Of a Christmas Past and a Charlie Brown New Year

North End of Mantle

The rocking horse has a music box which plays “Toyland” and as it plays the horse’s head and tail rise and fall while the clown on its back raises and lowers his legs. There must be something about riding a horse that tickles a clown’s bottom.

As we approach our 40th anniversary we gain a modicum of intelligence about how to pack away all this Christmas joy and paraphernalia. We are leaving the age of cardboard boxes behind us.

I was dispatched to Wal-Mart or any place that has plastic storage containers for sale. Somehow I do not feel alone.

AT Wal-Mart the brightly colored containers are everywhere. Not only Wal-Mart but Lowes and Home Depot have them and I think I even saw some street vendors carrying the things around on their backs.

So I drag the containers home and Katie Mae faithfully packs all the little Christmas people away for another year. Christmas is over and packing up all the participants gives me a sad, melancholy feeling not helped one bit by our hearing the last strains of “Toyland” from the little rocking horse that has carried that silly clown on his back for over 30 Christmases.

As I carry the containers to the basement, I can still hear the music box struggling to release a note or two but finally it is done and finished and the lights go off in the basement storage room.

And in a flash (it seems) the New Year is upon us. The holidays and all that food have done nothing to diminish my alacrity, adeptness and superior skill at surfing the channels. I hit a brick wall when I reach a channel showing, “Happy New Year, Charlie Brown.” I’ve got to stop and watch Charlie and his assortment of weird friends. I’m a kid again.

I’ve started watching close to the end of the film but I can see Peppermint Patty is in an ice skating competition and she’s out on the big rink. Snoopy is providing music with a tape player (circa 1980) when all the tape suddenly turns into a huge can of worms (or so it seems) and poor Snoopy is keyless or clueless or tone deaf or anyhow, he ain’t got no music for the Peppermint Patty skating routine.

Patty is breaking into enough sweating, hot flashes (just her cheeks) and scared to death looks that I’m afraid the ice is going to melt. This is a desperate, desperate moment. Did I say this is a desperate moment?

But wouldn’t you know it, our main man, the incomparable canary of unlimited talents flies a couple of neat tight-looped back flips and lands solidly on his little bird legs right in front of Snoopy’s microphone.

He pursed his tiny lips for a whistle. I know. You didn’t know canaries had lips but they do. Chickens do too.

Anyhow, he pursed his little lips until they were about the size of a rhino’s mouth and you never heard such beautiful music even during the long Christmas celebration.

And just what was he whistling? “O mio babbino caro” (“Oh My Beloved Father”), an aria from a Puccini opera. I didn’t happen to know that. I had to Google it. I’m not sure how Woodstock knew about it.

Woodstock saved the day and Peppermint Patty skated on into glory and greatness. I think if a tiny canary can save the day in such a big way we can achieve anything we try (almost).

Charlie Brown and Woodstock have given me a great start to my New Year. You should have seen that canary blow. “The Voice,” “The X Factor” and “American Idol” combined cannot equal Woodstock’s ability to enliven an hour, an evening or a whole brand New Year.

I just Googled it again. This time I am listening to Maria Callas sing the aria. From now on, in this New Year, if I begin to feel sad, melancholy or a little down in the dumps, I will dial up Woodstock on YouTube and let him whistle me up that incredible Puccini aria.







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