A Little Christmas Story…

Christmas with Louise, an unusual holiday dinner guest

 This is an article submitted to a 1999 Louisville Sentinel contest, to find out who had the wildest Christmas dinners.  This won first prize, and I have been reading it every year since and laughing out loud again, imagining this eccentric family that would probably have gotten along splendidly with my own.
CHRISTMAS WITH LOUISE
As a joke, my brother used to hang a pair of pantyhose over his fireplace before Christmas.  He said all he wanted was for Santa to fill them.  What the song says about Santa checking the list twice must be true because every Christmas morning, although Jay’s kids’ stockings overflowed with presents, his poor pantyhose hung sadly empty.
 
One year I decided to make his dream come true.  I put on sunglasses and went in search of an inflatable love doll.  They don’t sell those things at Walmart.  I had to go to an adult bookstore downtown.
 
If you’ve never been in an X-rated store, don’t go.  You’ll only confuse yourself.  I was there an  hour saying things like, “What does this do?  You’re kidding me!  Who would buy that?”   Finally, I made it to the inflatable doll section. I wanted to buy a  standard, uncomplicated doll that could also substitute as a passenger in my truck so I could use the car pool lane during rush hour.
 
Finding what I  wanted was difficult.  Love Dolls come in many different models.  The top of the line, according to the side of the box, could do things I’d only seen in a book on animal husbandry.  I settled for Lovable Louise.She was at the bottom of the price scale.  To call Louise a doll took a huge leap of imagination.
 
On Christmas Eve and with the help of an old  bicycle pump, Louise came to life.
My sister-in-law was in on the plan and let me in during the wee morning hours. Long after Santa had come and  gone, I filled the dangling panty hose with Louise’s pliant legs and  bottom.  I also ate some cookies and drank what remained of a glass of  milk on a nearby tray.  I went home, and giggled for a couple of  hours.
 
The next morning my brother called to say that Santa had been to his house and left a present that had made him VERY happy but had left the dog confused.  She would bark, start to walk away, then come back and bark some more.
 
We all agreed that Louise should remain in her panty hose so  the rest of the family could admire her when they came over for the  traditional Christmas dinner.
My grandmother noticed Louise the moment  she walked in the door. “What the hell is that?” she asked.
Granny 2
 
My brother quickly explained, “It’s a doll.”
 
“Who would play with something like that?” Granny snapped.
 
I had several candidates in mind, but kept my mouth shut.
 
“Where are her clothes?” Granny  continued.
 
“Boy, that turkey sure smells nice Gran” Jay said, to steer her into the dining room.
 
But Granny was relentless.  “Why doesn’t she have any teeth?”
My grandfather, a delightful old man with poor eyesight, sidled up to me and said, “Hey, who’s  the naked gal by the fireplace?”
 
I told him she was Jay’s friend.
 
A few minutes later I noticed Grandpa by the mantel, talking to Louise. Not just talking, but actually flirting.  It was then that we realized this might be Grandpa’s last Christmas at home.
 
The dinner went well.  We made the usual small talk about who had died, who was dying, and who should be killed, when suddenly Louise made a noise like my father in the bathroom every morning.  Then she lurched from the pantyhose, flew around the room twice, and fell in a heap in front of the sofa.
The cat screamed.  I passed cranberry sauce through my nose and Grandpa ran across the room, fell to his knees, and began administering  mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.  My brother fell back over his chair and wet his pants.
 
Granny threw down her napkin, stomped out of the room,  and sat in the car.
griswold Christmas dinner
 
It was indeed a Christmas to treasure and remember.
 
Later in my brother’s garage, we conducted a thorough  examination to decide the cause of Louise’s collapse.  We discovered that Louise had suffered from a hot ember to the back of her right thigh.
Fortunately, thanks to a wonder drug called duct tape (Hello), we restored her to perfect health!

About John

John Bolinger was born and raised in Northwest Indiana, where he attended Ball State University and Purdue University, receiving his BA and MA from those schools. Then he taught English and French for thirty-five years at Morton High School in Hammond, Indiana before moving to Colorado. He spends his winters in Pompano Beach, Florida. Besides COME SEPTEMBER, Journey of a High School Teacher, John's other books are ALL MY LAZY RIVERS, an Indiana Childhood, and COME ON, FLUFFY, THIS AIN'T NO BALLET, a Novel on Coming of Age, all available on Amazon.com as paperbacks and Kindle books. Alternately funny and touching, COME SEPTEMBER, conveys the story of every high school teacher’s struggle to enlighten both himself and his pupils, encountering along the way, battles with colleagues, administrators, and parents through a parade of characters that include a freshman boy for whom the faculty code name is “Spawn of Satan,” to a senior girl whose water breaks during a pop-quiz over THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS. Through social change and the relentless march of technology, the human element remains constant in the book’s personal, entertaining, and sympathetic portraits of faculty, students, parents, and others. The audience for this book will certainly include school teachers everywhere, teenagers, parents of teens, as well as anyone who appreciates that blend of humor and pathos with which the world of public education is drenched. The drive of the story is the narrator's struggle to become the best teacher he can be. The book is filled with advice for young teachers based upon experience of the writer, advice that will never be found in college methods classes. Another of John's recent books is Mum's the Word: Secrets of a Family. It is the story of his alcoholic father and the family's efforts to deal with or hide the fact. Though a serious treatment of the horrors of alcoholism, the book also entertains in its descriptions of the father during his best times and the humor of the family's attempts to create a façade for the outside world. All John's books are available as paperbacks and Kindle readers on Amazon, and also as paperbacks at Barnes & Noble. John's sixth and most recent book, Growing Old in America: Notes from a Codger was released on June 15, 2014.
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