Phyllis Beveridge Nissila
INTRODUCTION TO HOLIDAY HUMOR SERIES
A merry heart doeth good like a medicine. (Proverbs 17:22)
A friend of mine and I were discussing how tyrants dislike humor.
And there seem to be a, ah, boat-load of tyrants, these days (pick your “ism”), many, infamous on the world stage, most, petty locals, and some meaner than a junkyard dog, as the expression goes.
Know what I mean?
We discussed two main reasons:
- For one thing, humor is often the very best way to expose truth to the most people (satire, for example), especially in this, The Day of the Cancel Culturians who sport their own brand of Grinch.
- And these days of so much planned, some say, ill will and illness, the Cancel Culturians likely also know that if you want to break things down it works better if the masses are bogged down with bad vibes, kind of like viruses that weaken the systems and put you to bed for days, weeks, or longer. But at the very least, cancelling fun wipes those grins, giggles, guffaws, and good old-fashioned gut-busting belly-laughs right off the medicine shelf where you keep the stress relievers.
For this new holiday-themed series, I’m going with reason number two, and offering my attempt at good old-fashioned fun that I hope will also serve to brighten the spirit and lighten that load.
There may be some satire involved, but no worries. It’s circa the 1990s when I wrote a twice-monthly humor column for the local press and other venues, and there were barely any of today’s brand of CC and Gs.
That said, it’s amazing how some things change while others stay the same.
I will warn you, however, if you have certain sensitivities that might require a “holiday safe space and a Teddy Bear” you’d best arrange for that now because the Christmas catalogs are already being stuffed into the mailboxes, their Internet ads popping up all over the place, 24/7.
In the spirit of this series and this season full of bells that ring for good times not more bad news, and whistles that signal fun not foreboding, I will start with one of my own holiday sensitivities: fruitcake (switch out the Teddy Bear for a mug of mulled wine) and add a couple more:
- fruitcake (“dense, fruit- and nut-studded, gumdrop-festooned holiday “confection” eaten by some but used by everybody else for a variety of both indoor and outdoor purposes”–which is thought to be a rough translation from ancient days when our forebears appeared to have used theirs (dipped in wildebeest oil?) to light their caves, thus solving the problem of how to etch all those woolly mammoths on the walls at night after spending the day hunting, gathering, spearing woolly mammoths, and pillaging the neighbors for any of their leftover fruitcake. The centuries-aged variety now known as “puddingstone.” Maybe. SEE BELOW*;
- people with whom we gather to be festive and feastful but who hold differing opinions on Certain Issues–and, worse, some of whom actually LIKE fruitcake and are wont to perpetrate some on unsuspecting hostesses;
- small children who will, for at least a day or two, play incessantly with all their whizzers and wobblers and bouncers and ringer-dingers and video games like “Hairy Spider Gnomes that crawl up the bedposts until you whack them down with your Hairy Spider Gnome Magic Club.” Or something like that. But it’s remarkable how it does hold the attention of a child 3+. WARNING: a few children may find it hard to sleep at night due to extended exposure to the Hairy Spider Gnomes.
And the last thing that might find you crawling for a safe space, a Teddy Bear, and/or a mug, are those…
- Internet ads popping up all over the place 24/7. (Sales having begun weeks ago.)
So I invite you to take a journey with me to holiday humor columns past where you will meet people coping with what now seems like child’s play, as it were, in the ebb and flow of seasonal merriment/stress, including but not limited to Sister Vatican Marie, third grade teacher at St. Argyles and Brother Rod, shop class, Holy Namesake High, and featuring little kid holiday programs that don’t go quite as planned, Christmas tree gathering and decorating (magical and/or a test of perseverance), and perhaps most amusing of all, observing grown-ups grazing the toy aisles shopping for their kids and grandkids (and making sure the toys are suitable and safe, right?).
Any relationship to someone or someplace real is likely only a figment of your imagination or an indication that you may need much more time with Teddy, and a quiet, safe space of your own for a little while. And/or a mug of mulled wine (adults 21+). And/or more therapy.
Take with a full measure of fun.
But most of all, remember what a gift a merry heart is.
But if this isn’t your genre of grins and giggles, there are myriad sources of same.
Act fast, and you will also receive a colorful Puddingstone Door Stopper and a coupon for 10% off your next trek down the aisle of whizzers, wobblers, bouncers, ringer-dingers, and, just in, “Hairy Spider Gnomes II, Nano Edition.” WARNING: extended exposure to the HSG II might cause some adults to find it hard to sleep, too…
*RE: “fruitcake of the ancients” (aka “puddingstone?”)
Puddingstone, also known as either pudding stone or plum-pudding stone, is a popular name applied to a conglomerate that consists of distinctly rounded pebbles whose colours contrast sharply with the colour of the finer-grained, often sandy, matrix or cement surrounding them. The rounded pebbles and the sharp contrast in colour gives this type of conglomerate the appearance of a raisin or Christmas pudding. There are different types of puddingstone, with different composition, origin, and geographical distribution. Examples of different types of puddingstones include the Hertfordshire, Schunemunk, Roxbury, and St. Joseph Island (Drummond Island) puddingstones.
Looks like “fossilized fruitcake” to me, especially considering how long these things last.
Am I right?
But with any luck this year, modern versions (still fresh and sticky) will be, well, stuck on some container ship in the middle of the ocean circling until next year. However, that shouldn’t make any difference in both their durability and all-around usefulness.
Look for more on the ever-versatile, long-lasting, sturdy, and colorful fruitcake in this series in the near future, along with the rest of the fun–embedded here and there in between other features.
Image: Chris Reynolds / Polished Section of Hertfordshire Puddingstone, Hertford Museum /