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North Pole-tergeists from Christmas Passed

A highlight of the Christmas season every year is gathering my big family together under one roof — my children, my parents, five siblings and their spouses, and twelve (thirteen by year’s end!) nieces and nephews. Everyone is married now, save me and the kids, but I can recall many holidays when new boy- or girlfriends were part of the celebration.

Tales of our past houseguests poke edgewise into at least one family conversation every year. Each of these dear departed-from-us souls has left behind fond memories, and I imagine that we’ve provided them with a few stories as well. Like how my sisters and I share a secret language of syllables and partial thoughts that no one can follow, not even our mother. Or how all three of my brothers-in-law swill too much grog every year and end up running naked through whatever neighborhood we’re in, losing wallets and shoes and sustaining minor injuries in the imponderable annual ritual.

It’s no wonder that the poor dears rarely returned the following year. It isn’t that we didn’t want to bring them into the fold; we did, and we tried. “Once when Joey was in first grade and I was in fifth, she went to a different school than the rest of us because we’d just moved back here from Topeka and there wasn’t room at DR so I walked her to school and one of our friends, whose parents were Irish. . .” But with stories flying and a lifetime of shared experiences providing the framework, the new loves found themselves smack in the middle of what must’ve seemed to be a verbal maelstrom.

Occasionally my younger brother Andy would attempt interaction through the use of punnery. I know this was a friendly overture to our visitors because the entire family, so far as I can tell, despises puns, mostly because of him. When I was in high school, 11-year-old Andy — redheaded, bespectacled, buck-toothed Andy — would hang about ten feet away from my friends and interject punny witticisms whenever he could. My friends laughed (laughed!) at his horrid intrusions which would incense me. “Mom! Andy is bugging us! He’s telling stupid jokes again!” My mom would admonish him, much too kindly to satisfy me, “Andy, sweetie, leave the big girls alone, and stop making puns. People hate puns.”

Punnitry, for those who’ve been spared the exposure, is largely the trick of compacting two or more ideas within a single word or expression. It’s wordplay at its most punitive. To wit: Punnery is a rewording experience, especially around Christmas time. That’s when people exchange hellos and good buys with each other, the time of year when every girl wants her past forgotten and her presents remembered, the time of year when mothers have to separate the men from the toys.

Yes, that kind of punnishment.

Studies have shown a correlation between punderstanding and sound intellect, so the dumb jokes aren’t really so dumb. Puns are found in many of Shakespeare’s plays and in the Bible, more proof that they appeal to the lofty among us. Still, I loathe puns, which must be evidence that I’m not particularly clever, or so the punnits would have me believe.

We won’t have any Christmas visitors this year so there will surely be a shortage of dumb jokes around the table. To take the heat off poor punmeister Andy (who, by the way, outgrew his youthful awkwardness and is not annoying in the slightest), I’m going to surprise my family with a few holiday puns of my own. I won’t trouble you with the three pages I’ve amassed so far but, trust me, much pun will be had this year. Enough to satisfy everyone for years and years to come, I can only hope.

So, Meretricious to all! And don’t forget that There’s No Plate Like Chrome for the Hollandaise!

 

8 thoughts on “North Pole-tergeists from Christmas Passed

  1. Is Notmytribe a political blog or one for family reminiscences? How nice you have pleasant memories and family ways. What does that have to do with leftist writings?

  2. Whasamata Andy, walking sideways? Lighten up, ’tis the season to be ha-ha! I quite enjoyed the concept of pun-ishing your friends and family at the holiday gathering. Nothing a few chuckles and groans will not cure. Good post, Marie.

  3. Andy, if you run out of interesting x-mas shit at Readers Digest you can click on the article categories at the lower left of NMT. Personal Notes, Dear Diary, Best List, Leisure, and Travel have a hundred or more anecdotal posts, enough to wreck your mood until Easter!

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