Some Disassembly Required…

So… Christmas Eve 2013. I’m at work; the building I work security in is emptying out slowly. My boss has taken her perogative, and I’ve been the stand-in manager all week; eerily familiar…

Schedules are written for the next two weeks out, payroll has been submitted… other than a broken car window and two people stuck in an elevator, nothing to investigate. No last- minute call-outs… yet… ( I was abducted by aliens, and they left me on I-80 in Nebraska, so I ‘ll never make it back in time...) and this one, which I  was actually expected to believe once ( my uncle fell off his motorcycle, and I have to take him to the emergency room ) or this one, my personal favorite ( my cousin is dying in Virginia, I have to get there before it’s too late) That one came complete with an obit notice from the Providence Journal. Very convincing, except for her bragging on Facebook that she wouldn’t miss the big party that weekend.

Well, it’s quiet so far. If I get out at 3 pm as scheduled, I have the huge Italian Christmas Eve Fish Thing to go to. It’s at my house this time, as it almost always is. Sandra has prepped for this for two weeks,  single-handedly committing to cook all the shrimp that came into the port of Galilee on 12/22/ 2013.

 Should I end up doing a double shift due to that pesky uncle again, and not be available to assist, then I might as well move to Nebraska my own self. Maybe the aliens will help me with that. I would rather that than face the Fury of an Italian Christmas Eve Fish Thing Chef Scorned. It is extraordinary, the things you can do with a wooden spoon.

Which all leads me to… the shrimp soup. It’s actually quite good, but a description of it usually frightens people badly. A long tradition of Sandra’s family, but no one quite seems to know where it ever came from.

Imagine a thin tomato broth, with celery, garlic ( of course )…with whole prunes floating in it ( think of them as giant raisins…) And tons of medium shrimp.

But the shrimp are tossed in whole, with shells and feet attached. ( Yes, I think feet is the correct word…)

So you really can’t eat it with a spoon. You ultimately have to reach in, pull the shrimp out, and disassemble them.

It becomes very messy. It should be served with individual tarpaulins with eye holes cut into them.

People either love it, or won’t go into the room when it’s being served.

Beyond the soup, there will be tons of baked stuffed, lobster mac and cheese, crab risotto, and many other water-borne creatures  represented that I am somewhat uncomfortable being in the presence of, living or dead.

Luckily, I am considered exempt from those, being an Irish in- law.

Well… it’s coming up on 12:00 noon, and no call-outs. Almost there…

I might just make it out of here on time. I have to get home and hose off my tarpaulin, it’s still a bit sticky from last year. And discretely remove all the wooden spoons.

And here’s wishing a memorable and merry Christmas to everyone and anyone who holds this holiday in high regard. It really is the best time of the year. And especially for all those in special need.

And isn’t that practically all of us?

Published in: on December 24, 2013 at 12:16 pm  Comments (1)  


Lately, my 0515 alarm clock has been going off to Lite 105, a local station that  starts playing Christmas music in early November (it’s the only station that my alarm clock will pull in anymore) This is just wrong, and should be stopped by Congressional decree.

Of course, that would be way too controversial for those guys. They would have to summon the courage to commit to a cause, and by blatantly siding with the Christmas people, may disenfranchise the Hindus, Muslims, Satanists, Wiccans, and Kardashians who may opt to vote them out of office in the next election cycle. And there you have it… American politics in a nutshell.

Any way… I awoke this morning to ” Sleigh Bells ” .  To jar your memory…” Come on, it’s lovely weather for a sleigh ride together with you…” Yes, that one.

And as is my habit, I lie there procrastinating as long as humanly possible, trying to avoid the distasteful reality of real life…. then dash up and try to make it to work on time. This, BTW, is precisely why so many coffee cups have gone flying off the roof of my car over the decades.

But this morning I had occasion to actually listen to ” Sleigh Bells” in some detail; and realized that the composer must have been a truly cruel and unusual person. Because ” Sleigh Bells” is really a viciously difficult piece of music to execute. It would be hard to carry that melody through on an instrument, never mind singing it.

Composed in  July 1948 by Leroy Anderson in Woodbury, Connecticut during a heat wave, it is far and away the most-performed/recorded/covered Christmas song of all time.

Leroy said that it didn’t start out as a Christmas song at all. It was just really, really hot that day. Pure escapism on his part. He’s not quite sure how the Christmas connection was made, but he certainly capitalised on it. Along with everyone else in the music business.

This contradicts my theory that all Christmas music came from one of two places; either from Protestant hymnals, or very talented Jewish guys from New York.

Should you take the time to listen closely, you might notice the very fast -paced melody, with much movement in it. Very sleigh-ride sort of thing, I would imagine.

There are some very difficult passages. There is a certain part that often gets changed by the parties attempting it, and in the most -heard most- popular version by Johny Mathis , it is omitted altogether.

None theless, it’s been covered a million times.

I can just imagine a large choir doing this piece, with the occasional white robe disappearing off the riser due to lack of oxygen, and being unceremoniously dragged off to the side, where EMTs are kept on standby.

I have to think that Leroy certainly was aware of the beast he was planning to release on Christmas revelers the world over. Christmas carolers passing out, and spilling scalding hot chocolate on their fellows.

And yet it sounds so light and airy to the casual listener. It’s supposed to sound that way.

Especially when it gets to that frightening passage in the bridge that singers are terrified of- and then it modulates up a half-step. That’s when the whole back row of the choir goes careening off the riser.

Merry Christmas!… from your friend Leroy.

Maybe I should buy a new clock radio…

Published in: on December 13, 2013 at 3:20 pm  Leave a Comment