If you're able to read this column, then the world didn't end. Whether were going over the fiscal cliff or not was still undetermined on Thursday last. This reminds me of the all time stupidest movie scene where two trainee pilots play chicken over an active runway in the movie Pearl Harbor. It was a terrible movie and the upcoming "Fiscal Cliff 'The Movie'" will be have many scenes of playing Chicken with our economy and be equally as bad as real life.
Hope you had a nice Christmas or Hanukah or Kwanza. There are no bad Christmases, maybe? One might argue that any Christmas spent away from home at a young age qualifies. I was 19-years old, half way around the world, our CO thought it would be a good idea to allow us to call home on Christmas eve. The time zone thing made it tricky but with a little planning I was able to speak to my Mother and siblings on Christmas Eve. Dad was working.
This turned out to be the absolute worst idea ever conceived. Those happy disembodied voices were excited to hear from me and to tell me how well they'd prepared for Christmas. It was a good thing the First Sergeant had enough sense to collect all the live ammo. The next year I was home but home wasn't the same. I played 'Blue Christmas' until I wore the record out. Great therapy.
These days 'Blue Christmas' is largely dismissed as being lame compared to two songs that truly describe the dysfunction of a dysfunctional Christmas. 'Merry Christmas from the Famoley' is the best in my opinion but 'Grandma got run over by a Reindeer' is pretty good too! They both describe drunken family Christmas parties but 'Reindeer' is a funny song where 'Famoley' is somewhat depressing.
Robert Earl Keene wrote "Merry Christmas from the Family" in 1994 and it has been a smash hit amongst his fans since. He has restricted playtime between early fall and the holiday but whenever he plays it everyone in the audience sings the words at the top of their lungs. "Especially, 'Mixing Bloody Marys 'cause WE ALL WANT ONE!'" I truly believe it should be mandatory that Armed Forces Radio only repeat 'this' song during the holidays. Maybe our local, stupid 'Christmas Stations' too.
Here are a few lyrics that might convince you to go to YouTube where you can watch the video. (www.youtube.com/watch?v=p053GxJX5y8) "Mom got Drunk and Dad got Drunk at our Christmas Party. We were drinking Champagne Punch and homemade Eggnog. Little sister brought her new boyfriend, he was a Mexican. We didn't know what to make of him until he sang Feliz Navidad, Feliz Navidad." A great West Texas Christmas song.
"Brother Ken brought his kids with him. The three from his first wife, Lynn, and his identical twins from his second wife, Mary Nell. Of course he brought his new wife, Kay, who talks all about AA, chain smoking while the stereo plays Noel, Noel, the First Noel." We may all want to remember the Christmases of our youths especially when in an Afghan 'forward fire base' but if this song was the only one they could get on the radio, re-enlistments would skyrocket. See the video.
Robert Earl Keene grew up in Houston so he never saw snow or a Chestnut and most traditional songs didn't relate. That's why these lines are so telling. "Carve the Turkey, turn the ball game on, mix margaritas when the eggnog's gone. Send somebody to the Quickpak store. We need some ice and an extension chord, a can of bean dip and some diet rites, a box of tampons, Marlboro Lights. We need some celery and a can of fake snow, Haleluja, everybody say Cheese, Merry Christmas from the Famoley!" No it's not funny but it's more real than, "Dashing through the snow, In a one-horse open sleigh, O'er the fields we go, Laughing all the way....."
'Grandma got run over by a Reindeer' is a very humorous song filled with similarly dysfunctional people but with a happy message. Despite Grandma's unceremonious demise, there is a joyful message, Santa is real! "Grandma got ran over by a reindeer, Walking home from our house Christmas eve. You can say there's no such thing as Santa But as for me and Grandpa, we believe. She'd been drinkin' too much eggnog and we'd begged her not to go but she'd forgot her medication so she staggered out into the snow. When they found her Christmas mornin' at the scene of the attack, she had hoof prints on her forehead and Claus marks on her back!"
No, my family doesn't resemble anyone in either songs. We grew up singing the 'Twelve Days of Christmas' and laughing our heads off when we all made mistakes. We do it over Skype these days. I've tried to change the tradition to one of my new favorites but no go so far. These two songs would have been a comfort to me and the millions of service men who were and still are away from their families during the holidays. Robert Earl Keene wrote a sequel to 'Famoley' titled "Happy Holidays Y'all" but it doesn't hold a candle to "Merry Christmas from the Family." (www.youtube.com/watch?v=vMsVJKqHnqw). Go to www.fortmyersbeachtalk.com/ to see this column in digital format.
Happy New Year and be happy because we all get a start over. Don't drink and drive. There will be roadblocks! Take the free shuttles, free tow offers and make sure you tip the heck out of the providers.
Boatguy Ed is a manufacturer of the worlds finest anti-fouling bottom paint, www.supershipbottom.com. A past Commander of the "Dead End Canal Yacht Club" and the former television producer of the Boating Show on TV, the Dining Out SWFL show and Boater's Treasures TV show. Never, ever try to buy him a drink!