martinis while struggling to pass this crucial test, I knew we were doomed.

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          • I think my 92 year old dad could name all 4 Beatles. Not sure he is aware there are only 2 left. I will ask him next week when we get to MA for the holidays and report back.

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  3. How timely. Have to go get those address label thingy’s from the drug store and print out the voluminous stickers today. Bride in SF and Raleigh this week so I have about 3 days to address and stamp and mail our Xmas greetings cards for a whole bunch of folks we haven’t seen in years. Admittedly it’s not as personal and hand writing the names and addresses but there’s an infinitely smaller chance they will be misdelivered due to illegibility.

    Glad that Coco pointed out that LBJ was merely waiting in the wings for his grand entrance next week. I think he might have actually been attending a White Power meeting with Megan Kelly. But I could be wrong.

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    • Kinda late on getting the cards out, aren’t you? Did you get holiday-themed postage stamps?

      My sister, Dovima, is cutting edge. For years, she has hung a black Santa on her wall. I imagine when she went Christmas decoration shopping the day after Christmas Way Back When, only black Santa was available, but she didn’t think twice about it. Of course there’s probably some black family stuck with a white Santa. Black Santa has been a fixture in our family for years. My personal favorite Santa is Bad Santa.

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  4. My new favorite Christmas story!

    Love it!

    R.

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  5. Too funny! I saw one last year at Breck, but he wasn’t decked out in lights.

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  6. At home it was a team effort, my mom would get the cards and my dad would write, he’s handwrite it’s very nice and “classy”. But when I was 15, they stopped doing it and gradually we stopped receiving them too.
    I like to send postcards, and usually write something really “naughty” on them so the mailman or whomever reads them laugh or pass the story on.
    Sometimes my postcards get stolen, they never reach their destination.
    “Merry Christmoose!”

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    • If your postcards are subject to thieving, Leo, they must be wicked good! My cultural hero, John Waters, has been making his own Christmas cards since 1964. check out this article about him in the New York Times. I so wish Milton and I had seen his Christmas show. Maybe next year, we’ll put it on our bucket of fun list.

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  7. The moose rocks the lights big time!! Happy Holidays to you and yours my friend!

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  8. Merry Christmoose is just delightful. Inane, certainly, but delightful. I would go so far as to say it’s awe-possum. No, I’m not sorry.

    I only recently heard about Santacon. It sounds nightmarish, but the article I read said that New Yorkers HATE it, so I’m kind of a fan.

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  9. I’m really tripped up by LBJ too. Are they the same person?

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  10. Perfect card. I like it.

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  11. Ha! I was walking along Houston last week when I passed that nativity scene and thought the same thing! (Unfortunately I think that scene has been the victim of vandals in years past, so when I noticed LBJ was missing, I thought the same thing as you did)

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  12. Interesting the polar opposite approaches of your parents regarding Christmas cards. For the record, I don’t recall my family receiving one from your mom, so at least that ends part of the mystery receivers.

    Merry Christmoose …. that made me laugh as I’ve never seen that one! Meanwhile, I had to think about LBJ a tad, but I did get it before you spilled the beans.

    Happy Holidays to you … have a safe and wonderful trip west.

    PS: As you know … my holiday party is on Saturday, but my Christmas Eve post will be a good one of gifts, too.

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    • Frank, I think it was pretty obvious who was the introvert and who was the extrovert in that marriage. You can guess which one of them held onto their straight A report cards, too. And finally, you can guess who I take after. But every so often when I look at myself in the mirror I glimpse her in my face. Then, I nag myself to clean my room.

      As long as my iPhone is charged, I will try to visit your party.

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  13. Another great card would be a caterpillar in a cocoon with the message “Merry Chrysalis!” I love funny cards, even at Christmas. Especially at Christmas. Lyndon Baines Johnson in a manger—now that would be something!

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  14. My nieces always loved to kidnap LBJ at some point during the day’s festivities — much to the chagrin of their mom.

    :>
    MJM
    P.S. “Merry ChristMoose!” Love it! I also like the one of the peglegged pirate disgusted because he got “Socks! Again!!!” for Christmas.

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  15. Glad to hear you sent the Christmoose card to your dad. That a hoot. We haven’t sent cards in number of years, and certainly won’t be sending them this year either. We do send out a holiday letter electronically. Sara’s idea. However, I have to write it. Gotta get on that soon!

    Merry Chistmoose to you!!!

    Hugs from Ecuador,
    Kathy

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    • I am a bit surprised that someone as creative as you, Kathy, would not craft your own cards. Even I designed my own card one year to put that in perspective. Granted, it was about 25 years ago, but I did it and that card was a hit. Let me get this straight even though Ecuador’s currency is the US dollar, they don’t use US postage? What a blow! Yes, time is running out on writing that letter.

      Hugs back from the Apple!
      V

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  16. I appreciate the effort your mother put forth, but just trash boring cards. Your dad had the right idea. I hope you got the email of our Christmas card. We’re in LA now enjoying the 80 degree weather.

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  17. Congrats on your 400th Lame Adventure, V. And how perfect that you found a “Merry Christmoose” card to send to your Dad. I do send Christmas cards from time-to-time, but it’s so sporadic that I imagine I keep everyone guessing. And yes, all I could think about was Lyndon Johnson, too!

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  18. HA! That was hilarious! Christmas cards can sometimes get a little too crazy with the five-page newsletter attached. Luckily we don’t know anybody like that. Bu so glad you bought it … I bet your Dad will love it when he gets it. And congrats on writing your 400th Lame Adventure, I bet you have like a thousand more in you 🙂

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    • Thanks Guat. Every day of my life it’s another day, another Lame Adventure. You would not believe the nightmare that was the subway ride home. On second thought, yeah, you would. Let’s just say it was so crowded it was like being trapped fully clad in an orgy of The Miserable. Fortunately, no one cut a Silent But Deadly.

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  19. Four martinis. I may have struggled getting all their names as well. Here’s one of my favorite poems:

    “I like to have a martini,
    Two at the very most.
    After three I’m under the table,
    after four I’m under my host.”

    I used to have this on my martini glass until an unfortunate accident. Back in college I had to do a biography study on someone and after wandering through a bookstore for hours I decided to study Dorothy Parker. It was a wise choice since now at cocktail parties I have many of her quips memorized and people think I’m witty. Don’t give my secret away.

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    • I love Dorothy Parker, too, TB. She was a spewing fountain of great quips — when she wasn’t spewing into her purse. When I heard, “Men seldom make passes at girls who wear glasses,” my knee-jerk (emphasis on jerk) reaction was, “What a relief!”

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  20. Wasn’t LBJ response for keeping us in Vietnam? He’s got some questions coming his way that need answering!

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  21. I didn’t get a Christmas card from your mom, but maybe that’s because I was too young and my parents did. On my 29th b’day, my mother sent me a Happy 29th card. On her next b’day, I sent the card to her, and then she sent it back to me on my 30th, and so on for a couple of years. Amazing I can remember that far back.

    Anyway, congrats on no. 400! May you acquire as many followers as your mom sent Xmas cards to. Merry Christmoose, Buttercup. Happy Holidays with your family. Now I’m off to write my Christmas cards. I have successfully avoided writing them up until this point by reading my L.A. blog posts backlog. At least this year recipients may get my cards early; that is, they won’t be Happy New Year cards, as usual.

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    • That’s hilarious that you and Emma played ping pong with that card for so long! In my family, someone would have likely misplaced it and I’d bet the house that that someone would be me. Thanks for the well wishes Samantha, Merry Christmoose to you, too!

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  22. I have never really understood the reasoning behind Christmas cards. I don’t send any out and I don’t get any either. I like it that way.

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  23. You are hilarious. Can you say “lapsed Catholic”?
    When I was 5 I was the littlest angel and got to wear a veil and take the LBJ up to the creche at midnight mass.
    I love your family stories.
    Merry Christmoose!

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    • You might say “lapsed Catholic” Maggie, but let’s cut to the chase and admit it: there’s an atheist amongst us. Awwwwww, you must have been a cute angel. I loved midnight mass primarily because I got to stay up until midnight and our church smelled like pine. They had a display with freshly cut pine trees, or maybe they were fake freshly cut trees and what I was really inhaling was Pine-Sol. This happened a while ago.

      Merry Christmoose to you, too!

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  24. Best card I ever found had a boat with a fishing line hanging down into the water only the fishhook was a candy cane. It had fish swimming all around it and inside it said “May your holiday be full of sweet surprises.”

    Merry Fishmas!

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  25. So have you figured out who took LBJ? That’s really odd. The whole manger scene is null without the main character, isn’t it? Anyway, I wish you all the best in this Holiday Season. Enjoy your stay with friends/family in SF! Merry Christmas to you and yours!

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  26. In raptures here. One of the pet names of the Shrewsday clan is ‘moose’. Phil has been wishing people Merry Christmoose for many years, but we have never seen it written down.
    You have made our holidays.
    Have a great Christmas!

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    • Who would a thunk a family of wordsmiths like yours Kate, would be ‘moose’ enthusiasts? But I love it! It adds to the Shrewsday Mystique, which I think would be the name of a wonderful fragrance by Prince Matchabelli if it were not as odiferous as Macaulay, the legendary dead deer leg dragging terrier. Merry Christmas to you and all the Shrewsdays and all the Shrewsday critters in jolly old England!

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  27. Pingback: The Big Reveal, DIY and a Message | Susie Lindau's Wild Ride

  28. I used to hang a wire wreath form that holds Christmas cards, but when I had to start recycling old cards to fill it up, I knew it was time to quit. This is so sad. I print lovely Christmas cards to sell, but never find time to send them now! The good thing is that Christmas will come again next year and maybe I’ll get my act together in time! Have a wonderful warm Christmas. I’ll be thinking of you while everyone around me rejoices in abundant snow. Most likely I’ll be inside by the fire sipping a latte while I read my book. Merry Christmas!

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  29. Merry Christmas, sugar! I’ll have a blast reading my VERY OWN COPY OF LAME ADVENTURES Unglamorous Tales From Manhattan Cheers, sweetpea! xoxox

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  30. So nice photos!!! 🙂 Happy Holidays!

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