A Christmas Carol
By Mary A. Fall
"Again, Dad, from the top." Scott cued his father with a wave.
"Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, had a very shiny nose," Paul sang along with the tape-recorded music, a puzzled look on his face. "And if you ever saw it, you would even say it glowed." He reached over and hit the pause button. "Why am I doing this?"
"Did you see the look on that guy's face when you told him you never even heard of Rudolph?" Scott sat cross-legged on his bed.
"Yes, but I did what you told me before when someone seemed surprised at something I didn't know. Why are you still upset?"
"Telling someone you're just passing through will work in a lot of cases, Dad, but not for this." Scott pointed to the sheet of paper Paul held in his hand. "Everyone knows these songs. Everyone."
"But you will. By the time I'm done with you, you're going to know every Christmas song from Rudolph to I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus."
"Why would Jenny Hayden kiss Santa Claus?"
After heaving a profound sigh, Scott leaned forward and released the pause button on the tape recorder. "Sing."
Obediently, Paul managed to warble through to the end of Rudolph with only minor hesitations on the words. Then, as the strains of The Twelve Days of Christmas filled the room, he asked, "Why do people sing about a wild animal with a genetic disorder at Christmas time?"
"Come again?" Scott stared at his father.
"Why do people sing about..."
"I heard you the first time." With an I-don't-believe-we're-having-this-conversation look on his face, Scott counted to ten before he continued. "Dad, it's just a song. A story. It's make-believe. Like little green men on Mars." He held up a hand. "Forget I said that. It's a tradition, that's all. Okay?"
"Okay. Do you want me to sing it again?"
"Uh...no. Not right now. We'll come back to it later. How about this one? Got It memorized yet?" All the while they'd been talking the recorder had continued to work through the twelve days.
"Eight maids a milking, seven swans a swimming, six geese a laying, five golden rings," Paul sang along with a little more confidence than he had shown on Rudolph. "Four calling birds, three French hens, two turtledoves, and a partridge in a pear tree."
"Great!" Scott applauded. "You've got that one down pat."
"I'm glad, but why did the true love send all those things? They must have been a burden for the receiver."
"Dad!" Scott yelped in frustration. "You don't know why. I don't know why. No one knows why. No one really cares. It's just a song and everyone knows it. So you've got to know it too. Or when Fox starts waving your picture around again, people are gonna remember the guy who didn't know the songs."
"I stick out that badly?"
"Like a sore thumb. So, please, can we try it again?" Scott hit the rewind button. "I'd hate to spend Christmas in jail."
"So would I." Paul studied the sheet before him. "I don't want to be a sore thumb to you, but I also want to understand why people sing about animated snowmen, getting front teeth for presents, men in red suits coming down chimneys, strange tidal conditions, and flying reindeer with genetic conditions."
Scott jabbed the play button. "Sing, Dad."
Paul did and in a moment Scott joined in. 'We wish you a Merry Christmas. We wish you a Merry Christmas. We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year."
"Merry Christmas, Dad."
"Merry Christmas, Scott."