When the conversation turns to “cherished holiday traditions,” I am right in the thick of the discussion and with a pretty long list, too.
It covers everything from putting lights on the house to selecting just the right Christmas tree to putting the ornaments in place to sending the cards to baking the cookies to watching the movies to listening to the music to reading the stories to checking the wrapping paper for money before disposing of it.
(That last one is the direct result of the time someone got industrious and started burning all the Christmas paper in the fireplace and inadvertently made a $100 sacrifice to the Gods of Gift Wrap. And believe me, there are times I wish they’d pay me back.)
Anyway, because it’s me and because these are my traditions, I like to bring a certain irreverent quality to the proceedings. Solemnity has its place, of course, but in the Mike way of celebrating the season, a little solemnity goes a long way. Basically, I save it for church.
The rest of the time, I am in this for the fun. And cookies. And presents. But mostly fun.
And that brings me to one of my favorite holiday traditions: The seasonal reprise of “Deck Us All With Boston Charlie,” as written by Walt Kelly for my favorite comic strip ever, Pogo.
I can still remember the first time I read it. To a kid whose idea of big-time Christmas music fun meant “We three kings of Orient are, tried to smoke a rubber cigar,” followed by a rousing chorus of “Jingle Bells, Batman smells, Robin laid an egg,” it was side-splitting.
In fact, I laughed so hard I peed my pants. You can’t ask for a more ringing endorsement than that.
So here it is:
Deck us all with Boston Charlie,
Walla Walla, Wash., an’ Kalamazoo!
Nora’s freezin’ on the trolley,
Swaller dollar cauliflower alley-garoo!
Don’t we know archaic barrel,
Lullaby Lilla boy, Louisville Lou?
Trolley Molly don’t love Harold,
Boola boola Pensacoola hullabaloo!
Bark us all bow-wows of folly,
Polly wolly cracker n’ too-da-loo!
Hunky Dory’s pop is lolly gaggin’ on the wagon,
Willy, folly go through!
Donkey Bonny brays a carol,
Antelope Cantaloupe, ‘lope with you!
Chollie’s collie barks at Barrow,
Harum scarum five alarum bung-a-loo!
Duck us all in bowls of barley,
Hinky dinky dink an’ Polly Voo!
Chilly Filly’s name is Chollie,
Chollie Filly’s jolly chilly view halloo!
Bark us all bow-wows of folly,
Double-bubble, toyland trouble! Woof, Woof, Woof!
Tizzy seas on melon collie!
Dibble-dabble, scribble-scrabble! Goof, Goof, Goof!
I once received a long, single-spaced letter from a person who evidently believed he was the only person who really understood this song, and wondered why I would identify this as a Christmas song when Boston Charlie was clearly another name for the railroad police, which meant the government, and that Walt Kelly was actually sending secret messages about the CIA.
I wrote him back and said he needed to add another layer of tinfoil to his hat because the FBI was monitoring his brain waves. Never heard from him again, darn it.
To me, Boston Charlie’s only message is this: This is a fun time of year, so find the things that make you laugh and feel warm inside and make them traditions.
And to you and yours, Boola boola Pensacoola hullabaloo.
Mike Redmond is an author, journalist, humorist and speaker. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.