Wednesday 22nd December, 2010
















Boots & Rod. Photographed by Edward, May 2010. ©2010 By Stanyan Music Group. All Rights Reserved

A Thought for Today

Christmas is another word for love.


25 December, 1998

A CHRISTMAS STORY from Finding My Father

Being a night person, most of the time Mom worked the swing shift in North Las Vegas, first in Lincoln Snyder’s soda fountain and later as a barmaid at the Northside Tavern; but once in awhile she would trade shifts, which meant that if it was summer and there was no school Billy and I would be free to go where we wanted to without much supervision. Our favorite place was the city dump..

If it was a weekend and there was no one around we would play on the tractors and cranes that moved the rubbish and debris. During the week we’d slide on our bellies past mounds of refuse, hiding from the attendants, who would always try to chase us away.

One Christmas Eve one of the bartenders got drunk and couldn’t report for work the next day so Mama worked a double shift. It was wonderful. We had the whole day and evening to play at the dump and it was our idea of a real Christmas. What treasures we found that day. A floor lamp, an easy chair with half the stuffing gone, an old box of somebody’s discarded toys, old clothes, and more bottles than we could possibly carry to the market to redeem for the meager deposit.

Sometime during the afternoon it occurred to us, as a surprise for Mom, to redecorate the house with the furniture and odd bits of bric-a-brac we’d found at the dump. Billy had a red and yellow wagon and we must have made twenty trips, lugging all our goodies home. Of course, to make room for these treasures, we had to move all the furniture and trunks already in the house out into the front yard. While we were doing this, someone came by and thought we were having a rummage sale. I couldn’t believe it when Billy came running in to tell me he’d been offered $5 for Mama’s dresser. What a source of newfound money!

In just over two hours we were able to sell all the furniture we’d moved out on the lawn, plus the curtains from the windows, pots and pans. And Mama’s doilies. We even sold the oilcloth off the kitchen table for twenty-five cents.

It would be dark soon and so we had to complete our refurbishing before the light faded. I don’t think either of us ever worked so hard. In the end we were both so tired we fell asleep on the torn and soiled, but pretty, satin bedspread we’d replaced on Mama’s bed after selling off her comforter.

You can imagine her surprise when she came home from working two long shifts serving drinks to merrymakers and refereeing bar bouts between Christmas drunks.. Perhaps ‘surprise’ is not the correct word. I’m not sure what is.

Mama was too tired to spank us but she screamed and cried a lot. Though at the time we couldn’t understand why. She had the new floor lamp. Even if it didn’t work it could probably be fixed. And, our latest kitchen table was larger than the old one. I had nearly mashed my thumb while hammering a two-by-four in place to replace a missing leg. It now listed a bit, but the angle wasn’t so bad that utensils and plates would likely slip off.

The curtains were very different from the old ones; while there were only three windows in the living room, there were now twice that many curtains on them. I distinctly remember Mama having said many times that she’d like to get rid of that old junk in the house. ‘Just for a change.’ Well, now she had her change. We hadn’t yet found a replacement stove, but there were more than enough pots and pans left over from the sale that could be used if and when we did.

Mom continued to look dazed, but she came to life again when she started to sit down on the new davenport. It collapsed completely under her, all three sides falling away. It was then that I handed her the envelope containing the money we’d received from the sale of the old furniture: $71.30. It had been planned as a Christmas gift all along, and Billy had written in crayon on the outside of the envelope, To Mama, Merry Christmas from The Katzenjammer Kids.

Mama didn’t speak for a long time, but when she did she just looked up and said, "Merry Christmas." And it was.

- from "Finding My Father," 1975, 1976.

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notable birthdays Abigail Adams o Dame Peggy Ashcroft o Barbara Billingsley o Hoagy Carmichael o Thomas Cook o Charles deGaulle o Doris Duke o Hector Elizondo o Ralph Fiennes o Steve Garvey o Maurice Gibb o Robin Gibb o Peter Hall o Hawkshaw Hawkins o Lady Bird Johnson o Billie Jean King o Andre Kostelanetz o Rick Nelson o Wiley Post o Giacomo Puccini o J. Arthur Rank o Gene Rayburn o Kenneth Rexroth o Edwin Arlington Robinson o Diane Sawyer o Cecil James Sharp o Deems Taylor o Lynn Thigpin o Edvard Varese
Rod's random thoughts Each encounter that becomes a friendship turns into a lifeline. One can never have too many, only too many to take care of.

Most of our needs should far exceed our grasp. Or what are needs for?

We must continue to BELIEVE that many are the men of peace who from time to time will set out to walk among us.

The 1958 Christmas Card

Now softly come the minstrels
heads bowed into hymnals
caroling for cookies and safe smiles.
We owe them more than candy
for the redness of their ears alone.

Faint footsteps down the hill and gone,
their music dying through the trees
as back to Bach we go
       on phonographs and radios.

The needlepoint of patchwork quilts,
the counterpoint of carols.

Novembers come and gone too soon
there are so many quarrels
that we haven't finished,
and they might lessen
      in the January rain.

Quarrel in December?
November comes up every year.
This Christmas comes but once.

I am not master of the holly,
nor are you mistress to the fire.
Still, together we're the Christmas people
and dancing down the year-end has its merits.

We can fire our memories as the Yule logs burn
            and give away our secrets
        each in turn.

Never mind what Whitman said,
proud music of the storm never kept the nations quiet;
lovers each to each do that -
     they know that wars don't work forever.

Merry then and Alleluia too,
I love you just as much as I love Christ.
He opened up my life for me.
You unlocked the final door.

-from "Twelve Years of Christmas", 1969

© 1970, 1986, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2010 by Stanyan Music Group & Rod McKuen. All Rights Reserved
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