In today's wanderings from shop to shop I met Major Ezra Pills of Cloverdale’s Salvation Army on the side walk near Wonderland Bakery. He was collecting for the Army's Christmas Fund. We spoke for several minutes about the village's poor and needy. I was surprised to learn that Cloverdale had a small population needing assistance. I suppose one doesn't always see what one doesn't look for. A good lesson for us all to learn.
The Confederacy’s Salvation Army ministers to the people in our neighborhoods through their local Citadels (congregations). Each citadel is commanded by an Officer. Cloverdale's newly appointed commanding officer is Major Pills. He leads God's soldiers in a war against poverty, disease and ignorance. His troops work in our neighborhoods feeding the hungry, clothing the needed and providing shelter to the homeless. The Salvation Army hopes to bring the love of Christ into the hearts of all who will listen. They begin with putting food in your stomach and clothes on your back. Once your daily needs are met then spiritual ones can be addressed. They need your help to do this, especially during the holiday season.
Major Ezra Pills spent today on the High Street asking people to drop a few coins into his red plastic collection can. Normally the Citidel's band joins in the effort by playing Christmas carols. Unfortunately, Cloverdale’s Citadel is too small to have a proper band, so the Major sang as he walked the sidewalk going from shop to shop asking everyone he met to give to God’s less fortunate children. A copy of the Army's newspaper 'The War Cry' was given to everyone who donated, along with an invitation to come to the Citadel for Sunday services.
"A nice cup of tea and biscuits follows every service," the Major added with each invitation.
The Major and I spoke of the true meaning of Christmas and the good work the Salvation Army does in the community. The Major was respectful of my Mormon religion, even praising the good work Mormons do around the world. In fact, the Salvation Army and the LDS Church are usually the first organizations to bring relief to stricken areas.
Every few minutes during our conversation the Major jingled his red can. He was reminding me of something I should have been doing. He was on the street raising money for the poor and I was occupying his time. We were having a good conversation about religion and I didn't want to walk away until I learned more about the Salvation Army. After several jingles and a few polite points to the top of the can I soon understood the meaning behind the Major's gestures. He was happy to give me his time as long as I generously dropped money into the can every time he jingled it. So in the end, I donated my way through an interesting and informative conversation.
I urge everyone to give to the Salvation Army this holiday season. Be kind and drop a few bills into their red kettles and thank them for their good work in the community. Give someone less fortunate than you a Very Merry Christmas.
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Santa Disrupts Donaldson's Department Store's North Pole Village Display. Parents Horrified. Children Receive Counseling
Yesterday Donaldson’s Department Store in Cloverdale issued an apology to the community for the shocking behavior of the store’s Santa Claus.
At 10:00 A.M. on December 1st Donaldson’s Department Store’s North Pole Village was scheduled to open to much fan fare and celebration. The Comprehensive School’s Choir was on hand to sing favorite Christmas carols. Confederacy Elementary School’s Sing a Thon winner from last year was there to perform an assortment of songs specially chosen by Donaldson’s marketing manager to encourage shoppers to spend copious amounts of money. Artificial snow was ready to fall from the ceiling. Arctic Pink flamingos lined the walkway to Santa’s North Pole Bungalow in the Toy Department (the store couldn’t find plastic reindeer so the pink flamingos were pulled from storage and given collars of tinsel).
At 10:15 A.M. the Lord Mayor was scheduled to step forward to cut the ribbon. At the very moment the ribbon was cut, Santa’s house was suppose to open by magic, revealing Santa in all his glory, sitting on a modified Lazeboy Recliner, watching ice hockey on his 45 inch HDTV (of course, all items on display in Santa’s house are on sale throughout the store), and shouting "Ho Ho Ho Merry Christmas".
That is, if everything went according to schedule.
The sun rose on a very cold December 1st in Cloverdale. Parents and children braved the weather to gather at Donaldson's Department Store for the official start of the shopping season and to see Santa. At 10: 18 A.M. the mayor was handed a pair of enormous scissors. He tapped on the mic, cleared his voice, and spoke - using his “I’m more important than all of you” voice. The mayor retold the classic story ‘Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus’. At the end of the story, he wiped a politically correct tear from his eye, cleared his throat once again and said, "Yes Children, there is a Santa Claus and he is right here in Cloverdale wanting to talk to you!"
He cut the ribbon while the Comprehensive School Choir sang “All We Want for Christmas Is Our Two Front Teeth”. One of the boy sopranos on the front row (a late bloomer) held up a sign that announced the song was sponsored by the Drill and Fill Dentistry on the High Street. At the end of the song the choir shouted "Merry Christmas" and the house slowly parted revealing the jolly celebrity inside.
Gasps filled the toy department. Saint Nick lay sprawled out before them in his holiday recliner cuddling a bottle of peppermint schnapps. He was out cold and drunker than a skunk. Mothers covered their toddler’s eyes. One little boy called out, “I want some of that!” Another child commented on the similarities between Santa and her dad after a long day at the office. Several teenagers in the choir, along with their friends in the audience waiting to go 'hang out', started laughing loudly. Flash bulbs lit up the department as cameras recorded the horrific event for future lawsuits.
The manager ordered the house shut. He rushed to the mic and apologized for Santa’s inappropriate behavior. He told the children that Santa was suffering from swine flu and was very tired because of his medicine. He ordered extra fruit cake and hot chocolate for the upset crowd. One very angry little girl with a hand full of 3x5 cards detailing her Christmas gift wishes, hurled her piece of fruit cake at the North Pole house. The cake penetrated the false plastic wrapped windows. Other children joined in, some throwing their cake at Santa's house while others targeted the store's manager. The manager took refuge in the house. The police were called to restore order. The manager, along with a very tipsy Santa, was escorted safely off the premises.
Donaldson’s fired Santa Claus. He has taken up a new residence near the shopping cart return in Piggly Wiggly's parking lot - never far from his bottle of holiday cheer.
Poor Santa. Poor, Poor Santa.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Miller Pravit won last year's Christmas Sing A Thon. His winning was attributed to his love for old people, his desire to win the first place prize and his consuming of gallons of Red Bull. He was so wired from the caffeine that he continued to sing at the top of his lungs long after returning home. He missed the next three days of school suffering caffeine withdrawal.
Confederacy Elementary School's annual Christmas Sing A Thon will be held at 9:00 A.M. December 16th at the Nearly There Home for the Elderly and Infirmed.
Students will start singing after the elderly have been seated. Seating the elderly can take up to one hour so family and visitors should take that into account when deciding when to attend. Participating students will sing non stop until the last student quits, faints or becomes to hoarse to be heard over the piano accompaniment. Students will be allowed one bathroom and drink break per hour. Eating must be done while singing (difficult to do but possible if quick bites are taken between verses). The school nurse will be on duty to monitor the students. She will act quickly if she sees a student wavering, singing something different from the others, or singin markedly off tune. Other things she will look for include:
- Children facing the wrong direction.
- Children holding themselves (an indication that leakage has or soon will occur).
- Children sleeping while still standing and singing.
- Children moving their mouths but making no sound.
- Crying. Not a good thing for a Christmas Sing A Thon.
Children will be removed from the Sing A Thon for the following reasons:
- Making faces at the elderly.
- Excessive spiting (some spiting is allowed. Singing, by nature, produces spit. And that spit can be ejected from the mouth during loud singing).
- Excessive picking of the nose.
- The wetting of oneself.
- The replacing of a Christmas Carol's traditional words with modern coarse and crude lyrics.
Stimulated beverages are banned. Last year's students drank Red Bull by the gallons in an effort to stay alert and awake during the long evening hours. Many students suffered horrific caffeine withdrawal for several days following the performance.
All participating students must attend an Elderly Awareness Class before the Nearly There Home for the Elderly and Infirmed will permit them to sing on their premises. The one hour film will teach the children about getting old and the effects of aging on the human body. Students will learn how to control their fear of the elderly. Special emphasis will put on mastering facial expressions. The elderly react negatively to the looks of horror and disgust children give old folks when their dentures slip or their bad eyes rotate in their sockets.
In the discussion following the film, students will learn how to ignore unpleasant ordors by scenting their right index finger with cologne when getting off the bus. The index finger can then be brought up to the nose to mask eldersmell upon entering the Home. Students will be taught to desensitize themselves to the smells of a rest home by moving their scented finger away from their nose for gradually increasing amounts of time.
Confederacy's students will be canvassing Cloverdale's neighborhoods over the next several days seeking your pledge for the Sing A Thon. The school suggests you pledge a certain amount of money per carol sung. The event will be video taped in the unlikely event someone challenges the outcome and questions the amount of their pledge payment.
The money from the Christmas Sing A Thon will be used for ElderOutings to the Fun Park at Tamworth on Tide. The Home's residents enjoy their outings to the sea side, the carnival rides, and of course Cotton Candy. A perfect snack for those with teeth and those without.
Confederacy Elementary urges everyone in Cloverdale to support the Christmas Sing A Thon and pledge well.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Welcome to December in Cloverdale! Its the holiday season and that means families from one end of the shire to the other will be gathering for parties and reunions. The McDoogles will gather for their Christmas party in a few weeks. They’ve reserved the Saved By Grace Lutheran Church’s coffee hall for the event. They find it best to have the party in a church. The surroundings help calm the waters if cousin offends cousin or Uncle and Aunt come to the realization, over a class of egg nog and a helping of grandma's almost famous pumpkin pie, that their marriage was a mistake from the day they both said "I do".
Last year the McDoogles made a family rule that concealed weapons would be banned at all future gatherings after Great Grandpa tripped over 2 year old Malcom and shot himself in the foot. Great Grandpa McDoogle started began having problems with his balance shortly after loosing control of his bladder. Adult diapers helped with the leakage but Great Grandpa refused to use a walking frame to help with his balance.
“Damn thing makes me look old,” he said to his daughter. “The day I can’t walk is the day you better just take me round back and put a bullet in me.”
Of course, 95 year old Great Grandpa doesn’t seem to realize the fact that his face, hands and hairline are a sure give away that the man looks to be just shy of 120. Not to mention the fact that every piece of clothing he owns he bought from the 1935 Sears Roebuck Catalog. Oh, let’s not forget the fact that his dentures slip regularly when he gets into one of his argumentative moods. Once he and Great Grandma got into an argument over the best hospital in the Shire. Both consider themselves hospital connoisseurs - considering the fact that they both spent much of their 80’s in and out of several of them. Grandma insisted the All Saints Catholic Hospital in Tamworth on Tide is best hands down. Grandpa cried foul.
“The worse colonoscopy I ever had in my life was at All Saints,” Grandpa shouted across the table during last Saturday’s All You Can Eat Oatmeal and Scrambled Eggs at the Salvation Army's Monthly Salvation for Seniors Prayer Meeting . Grandma countered by claiming her surgery for women’s complaints at the government hospital in Fernwood on the Moor was frightening.
“It was like stepping back in time . I expect the doctor’s to pull out leeches and attempt to bleed me before putting me under the knife,” she said.
Great Grandpa attempted to spit across the table and into her oatmeal with blueberries (he’s been doing a lot of that lately. That, and having trouble getting to the toilet in time). Of course, the force needed to land a loogie squarely on the top of a nicely melting cube of butter was more than Great Grandpa’s dentures could handle. They flew out of his mouth and right onto the floor. Major Lydia Hawksworth stepped on them as she walked by banging on her tambourine and singing "Onward Christian Soldiers". It was an ugly scene best left forgotten.
Anyway, back to Great Grandpa tripping over two year old Malcom. Grandpa didn’t see the little tyke sprawled out on the carpet sucking at a large red punch stain made when Aunt Linda spilled her drink as she swaggered back to her seat. It was her fifth serving of a very spiked punch. Yes, the spiked punch - a contribution from one of the McDoogle teenagers hoping to have a laugh at every else's expense.
Great Grandpa, having had two cups of the punch himself, stumbled over Malcolm. The young lad was typsy himself from what he licked out of the carpet and didn't seem to notice the fact that his Great Grandpa had stepped on his hand. Great Grandma, on the other hand, saw what happened and screamed at Gandpa to be careful. The shock of it all caused Great Grandpa to loose his footing. He reached out to take hold of a hand or arm to break his fall but most family members knew to stay away from him. Grandpa had a tendency to loose control of his bowels in stressful situations.
Great Grandpa fell to the floor. The impact caused his concealed handgun to misfire. The bullet hit him squarely in the foot. Everyone at the Christmas Party dove for cover. The sound of the blast was heard throughout the building. The Saved By Grace Women’s Guild was in the room four doors down. The blast caused Miss Trelba Toosh to empty the contents of her coffee cup onto the beautiful quilt they were finishing for the Pastor's Christmas.
An ambulance was called. It arrived within minutes. The paramedics treated the gun shot wound on site then loaded Great Grandpa into the ambulance to take him to hospital.
Just as the ambulance prepared to drive away, Great Grandpa waved it down. She hobbled to the driver’s window and motioned for him to roll it down.
“Listen, I want him taken to All Saints Hospital,” she said to the driver. “He so loves the excellent care the nuns give.”
The driver nodded at her request and sped away. Great Grandma looked so pleased with herself.
Mrs. French of 12 Shurberry Circle and Mrs. Saunders of 14 Blueberry Marsh live in Cloverdale. They take a train outing every month. This month they visited a museum of modern art.
Monday, November 30, 2009
Clive Noodle woke up at 5:00 A.M. this morning. He sat up, reached for his glasses and surveyed his bedroom. All was in place, just as he left it when he went to sleep. He reached for his notepad and pencil and reviewed the list he’d made the night before. At the top of his ‘to do’ list was the unpacking of his holiday sweaters. He smiled as a rush of Christmas cheer swept over him.
“Christmas sweater time,” he said as he swung his legs over the side of the bed. His red holiday slippers sat right below his feet, positioned exactly where his feet landed every morning when he got out of bed. He slipped them on, stood, and walked into the large closet. Everything was organized alphabetically and by season. At the back of the small room were several boxes marked Christmas. Each box was subcategorized by color. The red box sat at the top.
Clive opened the box. A calendar sat on top of four red Christmas sweaters. The calendar was subdivided into weeks and days. Clive marked each day with a different color indicating which box to open for that day. He pulled out the top sweater, laid it out on the bed and proceeded with his other morning rituals as he prepared himself for his day as a public accountant for a nearly prominent Cloverdale business.
Friends, today we highlight Clive Noodle, another citizen of our village of the bewildered. Clive keeps the spirit of Christmas alive by wearing his collection of Christmas sweaters. Be sure to tell him how swell he looks in his festive apparel . It will mean so much to Clive, considering he isn’t married and doesn’t get out much.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Dave and Melissa Daymont of Thornberry Apartments in Cloverdale formally exchanged Christmas gifts today. This was done after church as per tradition. A kiss followed the exchange. Afterwards the couple stood, walked around the coffee table to the newly decorated Christmas Tree and placed the gifts beside the plastic manger scene Melissa was given on her tenth birthday. Another kiss followed.
“Are we ready to move on?” Dave asked. Melissa nodded. It was time for Melissa’s favorite part of the ritual. Dave reached over to his computer and double clicked on iTunes, bringing up his favorite Christmas songs. He scrolled down, passing the Alvin and the Chipmunks Christmas Hits, passing the Lawrence Welk Christmas Wonderland Album, and stopped at his favorite - An Album of Christmas Carols for a Romantic Interlude. He clicked on ‘play’.
The sound of a full orchestra poured from the laptop's small, but impressive, speakers. Dave took Melissa by the hand. They both looked at their tree with its silver balls, artificial branches with green plastic pine needles, and popcorn strung the night before on long strands of string. All strung while they watched Melissa’s old VHS recordings of The Hallmark Channel’s Christmas Specials from the 80’s and 90’s. Melissa’s popcorn stings were more colorful than Dave’s. They had a cranberry between every 20 popcorn kernels. Dave pricked his finger with the needle on his first attempt at stringing a cranberry. It upset him, so he gave up on the berries and stuck with the popcorn.
Melissa cuddled up against Dave. They both filled their lungs and sang to the orchestra’s accompaniment of “Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree....” The spirit of Christmas was so strong in their apartment they neglected to monitor their sound levels. Moments after they started the second verse, the upstairs neighbor stomped on the floor telling them to quiet down. They both looked at each other. Dave winked. Melissa giggled.
Dave departed with tradition by singing the third verse in Norwegian He went to Norway on an LDS mission and felt it an appropriate time to use the nearly forgotten language. He forgot some of the words but that didn’t stop him. He made up new ones as he went along - knowing Melissa wouldn’t know the difference.
“Oh Honey...,” Melissa said at the end of the carol. “Your Norwegian really gave me goosebumps. Are we ready for some Christmas Cheer?” Dave winked at the suggestion. Melissa giggled.
They walked arm in arm to the kitchen. Half of last Christmas’s fruit cake sat on the table. It came straight from the freezer and thawed while the couple attended Sacrament Meeting. Their Christmas mugs sat next to the fruit cake. Washed and cleaned from sitting 12 months in the cupboard above the dishwasher. Melissa opened the Meadow Lands Egg Nog and poured. Her glass was nearly filled first, then Dave's.
“Oh.... not to much for me. You know it makes me tipsy,” Dave said with a wink. Melissa giggled.
“Are we ready for the hard stuff?” Melissa said while walking to the fridge.
“Bring it on baby,” Dave shouted. More stomping from the upstairs neighbor followed. Dave shot a wink at Melissa. Yes, you got it right.......... she giggled.
Melissa returned with a 2 liter bottle of Sprite. She topped both mugs with the bubbly. She mixed the egg nog with the Sprite using a Christmas spoon with Santa Head. They took their mugs in hand and returned to the tree.
“A toast,” Dave suggested.
“Yes, our Christmas Toast,” Melissa replied. Dave cleared his throat. He thought for a moment. He wanted to say something profound but his mind suddenly went blank.
“Its loosing its fizz,” Melissa whispered, hoping to spur her husband on.
“Ahhhh. Emmmmmm. OK, here we go,” Dave said. He cleared his throat once again before continuing. “Scrooge once said, ‘I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.’ As head of this family I wanted to add my Amen to that.”
“Amen,” Melissa chimed in as she raised her mug to consume the longed for treat.
“Oh, not yet,” Dave stopped her just as the mug's rim reached her lips. “I have one more thing to add.” Dave cleared his throat once again, then spoke, “And God Bless us Every One.”
Melissa giggled and Dave winked. Arm in arm they raised their mugs overhead to salute the twinkling star atop their tree. Snow fell gently outside and the sound of passing carolers filled the apartment with the spirit of Christmas as they sipped their egg nog and enjoyed their time together.
The Daymonts of Thornberry Apartments in Cloverdale wish all of you a very merry Christmas.