Christmas at Grandma Stoopnagle's by Col. Stoopnagle

            There’s a certain something about the yule-tide season that sort of gets under my skin.  But before I go any further, don’t you think that they should show the backs of taxi-drivers’ heads on their license cards instead of the front?  Nobody hardly ever sees them face-to-face.  But after all, if we’re going to talk about the Xmas (Christmas to you) season, let’s get started on it and never mind the taxi-drivers.

            As I look back upon my childhood, the thing that stands out most clearly should be, since this is a story of Christmas, the regular family gathering at good old Grandma Stoopnagle’s.  However, if the truth were known, I should confess that this outstanding memory is of a good licking I got with the back of a hairbrush on the back of a young Stoopnagle for squirting fizz-water down my brother Herman’s pantleg during the soup course.

            We children used to look forward to Christmas dinner at Grandma Stoopnagle’s from December 26th until December 24th the next year, -- that’s how much we looked forward to it.  And what a great kick Grandma used to get out of preparing that meal!  She’d call in the cook and say something like this: “Nasturtium, the children are coming for dinner tomorrow, as usual.  Go out and fetch a whopping turkey and cook it.”  My, what a kick that dear old lady got out of getting up a Christmas dinner.  And then Nasturtium would say: “And what else, Mrs. Stoopnagle?”  and Grandma would say: “Oh, figure it out for yourself.  What the deuce do you think I’m hiring you for?”  And with that, Nasturtium would trip out of the living room, stumble over Beelsby, the butler, and slide into the kitchen on her -- well, on her clean linoleum.

            I won’t say much more about that dinner except to tell you that it was eaten with zest.  In fact, my brother and I used forks and knives.  They couldn’t fool us!  And afterwards wine was served, but of course not to us children.  We snuck out in the pantry and grabbed off a couple of shots of rock and rye on the sly.

            After the repast was over, Grandma would sit down at the zither and strike up a ragtime tune, to the strains of which we would all meander into the living room, where what do you think was there?  A great big dandy evergreen, resplendent in its tinsel and gretsal, flotsam and jetsam.  Grandma herself, we were led to understand, cut down the prestty tree with her own axe.  (Since then we have found out that Grandma was just joking in her quaint way and that the truth of the matter was that Beelsby did it disguised as Grandma.)  Around the base of the tree, neatly tossed in a great pile, were presents for all of us.  Neckties, bits of chocolate fudge, collar-buttons, brazil nuts and all manner of surprise goodies.  After circling the tree in a circle nineteen times, singing I HEAR A THRUSH AT EVE, we all dived into the pile of stuff at a shot from Grandma’s howitzer and the fun was on.

            In case it happens you’re intrigued at all by this simple little story and want a bid to the next Christmas party, you might as well get the idea right out of your mind.  Grandma Stoopnagle died.


[circa 1932]


Page created November 15, 2006.  Copyright 1998-2006 by Richard D. Squires.