2021 · Advent Adventures: 24 Doors of December · Christmas 2021

Advent Adventures: The Door to December 23rd

The Door to December 23rd: Bah! Humbug!

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“TWAS A BOB CRATCHIT KINDA DAY”

‘Twas a Bob Crachit Kinda Day.

Nose hard to the grindstone.

No tuppence in my pocket.

Hand dampened cold,

Chilling my bones down.

Doing the things I must.

O’hers depen’n onnit.

Christmas wages all but spent.

Peace and hope.

Hope and peace.

I’ve seen a courier.

A scene by Currier and Ives.

Salvation Army Bells.

Silver Bells.

For whom the bell tolls.

Clearly, me.

Uh-huh!

The Christmas Spirit.

Visiting as needed. 

Once, twice, thrice,

And done.

But…nothing changes.

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2021 · Advent Adventures: 24 Doors of December · Christmas 2021

Advent Adventures: The Door to December 24th

The Door to December 24th: Christmas Eve

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“28 ST. MARTIN STREET”

My advent calendar project hit a buzzsaw called Christmas Present. Christmas 2018 swallowed me up, and I couldn’t spare the creative space needed to close out my project. I back ended some pretty important memories to the end of the calendar for dramatic effect and because it is emotionally hard to write about these things. It leaves me exhausted, yet grateful for such heavy lifting. Please forgive an ambitious man for a late delivery. Sometimes when you let something marinate and breathe a bit, it becomes better for it. I certainly hope so.

I am blessed to have lived through many treasured moments in my life, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t express how very warm and full of heart I become when I recall these times, our times. Merry times, happy times, unknowing times, taken for granted times. Holding short moments for a fraction of time.

We simply inherited a sense that tradition is and always has been important. It is a gift from those that came before us. It is a gift full of wisdom and righteous remembering, and the action of choosing to be together. Blending family and the precious commodity of time creates magic.

The town where I grew up was small, but seemed large to me as a child. It is full of history, and I could walk to any of my near relatives homes within 3-5 minutes. This reality provided me with a false sense that I would always have this convenience of access throughout my life. It wasn’t until I set out into the world that I experienced how small my world truly was and just how lucky I had been to have had such access and time with my closest relatives growing up. It’s not the kind of thing you become aware of, until it changes.

Life moves, life breathes, nothing stays forever, and that is why upon reflection of the holidays of the past, I warmly remember Christmas Eves spent at 28 St. Martin Street with the special people you see in the photograph above.

Sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas, a Christmas Card/Invitation would come to us from Uncle Mike, Aunt Donna, and Cousin Christy. It would invite us up to their place at 28 St. Martin Street, to celebrate Christmas Eve. Festivities would begin promptly at 6ish. We’d meet, eat, make jolly, and tell stories of the past year. It was a great pre-cursor to Christmas Day celebrations. 

Much of the revelry would take place in the kitchen, as it generally does in Irish-American households. Never entering through the front door, but only through the back door, which you would arrive to after you had to walk down a short walkway abutting the house. 

Generally, those visiting knew to come to the back door. If they didn’t, we knew they were strangers.

Many great Christmas Eve’s were spent in the company of the Hickey’s, the Lane’s, The Connolly’s, The Warner’s, The Blakie’s, The Dowling’s, The Merullo’s, and any and all that I may have neglected to mention. I’m so grateful that we were a part of something so memorable, that has sustained the fire of memory in my heart. The ghosts of Christmas Past are never too far away. 

Although, we’ve lost some of fellow travelers in this life, our family still sustains. We are so lucky to still have opportunities to gather, and we make great use of the examples of living revelry that are evidenced in the photograph above. I look at all of our eyes in that picture, and I see a million different stories and thoughts. I never knew I would be where I am now, but I know for certain that it was a damn wonderful thing to be there then.

Merry Christmas to Uncle Mike, Aunt Donna, and Cousin Christy. Thank you for sharing your home with all of us, and for creating a lasting tradition. Whenever I look at this photo, I know how perfect a moment can be, and how very precious it is to capture it.

Carpe Diem! 

Love to Richie, Irene, Paul, Kathy, and Kevin. 

2021 · Advent Adventures: 24 Doors of December · Christmas 2021

Advent Adventures: The Door to December 22nd

The Door to December 22nd: The Legend Of The Turkey Platter

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The Legend of the Turkey Platter

It is known in these parts, that when my mother left my father in the Summer of 1995, she left with the clothes on her back and this turkey platter. In a sense, I find it brilliant. Basically, 🖕🏻, I’m leaving and I’m only taking this plastic platter with me. Of course this is a gross reduction of that circumstance, but for the purposes of this blog, it serves. It will definitely make it into a story at some point. For all my parent’s troubles, they loved each other and loved us. Life sometimes upstages young love, and causes it to grow apart, and that is okay, because they were both able to find happiness after that part of their lives.

But, I digress…It is also known, that the platter is rumored to be in one place, believed to be in another, and it remains to be determined if the photo you see here is of the actual platter. I may or may not have this platter. It may or may not be the real platter that accompanied my mother on her trek to the South Shore of Boston. My Step-father may or may not have this platter. My Sister may or may not want this platter. I’m awaiting a visitation by three spirits on Christmas Eve; at which point I hope to have the answer to any and all questions regarding my Mother’s cherished service ware. We should have tucked it in her casket, or at the very least, had them carve it into her headstone.

If anyone does or doesn’t have information regarding the whereabouts of this platter, please feel free to send any and all leads to my Sister @ phickeysplatter@gmail.com

And please, only serious leads and information wanted.

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2021 · Advent Adventures: 24 Doors of December · Christmas 2021

Advent Adventures: The Door to December 21st

The Door to December 21st: “The Decemberists”

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“The Decemberists” ©️C.P. Hickey 2018

“THE DECEMBERISTS”

Once upon a December sky,

I made a wish and closed my eyes.

Muted blues and drabbest grays,

Out beyond, beyond.

A lifetime obligation’s breach,

Out beyond horizon’s reach.

I could not go there,

Out beyond, beyond.

Trapped on a rolling road,

World all around exposed.

I could not get there, 

Out beyond, beyond.

Decemberists know it best,

Heart pounding beneath the breast, 

The journey hearkens those who hide,

Out beyond, beyond.

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2021 · Advent Adventures: 24 Doors of December · Christmas 2021

Advent Adventures: The Door to December 20th

The Door to December: Christmas Stocking

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“CHRISTMAS STOCKING”

Christmas Stocking,

Full of loot.

Packed in nicely,

Top to boot.

Trinkets, baubles, 

Micro-gifts.

Canned cashews,

Peppermint twists.

Often times,

The last good chance,

To find that gift,

Asked in advance.

Santa knows,

Just where to put,

That jolly bundle,

Covered in soot.

Clever mysteries,

Unsurpassed. 

Christmas Stocking,

Best for last

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2021 · Advent Adventures: 24 Doors of December · Christmas 2021

Advent Adventures: The Door to December 19th

The Door to December 19th: Guy’s Night

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“GUY’S NIGHT”

“Slainte” ©️C.P. Hickey 2017

“GUY’S NIGHT”

GATHER ROUND YE LADS OF YOUTH AND LIFE.

DRINK FULL OF AN EVERLASTING GLASS.

THE POUR IS GREAT THERE.

TIME TO CONVENE FOR THE YEARLY STOCK TAKING.

COUNTING FELLOWS, AND BLESSINGS, AND SLIGHTS.

LIKE MANY, MANY NIGHTS, THAT DELIVERED US TO THIS BRIEF RESPITE.

OH HOW MUCH COMFORT I FIND IN YOUR AGING FACES.

I CONFIDE A FRIEND KEEPS PACE,

AND REGRETS NOTHING WHILE PEERING AT AN EARLY MORNING MIRROR.

SUCH AN HONOR TO HAVE PASSED TIME WITH YOU ALL.

I REPEAT, AS IT BEARS REPEATING, A DISTINCT HONOR.

FELLOWSHIP, BROTHERHOOD, A LIFETIME.

THERE IS NOT MUCH BETTER.

CAMPFIRES, BALL BUSTING, SHARED SILENCE, PETTY DIFFERENCES; ALL PART AND PARCEL BOYS. 

PART AND PARCEL.

IT’S BEEN A PHENOMENAL RUN, AND UNPRECEDENTED.

NOT MANY ARE LUCKY TO HAVE A BEST FRIEND IN THIS LIFE.

WE EACH, MORE THAN SEVEN.

THE WHOLE IS TRULY GREATER THAN THE SUM OF ITS PARTS.

THE NIGHT BELONGS TO US, IT ALWAYS HAS.

IT WILL CONTINUE, UNTIL WE BELONG TO IT.

SLAINTE! LADS, SLAINTE!

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2021 · Advent Adventures: 24 Doors of December · Christmas 2021

Advent Adventures: The Door to December 18th

The Door to December 18th: Ornamentals

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“TODDLER PROOF TREE”

TODDLER PROOF TREE,

FRAGILE FREE.

ORNAMENTS UP FOR SAFEKEEPING.

PAPER, PLUSH, 

SOFT TO TOUCH,

NO BROKEN GLASS SWEEPING.

ONE MORE YEAR,

OR MAYBE TWO,

BEFORE IT’S SAFE FOR ALL.

NEXT YEAR,

GLASS ORNAMENTS FOR SURE,

WHEN WE DECK THE HALLS.

“Joaquin’s Decorating”

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Advent Adventures: 24 Doors of December

Advent Adventures: The Door to December 17th

The Door to December 17th: Cabbage Patch Kids Growing in the Garden

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Dear Holiday Shoppers,

Be careful what you wish for. The holiday shopping days are disappearing quickly. Let me bring you down my memory lane and recount the time my Mother fought in earnest to make sure that a certain toy was under a certain tree on a certain day.

 

 

Open…

 

 

MOTHER CHRISTMAS VISITS THE CABBAGE PATCH

My Mother was a woman of vernacular. She had ways of saying things and words to say them. Over the course of our lives together, it became apparent that not everyone shared these words and expressions. In conversations with others, I’d often say things that would get puzzled looks, or giggles.

The Boston “dropped R” only enhanced and amplified the effect of conversing with her. You might get something like “Hi! Howahya? You comin ovah tommorah? Jaysus Christ, it’s wicked hawt. Christophah! Christophah! I saw a patient at the hospital last night with a broken leg, bone sticking out. Skeevatsah!”

I grew an appreciation for the cadence and dance of conversing with her over the years. She “nevah” used punctuation, but ended most phrases with a “ya know?” Which was pregnant with reflection, concession, and a hint at sought validation; though mostly rhetorical.

My Mother doted on my sister and I to an extreme. Most especially, at Christmas. We were spoiled. It was her thing. It is one of the lasting memorable characteristics of her personality, along with her speech patterns that I remember fondly.

Well, a story she was particularly fond of retelling, or enjoyed hearing others tell of it, was that of “The Great Cabbage Patch Kid Doll Carnage of 1983”

crazies
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The Cabbage Patch Doll Craze of 1983 was a national phenomena. My sister had it in her lusty child sights. I didn’t care so much about it, except a passing acknowledgement that it was “a thing”, G.I. Joe was more in my wheelhouse. I really don’t recall how it became known to us, but somehow without internet, the message got out. Stores didn’t have them to keep up with the demand. Clandestine shipments, ravaged shelves, my Mother had contacts everywhere, searching high and low for one of these damn dolls. I repeat, this was before internet, yet she managed a network of contacts through landline telephones, a calendar date book, and the yellow and white pages. I’m pretty sure she also enlisted help from the Hood Milkman, Meyer the owner of the Family Shoe Store where we got our bobos (generic shoes mocking name brands), and the entire St. Francis de Sales Parents Guild Association.

As days fell from the calendar, so did my Mother’s hopes of presenting the perfect Christmas morning for my sister.

She was wicked desperate.

I don’t know how, but one of the many leads she had, developed into her taking a bus to Manhattan with my father sometime in December before Christmas 1983. It was a precision operation that involved getting to the correct store, waiting in line, and having the right money for the purchase.

When I think of my father being dragged from his weekend slumber to traipse down to Manhattan on the chance of a hope and a prayer that they might get a doll for my sister, I heartily laugh. I don’t think he was a believer. Ma was, though. My sister’s Christmas joy depended on it.

His only consolation was perhaps a few hurried stops at a bunch of New York Street Hot Dog vendors, so he could stuff a Sabrett’s Hot Dog in his restless maw. Not my mother, she was not to be distracted from her mission.

The Blues Brothers were told by God that they had a mission to complete. Conversely, my Mother told God, she had a mission to complete.

So after the long bus trip, the long city blocks, the foot long hot dogs smothered in relish, they finally arrived at the correct place at the correct time. The line was long, but not impossibly long. Somehow, others knew about the shipment, much to my Mother’s chagrin. They padded along. advancing another few steps. At the pace of one complaint and anxiety at a time. My Mother spent her time in the line giving the gooch and stink face to anyone coming back down the line with a sizable box like brown paper bag in their mitts. Each person coming down the line displayed a satisfaction that my Mother hadn’t tasted as yet, and she grew antsy.

Down the line. People in. Bags out.

Blood pressure rising.

After what must have seemed an eternity to my parents, they finally crossed the threshold and made their way to the counters.

Behind the counters were little brown men screaming and yelling at a fevered pitch. New York was and is the melting pot of America, so it stood to reason that my parents would meet up with some people they were unfamiliar with, having spent most of their lives in an insular community.

So the moment of truth occurs:

Sales clerk: So whatchoo, want, lady?

Ma: How much ah, fah the Cabbage Patch Dolls?

Sales clerk: one hundred dolla.

My Mother turns to my Father, “did he say $100 dollars?”

My father nodded. She didn’t intend on paying $100 dollars for a doll she thought was could be bought for less. Although, desperate times called for desperate measures.

She turned back to the sales clerk and said:

Fah each? Awhr fah two?

The clerk looked stunned, then started talking to his associate. My mother, thought she was not heard. Both sales clerks looked bothered and started gesticulating at my mother. Again, she said:

Fah each? Awhr fah two?

Well that just about did it. The sales clerks said:

Get out, of our store, filthy lady! How dare you talk to us like that!

My father getting a hold of what was going on realized what my mother had said, and put together that they thought she was offering “favors” for the dolls.

Dad: They thought you said you would eat them for two dolls, Kath.

After a good laugh, and some explanations, my Mother reluctantly paid the $100 dollars for the doll.

cabbage-patch-craze
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So 1983 was one of the best Christmases ever for our family. My sister got her doll. My Mother got to see the expression of joy that came of my sister receiving the doll. We all got a story to tell, and two Indian/Pakistani gentleman in Manhattan who had a harder time understanding my Mother’s Boston accent than she had in understanding them, were canonized saints for not having thrown my Mother out of their store before she had the chance to drop her r’s, and some cabbage on some Cabbage Patch Kids.

cabbage
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In my Mother’s version of the story, she believed that the gentleman got it wrong, but if you knew my Mother, you would have heard what they heard, as she had a phenomenal Boston accent. It was wicked pissah! Ya’ know…

 

Cabbage Patch Kiss Ma

 

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Advent Adventures: 24 Doors of December

Advent Adventures: The Door to December 16th

The Door to December 16th: “Christmas Memories, Christmas Reveries”

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Dear Door Openers,

Please enjoy a poem I put together for the season.

CPH

 

 

 

 

Open…

 

 

 

 

“Christmas Memories, Christmas Reveries”

 

Kringle capers,

Crinkling papers,

Clanging choir bells.

 

Busy streets,

Hanging wreaths,

Roasted chestnut shells.

 

Jingle bells,

Red pastels,

Frosted windowpanes.

 

Fire’s glow.

Hot cocoa,

Pulling reindeer reins.

 

Christmas memories,

Christmas reveries.

Standing under, mistletoe.

 

Christmas Evening,

Christmas Morning,

Santa always seemed to know.

 

Season’s greetings,

Family meetings,

Sucking candy canes.

 

Midnight mass,

Manger grass,

Joining reindeer games.

 

Christmas Past,

Christmas Present,

Christmas Yet To Come.

 

Christmas memories,

Christmas reveries,

Thank God, that I have some.

 

 

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