The Season of Joy and Splendor!

The world needs more mistletoe.

Perhaps I shall tell you a story in which only the facts have been fabricated…… in their entirety.  Whatever truth lies herein is merely geographical and all else including footnotes, if any, should be regarded with skepticism as well as puzzlement and a generous dose of disbelief. (1) You can take my word on that.

Thus we begin…. Among the many features of the community that we call home there is one that does not really distinguish it from any number of other communities that possess this particular feature.  It is, in fact, so common that we call it “The Commons.”   It is the center of our city, where merchants have long struggled to attract foot traffic into their small shops and businesses.  One might stretch one’s imagination and envision in this imaginary world that the city planners have carefully made parking inconvenient, expensive  and now computerized with ticket boxes  invariably placed as far from your desired destination as one might wish.  In this particular Camelot there will also be sleet or pouring rain to accompany you on this journey to overpay.  Fascinating, yes, but this is not  the story I had intended to tell.

In one of my many idle hours, of which there seem to be no shortage,  I found myself on the very same Commons that I have heretofore described.  It was a very cold day in this busy holiday season. The kind of cold that is so penetrating and permeated with dampness  that it will not be denied by even my multiple layers of down, thermafill, gortex, cotton flannel and wool.  It was however a festive day.  The commons is decorated and there are a few avid consumers about with spirits bright and faces cheerfully pointed into the wind and sleet.  I am thinking that for whatever is the reason that I am here, it could be postponed briefly while I find  a warm place for a cup of coffee.  As I weigh the pros and cons of this forever life changing decision , which of course every decision is, I am approaching a uniformed, Salvation Army bell ringer.  He is cheerfully doing good for the world and greets me with warmth and high hopes.  I also am feeling magnanimous and reach into my pocket to discover that the sum of my available liquidity was deposited in the parking meter. In full appreciation of the spirit of the  moment and the good work this gentleman is doing for the needy, and also in full appreciation for my need for a cup of coffee, I gently slip a Fiver ( Yes  $5) out of his container.  Before I could express the full extent of my gratitude, I was affronted by the most incendiary verbiage one might imagine.  Certainly not the language befitting  an officer and a gentleman.  Proud it made me, that I served in the Navy rather than the Salvation Army!  As I discretely edge away he shows  no apparent inhibition in drawing the crowds attention to me and decorates my character with a barrage of comments untypical of the spirit of this particular season.

…………….With my coffee at last, and out of the elements, I review what could have made the scenario go differently.  I must say, his whole attitude, the reaction of the gathering crowd and my introduction to this new vocabulary essentially ruined the coffee for me………..and the donut.  But now warm again, refreshed and remembering a cute (2) little campaign slogan, I thought to myself “When they go low – we go high!”  So I return to the scene and deposit the change from the coffee -and the remainder of my donut- into his bucket.  Well, I’ve got to tell you, it’s really hard to get one of those buckets off your head!  As I always say “Peace on Earth, Good Will to Men!”           The End!

The year politically was very interesting.  Prior to this Susan and I have always tried to live with great respect for the environment. We recycle, compost, drive a Prius, live with no lights on, shower together (3), heat with wool and eat meat only on occasion – any occasion.  So for the year, after multiple cross country and international flights, we have our carbon footprint down to about the size of Manhattan.  Now, with a new administration which doesn’t recognize global warming, evolution or the idea that the world is round; we have taken recycling one step beyond and believe we will start a trend which alone will save the world.  The idea came to Susan probably after a whole lot of wine; but she looked out the window to where we had discarded last years Christmas tree and said “There’s nothing wrong with that tree!” (4) So in it came and decorate it we did! Christmas Crow and all! (Another story for another time.)


It is Charlie Bown’s dream tree.  It is a tree the Grinch will not steal. We Did not have to cut it down. We can easily see through it!  We don’t have to water it. The needles do not drop.  It didn’t cost me sixty bucks!  But…………It may distort my grandson’s vision of Christmas forever.  Sorry Kieran but after all, what is a Grumpa for?   I have started a Grandchildrens’ Therapy Fund.  All donations are welcome. Preferably small, unmarked bills.

Merry Christmas to all!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Foot notes:  1. This may or may not be true.  2. But apparently ineffective.  3.Purely an environmental exercise. 4. Not an exact quote!



  1. jeb.connor

    Hi Jim — Let me simplify! A very Merry Christmas to you and the growing McCutcheon family. Sure glad you are enjoying retirement. Please keep sharing your experiences. They are a great and most enjoyable proxy for what someday I may experience (including the shared shower)!

    All the best,


    P.S. What happened to the Christmas Crow? I expected to see him on your amazing tree. Guess he flew to Bob’s house!

  2. Kelsey

    Most kids don’t remember their first christmas, but i have a feeling this one is going to be seared into Kieran’s brain…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *