Monday, December 05, 2011

SUPERXmas! Day 8: When Christmas was corykilverty

Don't forget to say Merry Xmas! to Mateo and McHale Shaw! Details here.

Last night, our plan had been to go to the Middleton Tree Lighting. But after a day of stopping off at the office and then going swimming at the health club, we got home and the boys were relaxing, Mr F by watching Toy Story downstairs, Mr Bunches by watching his favorite toy commercials on Youtube, so when it came time, after dinner and the Packer game to head out, I said to Mr Bunches "Want to go for a ride and see a Christmas tree?"

And he said "Stay home."

So we did.

And instead of going to the tree lighting, I read a series of Christmas-related short stories, some of them old, some of them funny, which I will now provide you with links to. These stories are all free and all hosted by "East Of The Web," so enjoy!

Markheim: Before Christmas was all "A Christmas Carol" and Victorian-inspired Christmas trappings, it was, people forget, largely just another holiday, and "Markheim" by Robert Louis Stevenson helps show that: It's a Christmas story that has a redemptive element but no other real Christmas feel. Markheim heads to a rare-goods dealer on Christmas Eve ostensibly to seek a last-minute Christmas present for his fiance -- but things take a twist first for the eerie and sad, and then to the even weirder... read more.

A Kidnapped Santa Claus. So Santa lives at the North Pole and works with elves? Could've fooled L. Frank Baum, who wrote this fable about Santa living in a place called "Happy Valley," where the river runs through green banks and Santa's assistants are fairies and other woodland creatures including something called "knooks." (Maybe Santa moved his operation offshore to avoid local high wages?) Santa gets kidnapped by five demons who are jealous of his hold over the kids. More of a kids' story, despite the presence of demons, or, as Baum calls them, "daemons." Read more.

Quail Seed. Nora Ephron's You've Got Mail didn't come up with the idea of the little shop competing with the big boxes. In this story by Saki, a small local merchant in English comes up with an ingenious idea to get the gossipy local shoppers to go to his store rather than London. Read more.

Bertie's Christmas Eve: another Saki story, about a spoiled nephew's wrecking the family's Christmas eve. It's a quick, light story the main virtue of which is the dry British humor:

the watchers in the cow-shed were treated to a highly unauthorised rendering of "Good King Wenceslas," in which the adjective "good" appeared to be very carelessly applied.

Well, I thought it was funny. Read more.

Compliments of the Season: Everyone knows Gift of the Magi, the O. Henry story we vaguely recall from sophomore English class. But O. wrote other Christmas stories, including this one that ranges from wickedly funny to ultimately sympathetic, with a beginning that tells you what you're in for:

There are no more Christmas stories to write. Fiction is exhausted; and newspaper items, the next best, are manufactured by clever young journalists who have married early and have an engagingly pessimistic view of life. Therefore, for seasonable diversion, we are reduced to very questionable sources - facts and philosophy. We will begin with - whichever you choose to call it.

Children are pestilential little animals with which we have to cope under a bewildering variety of conditions.

From there, it goes on to tell how the discovery of a rag doll lost by one such child, combined with a repressed memory of gentlemanhood, might have just saved a man's life. Read more.

Captain Eli's Best Ear: In another world, this story is the one that takes over Christmas the way A Christmas Carol has in our universe, and everyone is celebrating Christmas sea shanty style: Here, two old ship captains live quiet but peaceful lives -- until one year, Captain Eli hatches a plan to have the best Christmas ever, and the plan goes off without a hitch until, almost asleep on Christmas Eve, Captain Eli's good ear hears a distress cry out in the bay... will their good intentions, and Captain Eli's sleeping on the wrong side, wreck what would have been a great holiday? Read more.

Wondering where the title of this post comes from? In that O. Henry story, he describes the child that drives the plot as getting all corykilverty over the loss of her rag doll. It's a word that appears to have no meaning, which means you can use it however you want!

SUPERXmas! is my effort to do something Christmas-y every day between now and Christmas. Here's my previous efforts:

Prior Days:

One: Putting up the yard decorations

Two: Making a Christmas list

Three: Sleep, Actually

Four: How to make popsicle stick (SUPER)Xmas trees, in 437 easy steps.

5 & 6: It's a SUPERXmas! Miracle.

Day 7:
Santa, Babies.



Dr. Grumpy Bulldog, PhD of Awesomeness said...

Who needs short stories when you can watch "Ernest Saves Christmas" on Netflix? That is funny how Christmas used to be just another holiday and now it's the basis for our whole economy.

Michael Offutt, Expert Critic said...

My thoughts on Santa Claus:

1) If the legend were invented today in modern times, he would be accused of pedophilia.

2) If he were to book a commercial flight, he would have to pay for two seats instead of one because he's so fat.

3) We would see him on television hocking new diabetes products.

4) He would be a Republican because he would hate Michelle Obama and her crusade against obesity. He would totally side with a Republican dominated congress in declaring that pizza is a vegetable.

Ciara said...

I gave away our favorite Christmas book last year. Now, I'm searching everywhere to find a new copy. My little guy LOVES it. We went to see Santa and got our tree.