WHAT TO SAY WHEN THE CAROLERS SHOW UP
by Todd Hartley
In the spirit of inoffensive political correctness, I want to wish all Christians, Jews, Sunni Muslims, people of African descent, Buddhists, Wiccans, Canadians, Humanists and Zoroastrians everywhere a belated merry Christmas, happy Hanukkah, memorable Ashura, joyous Kwanzaa, fantastic Bodhi Day, festive Yule (or Litha, for you southern hemisphere Wiccans), super Boxing Day, sensational Human Light and celebratory Death of the Prophet Zarathustra.
And to you folks of other faiths and ethnic backgrounds, I would like to offer a happy Festivus and my sincerest apologies; I’m not trying to exclude you, but you don’t have any holidays in December. Get with the program, people.
There we go. Everyone happy? Great.
I, myself, was supposed to be a Presbyterian (or whatever the P is that makes WASP a clever acronym), but my dad played golf on Sundays, so it was hard for my mom to convince me that church was more fun. Regardless, I celebrate Christmas, and I had a very nice one, though I’ve learned that now that I have a 3-year-old child, Christmas no longer has anything to do with me.
I did have one weird thing happen to me this Christmas, however. I had some carolers show up at my door. I don’t know anything about non-Christmas holiday traditions, but I doubt there are any much odder than caroling (or “wassailing,” provided you’re drunk). I have to say the whole experience was a little disconcerting.
At first I thought the people at my door were Jehovah’s Witnesses, and I was about to invite them in for a nice, long chat, but then I noticed they were drinking. As one might expect, I picked up the phone and started to call the cops, because, let’s face it, people you don’t know showing up drunk on your doorstep is generally a cause for alarm.
Thankfully, the strangers burst into a rousing chorus of “O, Tannenbaum,” and I realized they weren’t there to rob me but were merely being friendly, creepy neighbors. Convinced there was no threat to my personal belongings – and unsure of what my response was supposed to be – I reluctantly opened the door and offered the carolers a few Bit-O-Honey candies my son got in his Halloween bag but didn’t eat.
They laughed away my awkward gesture and, having reached the end of “O, Tannenbaum,” launched into a spirited rendition of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”
“We wish you a merry Christmas,” they sang. “We wish you a merry Christmas. We wish you a merry Christmas, and a happy new year!”
“Why, thank you,” I said. “That sure is nice of …”
“Now bring us a figgy pudding!” they demanded.
“Bring us a figgy pudding!”
“I don’t even know you,” I protested.
“Bring us a figgy pudding, and bring it right here! We won’t go until we get some.”
I was more than a little taken aback by this strange turn of events. It started to dawn on me that these people at my door didn’t really care if I had a merry Christmas or not. They were just looking for dessert. I racked my brain trying to think of a way to get rid of them.
“I don’t know what figgy pudding is,” I told the carolers, “but I have a Snack Pack pudding. I could stick a Fig Newton in it and give it to you. Would that be enough to get you to leave?”
The carolers shook their heads. “We won’t go until we get some.”
“How about if I throw in the Bit-O-Honeys, too?”
“We won’t go until we get some.”
I shrugged in resignation, but then I suddenly remembered that my neighbor, on his return from a trip to England, had given me a can of something called spotted dick, which sounds like a horrible disease but is apparently some sort of food product. (I swear I’m not making that part of this column up.) I hadn’t eaten it because, well, it’s called spotted dick.
“I know,” I told the carolers, “I have something that I’m pretty sure is essentially pudding with raisins in it, so it at least has some sort of dried fruit. Would that do the trick?”
They briefly considered my offer before nodding. “Bring it right here.”
I retrieved the can from my pantry and handed it to the lead caroler. “Here you go,” I said merrily. “Have a great Christmas and a happy new year yourselves. Go enjoy that dick.”
Todd Hartley was the voice of Theodore on the original recording of “The Christmas Song” by Alvin and the Chipmunks.