Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Uncle Jim's Christmas Stocking

The other day, Buck left a comment saying he had a sense of deja vu concerning my previous post. He was, of course, being wry. He knew damn well he had seen it before. And I admitted as much in my reply to his comment. Today's post is also (as a used car dealer might phrase it) pre-read.

I'll be truthful with you here (which is a step in the right direction, I suppose, and maybe I'll be truthful with you all the time someday) and tell you that most of what you'll see here this month will be material that has appeared here before. Three reasons:

1 - These are Christmas stories and holiday reminiscences that received a good reaction the first time around, so why not trot them out on stage again for an encore?

2 - I'm lazy.

3 - I was told if I recycled posts often enough I would receive green certification from the EPA and get federal funding for this blog.

OK, so only two of those are truthful statements, but here's another one to make up for it. If you haven't read any of them before, they're just the same as brand new to YOU. Also, if you smack yourself over the head with a frying pan enough times, you'll forget you saw them before, so why not go do that? I'm fairly sure that sort of thing will make anything I write seem more coherent, anyway.

Enough blather. Here comes the old stuff!


Grand Uncle Jim

First things first: This is a story about an Irish family. While my name is Jim, and I’m an uncle, I also have an Uncle Jim of my own. There is an Uncle Jim mentioned in this story, but he’s not that Uncle Jim, although that Uncle Jim is the one who told me this tale of the other Uncle Jim. Actually, he’s Uncle Jim’s Uncle Jim, making him my Grand Uncle Jim (and some folks prefer the title 'Great Uncle', but let’s not open that can of worms.) It’s very confusing to the uninitiated, I suppose, so if it will keep you from getting a headache, feel free to think of the main character herein as Uncle Aloysius.

Anyway, when my father was very young – five or six - his Uncle Jim taught him a very valuable lesson.

My father had hung his stocking on Christmas Eve, as did all of the family. This included the older relatives, and that group included his Uncle Jim. Come Christmas morning, everybody took down their stockings and looked inside to see what Santa Claus had brought them.

The usual things were found inside the stockings - little toys, tasty candies, and other such trifles. Nice, of course, but nothing unusual. That is, until Uncle Jim inspected the contents of his stocking. He turned it upside down, and out rolled a lump of coal and an onion.

While good little boys and girls receive toys and candies, a lump of coal and an onion are, by tradition, what bad boys and girls receive. Seeing those things come from Uncle Jim’s stocking, my father laughed and laughed. Uncle Jim was a bad boy! He got a lump of coal and an onion!

While my father was laughing, Uncle Jim said, "Oh! This is wonderful! A lump of coal and an onion? These are just what I needed!"

My father thought his Uncle Jim had gone round the bend. How could someone be happy to have received a lump of coal and an onion in his Christmas stocking?

Uncle Jim picked up the lump of coal, then took my father’s hand and led him to the basement. They stopped at the furnace. Uncle Jim said, "It’s so cold today, this lump of coal is the perfect gift. I can put it in the furnace and we’ll be nice and warm all day!"

Uncle Jim then led my amazed father back upstairs. They returned to the family parlor, where Uncle Jim now picked up his Christmas onion. He led my father into the kitchen. While my father sat and watched, Uncle Jim chopped up the onion, and then mixed it with celery, bread, and spices. During all of this, he went on rapturously about how his stuffing for the turkey would have been no good whatsoever without an onion.

Later on, as my father sat in a warm house eating delicious stuffing with his Christmas dinner, the lesson was permanently burned into his memory: It doesn’t matter what you’re given. It’s what you do with it that matters.

Soon, with more better stuff.


stephen Hayes said...

I do remember this story from last year, but it's well worth repeating.

Anonymous said...

I love repeats of your Christmas stories.

lime said...

ah, perspective is a wonderful thing and a wonderful lesson to learn at an early age. i may see if i can get EPA funding for my blog too ;)

Jenn Flynn-Shon said...

And a perfect lesson indeed. Any time of year. Thanks for the re-run, its a good one!

Along These Lines ... said...

Like Christmas itself, some things never get old.

(not necessarily your) Uncle Skip said...

I'm glad I'm not a Jim... NTTIAWWT.

Chris said...

Great message there. We all know folks, I'm sure, who are given a great deal and don't do much with it . . . as well as others who make the most out of what they have, no matter how much or how little. Great holiday story, as always.

Jackie said...

We need more Uncle Jims in our world. I love this story.
Hugs to you, my friend.

OldAFSarge said...

Excellent Suldog! As I only recently discovered your blog (H/T to Buck!) all of your Christmas stories are new to me. And from the looks of it, they'll be worth reading again in years to come. Yup, they're what I call "classics"!

Buck said...

Two! Two! Two sergeants in a row! What the first one said about "worth reading."

(Thanks for the link)

Craig said...

Ah, yes! I loved this story the first time I read it. The good stuff never gets old. . .

Although, if I may quibble. . . the young wiseacre portrayed here was NOT YET your father at the time these events took place. Just 'cuz, you know, I'm just that anal (or should I say, just that kind of an anus. . .) (Mama always told me, anus is as anus does. . .)


Pearl said...

That's a lovely way of looking at things.

That Uncle Jim. :-) What a character.


Michelle H. said...

Love your Christmas stories! Keep 'em coming!

Anonymous said...

This is one of my favorites and well worth re-reading over and over. Thank you!!

Hilary said...

I remember this well. I love that Uncle Jim taught your dad, and all who listed and still listen such an important life lesson. Your Christmas stories are as classic to the blog world as everyone's favourite movies are to the television audience.

messymimi said...

This lesson never grows old.

Sueann said...

I loved this lesson!!!

Karen said...

It's been my pleasure to have read this again. Wonderful lesson.

IT (aka Ivan Toblog) said...

...or onion soup

Babs said...

It was new for me, and I liked it. Brought back my own memory of our coal burning furnace in the basement too. I liked it... Next year it'll be a re-run, but my memory as it'll probably be new all over again. :)

Joanna Jenkins said...

This is a post worth repeating every year. I loved it the first time I read it and I love it again today. Your Uncle Jim was a very smart guy.
Happy Holiday, jj