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Saturday, January 29, 2011

I Tried Everything to Loose Five Pounds

I Tried Everything to Loose Five Pounds
and then
I Lost Two-Hundred and Ten Pounds on the Greyhound System

Every year about this time it's the same old thing with me and my belt. Do I buy a new one or is there enough leather in the old one to drill another hole? Another hole into a piece of leather so long that by the time I have one end into the second belt loop of my pants, the buckle and twelve inches of premium cowhide are still snaking their way across the floor.
Why even wear a belt? Why not just let my ever expanding belly run free? Let it bump into people! Let it rub up against total strangers on the bus! Make them feel as uncomfortable as I am. And besides, without a belt I could tie these shoes (if there're the ones with the laces, I can't see from here) without the fear of passing out. Without a belt maybe my face won't turn that bright red waddling up them four stairs to the bakery. And, maybe I wouldn't sweat like a boxer in training when the weather gets warmer than 12 degrees Celsius.
Or maybe I could loose weight?
Been there done that, bought the XXXL tee-shirt.
My Mother-in-Law figures it should be easy for a looser like me to loose weight. God bless her for believing in me but I've tried more times than a Mars Bar has calories. And, I've tried every method known to late night television. All the gadgets, pills, powders, pulleys and plastic power pumping weight reducing marvels of modern science that this one person can afford on easy monthly payment plans.
Its that darned good looking tanned guy with more ruts in his belly than a Saskatchewan dirt road after a rain storm, with his equally tanned good looking female counter part, that want to make me, a better me. All you have to do is loose weight and all your problems are solved, or so they would have you believe. After you loose the weight your lighting is even better. Your before picture with all the extra baggage has that glaring bright light, all so flattering. Then once the weight magically disappears the lighting is warm and soft and makes your skin look like rippled toffee, that glistens and oozes health.
That couple suck me in every time! And they're on every channel! Oh sure their face is different, but the well toned body is the same. They just change the head for each and every new gimmick that comes along. And gosh golly darn they all fit under the bed. Like this is the main selling point. "Well I wasn't going to buy the thirty-seven in one body toning, weight reducing, carbon fiber, life extending, job enhancing, the kids will thank you, wife will love you, three year (which I think is the 37 part of the machine. They make the first payment if I order in the next 10 minutes) easy payment exercise marvel, but hey it fits under the bed!" Every bed in my house has some sort of life changing equipment under it! Because, they gave me the idea to put it there! Every time I say my bedtime prayers I bang my knees! If they had of told me it fits easily in front of the car in the garage, it'd probably be there.
Why? Because they use hypnosis to make us believe in their product. There can be no other reason. How else can you explain spending thirty dollars on forty-two cents of rubber tubing that you somehow magically think will be the answer to all of your problems. And then for some reason you want to stuff it under the bed.
I even put my weight loss pills under the bed. Mostly for fear of embarrassment someone may find out I'm on them. Oh sure I'll leave the hemorrhoid cream in the medicine cabinet for all a visitor to see, but not my diet pills.
This embarrassment I suffer from is due to the fact I've been scammed several times on my way to an easy healthier skinny me. Like the time I sent away fifty-two dollars to South Africa for an appetite suppressing pill that's made from crushed bushes that tribesmen have used for centuries to curb hunger. They didn't mention that that was all they had to eat. Just take thirty-two pills before any meal to reduce your caloric intake, the label read. And very time I did this, I did leave food behind on my plate, which was equivalent to the pile of thirty-two pills I'd eaten before dinner. Not only did it not work, it made my pooh smell funny. My Mother-in-Law, not to let anything slip by (here I mean verbally) made sure she let me know she noticed, and that the change, although welcome would probably affect her sensitive asthma condition.
Next were the weight loss pills from Sweden. The ones that Customs Canada gave me so much trouble on. Never wrap anything in plain brown paper coming from Sweden. Why? Because my Mother-in-Law now thinks of me as some kinda pervert! These pills I found out after a couple days were just laxatives, which I should of realized sooner because after the first day I couldn't leave the house. It got so bad I was dumping food I hadn't eaten yet! I was deathly afraid of sneezing in public, or private. If I had sneezed at work, (which they had phoned the house to see where I had been for the last week. I was there, just in the can) I would have to change jobs and move to a different city.
In mid-January I signed up for a two year gym membership. By the end of January I was only going there to use the showers. All the hot water I wanted and no Mother-in-Law banging on the door to use the commode. Owners of the gym loved that I showered there, they said I was an inspiration for the others to work out harder, kind of an impersonal personal trainer.
My next weight loss plan was a fail safe food system that would be delivered right to my door. Donny Osmonds little sister with that great big toothy grin, all looking slim and trim praising the weight reducing qualities of prepackaged food had me hooked. All my meals for a whole month delivered right to my house. Problem was in two weeks I had eaten what they sent me for the whole month. Now what? Wait two more weeks for food? I'll starve! Hey maybe that's how Marie lost all the weight? So what I did was sign my wife up, unbeknownst to her, and I ate that food as well. I now was eating two skinny peoples meals, and started to put on weight. I began to despise that Marie with her slim body standing beside her fat picture looking all happy and healthy, she's doing something more than just eating this crap.
My Wife then told me about an article she had read about loosing weight in one of her women's magazines. "Drink lots of water before you eat" she said "This will fill up your stomach and help reduce your food intake." Food intake? Why can't she just say eating? She thinks she's so much better than me because she's skinny. Skinny people are like that, they make fun of us gravity enriched people. She's getting just like that Marie!
So I tried the water idea before each meal. I would drink three large glasses of water before I sat down to eat. Then half way through my hot meal I would have to take a bathroom break. To solve this I just took my dinner to the bathroom and eat while on the toilet. I really didn't mind, but I would leave the door open so I could hear the news on the TV. And, with only one bathroom in the house and my Mother-in-Law staying with us for an indefinite period of time, well it was bound to happen. She walked past the bathroom door and saw me sitting on the throne in all my glory. And her with her weak heart, and the cost of the ambulance, combine this with the medical costs at the hospital......well it was either close the door and become socially ignorant on news and views or try another plan of attack on the battle of the bulge. We switched battle plans.
"Try eating from a smaller plate." my wife suggested across her mothers hospital bed, "I heard this will reduce the size of the portion intake."
What's with you skinny people? Is eat a bad word?
So now I'm eating from a plate that Is used to put under a teacup when company came over for scones. The rule my wife imposes is that I can put as much food as I want on the plate, but I can only have one plate. So I pile it high with as much food as I can. This plan for weight reduction finds me picking an awful lot of food from in, and around my swimsuit area every meal. I can't keep my food on this tiny plate, and I'm so hungry I don't want to loose a single morsel. I'm now chasing every calorie from my plate to my pants to the chair and on to the floor. I'm now giving the dog serious competition. It's my food! I want it! I need it! OOOH did the wife just drop something? Darn Rex beat me to it!
Which brings me to the best dietary system I've found so far, and quite by accident. Eating food from off the floor. Yes folks if you want to loose five, or ten pounds in just two days simply send me thirty-five dollars plus shipping and handling and I'll ship you a three day supply of my "Food Found on Floor." Now the beautiful tanned girl says "Guys do you want to loose that unsightly round gut? Do you want to have the body you've always dreamed of? And, without the sweat and pain of working out for hours every day." Then big fat me says, "Why just look at me, I use to look like this!" Camera changes to a picture of Marie Osmond....... Ooops how'd that get there. Camera now on a picture of me in a Speedo Swimsuit, and rubber boots cutting the lawn. "And now three days later look at the difference!" Soft lighting washes over me as I turn sideways and suck in my gut.
Okay, okay this is all a dream, but loosing five pounds wasn't. Five pounds! That's one-quarter of twenty pounds! I'm almost there! Just by eating food I found on the floor. So if you want to loose weight quickly, just do as I did, eat food off the floor and puke your way to a healthier, slimmer you.
One quick note, make sure all the Swedish laxatives have cleared your system before you start eating off the floor. And for Heavens sake remember to close the bathroom door! My Mother-in-Law thinks I'm on some sort of Super Model Diet. And I disgust her.
Tomorrow I'm loosing 210 lbs., I'm taking her to the bus station. I'm so excited about my extra weight loss, thanks to the Greyhound System.

by Bob Niles

From the desk of Bob Niles

Friday, January 28, 2011

What to do About Dale

Of my younger brothers, of which I have two
one found by the road, one bought from the zoo
It's the one that Mom bought, that I'd like to mention
he lives in my room, and creates lots of tension.

I'm older than him, by almost two years.
And a lot taller side by side in the mirror,
I can run faster and climb higher in trees,
I want to be different, he wants to be me.

"I need my own room!" I say to my Mom.
"Sharing with Dale is lacking in fun!"
She pats my head and says back with a smile
"Fat chance of that one, my dear funny child."

So I phone up the zoo "Do you take things back?
You see it's my Mother, it's judgement she lacks."
So they look through their books for just such a sale,
they look and they looked, but they couldn't find Dale.

I think of plan "B", involving shovel and sack,
as I lay on my bed of which Dale has half.
I'm thinking it over, this plan should work fine,
then down from the stairs my Mom yells...."Bath-time!"

Of all things shared, this ones the worst!
Someone doesn't like me,....I really feel cursed!
I share my bath water with my little brother.
"It saves on the gas bill," or so says my Mother.

So it starts with a fight, deep end or not,
the deep end has taps, a plug and a spout.
But the plug rules the depth, and the taps control heat,
so it's the best end for the eldest to seat.

I put on my pajamas, and climb in the bath,
my shallow end brother he giggles and laughs.
My pajamas you see have long ears and big feet
bright pink, real fuzzy with a tear in the seat.

With my back to the taps I now face my Brother,
we're both in the tub, but not is the water.
"Hey floppy ears!" he says "Lets get this bath started!"
I stood up, turned round, bent over, and............put in the plug.

Now the same thing happens every bath night
we start having contests,we start having fights.
"I held my breath longer!" "I spit water further!"
"Bobby made me eat soap! I want him for murder!"

"Don't tell Mom! Don't tell Mom! I'll give you a quarter
she'll hear us fooling around and kick us out of the water.
Besides it's big wave time, the time you like best,
we'll ride the soapy wave that curls and crests."

Big wave time is started with a back-n-forth motion,
each brother at an end of this bubbling soapy ocean.
I slide toward Dale with water in tow
which pushes him backwards, up the bath wall he goes.

Dale and the water then re-enter the tub
which pushes me back, full speed at the plug!
I slide to the left, clear plug spout and taps,
so high up the bath wall Dale stands up and claps.

"Get ready!" I shout "Here come a big wave!
Up the back wall it'll shoot you our positions will trade."
Down past the taps and the spout, scratch my face on the plug,
in less than a second........I'm alone in the tub.

No water. No Dale. They,re up the back wall,
he's over the shower bar........"Hey Moms in the hall!"
He says something about mad as he squirts back down
but I'm high up the bath wall, then.....face to face with a frown.

My Mother, it seems is upset with her boys.
"The bathroom is flooded! No bathing, just noise!
Get out of the tub! Get ready for bed!
I've had it to here!" her hand over her head.

My mother turned-round, and left the bathroom
our laughter and play time had now turned to gloom.
So Dale climbed out, down the hall to our room,
you'd think he'd dry off.....but Mom just assumes.

I remove my pajamas, cause they weigh eighty pounds,
from the back of the door I put on Moms gown.
It's smooth and it's silky, it fits me just right,
I'm now Super-Hero, I'll fight crime and save lives.

The first evil I'll right is that arch-villain in my room.
I run down the hall, burst the door open........KABOOM!
And there's my little Brother, crying in our bed
"Mommy's like you! She doesn't like me either!" he said.

It was there at that moment my thoughts changed of my brother,
he cared what I thought, and the feelings of Mother.
His little heart was broken, his feelings torn apart
and I felt so sorry for him that I planned a new start.

He's my little Brother and he's part of me,
united together, we're stronger than three.
He's now my best friend, and we'll always stick together,
and Mom loves us both, but........she loves me way better!

by Bobby Niles
age 55

From the desk of Bob Niles

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

This is the first year we have gone from yard bags to "green cans". And this is the first week this year that I'm able to fit all my grass cuttings into my two "green cans". Thank-you hot, dry weather!

This is the first year we have gone from yard bags to "green cans". And this is the first week this year that I'm able to fit all my grass cuttings into my two "green cans". Thank-you hot, dry weather!
I have, in weeks past, been able to get the back and front greenery to fit in both cans, but not legally. I took a page from the K-Tel Patty Stacker of the Seventies and fashioned a similar compressing device for the rear end deposits of my lawnmower. What I wound up with was grass that had the density of lead in two neat cans. Oh sure I had to have three friends help me drag each can to the curb, but I wasn't going to buy any more garbage cans.
My Father-in-law has enough garbage and "green cans" to meet his needs but his carport looks like an East Hastings back alley.
Well as it turned out the joke was on me, they didn't want my two cans of yard waste. Something about being too heavy, the bright orange sticker read. So now what do you do with two cans of wet grass, knowing that this week you'll have the same amount, or more,again. You get creative!
I became like the prisoners from the movie "The Great Escape". I'd fill up my pockets with grass and go for long walks, each step secretly dropping bits of grass around the neighborhood. We'd sometimes go as a family, each with a pocket or two of grass, leaving behind us a green slug trail of unwanted yard trimmings. On occasion we'd get lucky and find an unlocked car and quickly rid ourselves of our burden we call grass.
But all this still wasn't enough, I couldn't keep up. I was like a drug kingpin with too much money, only with grass, I needed new methods to deal with a "growing problem"! I rented a storage locker under a false name and address. I had the grandkids do a craft project and glue the yard clippings into illegal looking plants (unbeknownst to them) and had the police raid my residence. (On a side note, I told the police I had drilled some holes into logs at my Father-in-laws place and hit what looked like "grass" in the wood. They cut up and split his wood pile for him. He phoned to thank me.) I then tried just leaving the cuttings on the lawn, only to have the dog and the grandkids track it all into the house for my wife to vacuum up. Let's just say I'd rather deal with the police again than listen to my wife go on for two hours about her bad back and how she needs a new vacuum with a big yellow ball on it like her sister has.
But this week was different! All my green-space clippings are gone! The lawn I use to love, water and fertilize, I now despise. I'll never give it another drink or feed it again. My three boxes of plastic yard bags from Costco sit unused and alone. Gone is the time when you only had to walk out and back from the curb on collection day. Oh I guess you could wait outside like Forrest Gump waiting for a school bus with your "green cans" and save a trip, but me? I've got things to do. Cool wet weather's coming, where can I hide grass this Fall?

From the desk of Bob Niles

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Friday, January 21, 2011

Half the Fun was Getting There

Half the Fun was Getting There

By my fathers definition the term family vacation is like military intelligence or jumbo shrimp. The first word is not relevant to the second word. You can have a military, but not with any intelligence. You can have shrimp, but they won't be jumbo. And you can have a family, or you could have a vacation, but you can't have a family vacation. Still, every July for many years my dad loaded the old Volkswagen with enough food, water and clothing for six people on a two week trek into the vast Canadian Prairie. Then shoehorned in the aforementioned six that ate and wore all that cargo, put the car in drive, and the house in the rear view mirror.
Now had we been traveling a few hundred kilometers hip to hip, elbow to elbow in our red German body suit it would have been not a bad little trip. Had my mom and dad packed the bare essentials, realizing the interior of a Volkswagen is smaller than our split-level and that water can be found in other parts of Canada, it would have been not a bad little trip. And had my dad had a keen sense of direction and not needed my mom to play navigator, who got car sick every time she looked at a map in a moving car, it might not have been a bad little trip. But we lived in Vancouver, they packed everything we owned, and mom threw-up every time dad asked for directions.
Yes we were quite a sight. Maybe you remember seeing us? We were always in the slow lane making sure the long-haul semi-trailers were doing no more than 50 Km. An hour, or broken down by the side of the road. Or you might remember seeing a crazed man chasing kids around a German Import with a flat tire, swinging a belt. Caring through on a threat he had made some miles back. You know the threat "If I have to stop this car!" But my dad, once the car was in gear in a forward motion didn't want to stop, so he would have mom write down the appropriate childs name because his memory was so bad, and then when he needed gas or a roadside repair he'd check the list, beat the required amount of children, tend to the car, and then back on the road. Most of our stops were for beatings and repairs, not beatings and gas because of the Volkswagens great gas mileage.
Eating, bathroom breaks and the viewing of majestic panoramic vistas were all done with the car in third gear, which was fine for us kids as we preferred to go as long as possibles between stop-n-spanks. All our home movies of this countries majestic mountains to it's wide open prairie all have a rear view mirror in them. In grade school when asked to draw a picture of our Summer Vacation, in the top center of every picture was a rectangle cloud with a stick coming out the top of it.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner had a common theme. Two pieces of white bread encasing some sort of warm mystery filling, might of been meat, but it shouldn't have been green. This all chased down with a tartan thermos of instant coffee, so thick that you couldn't drink it through a straw. And for the children, a red drink served above body temperature that had a ratio of three parts sugar to one part water. There was no flavour to our red drink, just the taste of pure white sugar, turned into a syrup that we became dependent on. Like some drug dealer my mom injected a glass at a time to her four sugar junkies. We all shared from the same glass. Sometimes using a dirty glass, no care was taken, we just needed another fix. After injecting her four boys with the red syrup the car now took on an almost church like atmosphere as we all sat quietly as the sugar started to corse through our veins. Then the smallest one would start to vibrate, and one by one from the smallest to the biggest the sugar took hold.. Four boys jammed into the back of a Volkswagen, leg to leg vibrating in unison with enough lateral motion that the car would fish tail from side to side on the road. This erratic driving caused my dad to be pulled over several times for drunk driving on our quest East. And once he was! So with a 24 hr.roadside suspension we had a little mini-holiday there on the side of the #401 Hwy. between nowhere and somewhere BC.
With dads no stop policy, bathroom breaks of the No. 1 kind were also done on the go. A glass jar with a leak-proof lid (very important) was the latrine of choice. A latrine that went up and down, side to side and back and forth with every bump and pothole, twist and turn, all complicated by my dads heavy foot on the gas and brake pedal. A skill that one would soon have to master or the next flat tire or gas station stop, not only dad had a swing at you, you also had a brother with a wet pant leg going at you. So in the interest of family unity I practiced my moving latrine skills before we left home, while jumping on my bed becoming one with the aforementioned bottle. But when mom walked in my room to yell at me for jumping on the bed and caught me in my practice hindsight, it would have been better to have my older brother with a wet leg go at me.
On our mid-country trek many layers of clothing were worn to save space for packing important things like the bath mat. The first layer was at least one tee-shirt and then as many underwear as was possible. Then swim trunks, church clothes for Sunday, ("God doesn't go on vacation") two pairs of shorts, one short sleeve shirt, one long sleeve shirt and one pair of dress pants in case we went out for dinner. Convicts in prison for life had a better chance going out for dinner than we did.
We would sweat so much that the windows would steam up. In July! Here my mom was of no help, she didn't want to open the windows because it would mess her hair. A mis-aligned hair-doo, my brothers and I thought, would be the least of the visual curiosities a stranger would bestow on our family at the next gas and beatings stop. Four boys, thick with clothing, three with wet legs (remember I practiced), all having a good measure of discipline laid up on their back-sides by a somewhat crazed man, who by this point in the trip took a strange delight (a cackle or almost crazed laugh) in completing his threat.
As well as the heat issue we had to deal with, dad also added nicotine smoke to our living hell sauna. To try to get breathable air we would pull our many shirts over our nose and mouth to filter out the blue atmosphere. My older brother once cut the ends off dads used cigarette butts for the filter, thinking he could purify his air that way. One in each nostril and two in his mouth. When the air got clear enough for my mom to see us in the back seat, she just shook her head and wrote his name down for the next stop.
Spending as many hours as we did in the car, in tight quarters, you get to know your family. Back at home I never knew my brother bit his toenails, or that dad snored when he drove. The later part of that last sentence is why I think my mom was so religious. On our car trips we didn't play a license plate game or I Spy With my Little Eye or 20 Questions, we had church (we had the clothes on,..somewhere).
We would sing gospel songs and read the Bible, then dad would pass the collection plate to raise money for gas, for a poor family heading to Manitoba
"If I have to" dad would start, "stop the car" we in unison would finish, was a phrase we heard all to often. And rightly so, we were little terrors in the back of that car. But in our defense, it was because we were bored out of our minds crammed in the back of that Volkswagen for two days. Shoulder to shoulder, thigh to thigh, hour after hour moving as one up and down side to side with every bump and twist in the road. It's then when ones mind starts to invent ways to somehow sanely perverse the tedium to stay mentally strong. At your apex of brilliance you realize what's needed is a lively game of tag. Each in turn you'd tag the brother on the left, then the one on the end would reach across the car and tag his brother on the opposite side. Harder and harder we'd tag until it became a slug-fest, then some sissy would start to cry. "If I have to" dad shouted "stop the car!" we'd finish.
Some of our games we played just weren't practical. Hide-and-seek proved to be a little dangerous. My younger brother curled up in a fetal position at dads feet to try and hide from us in the back. He got in the way of the brake pedal while leaning on the gas pedal. We almost met an Ontario family on their way to the West Coast. In my brothers defense, dad should have noticed that Trevor had squeezed between the front seats then across his legs and hidden at his feet. Here again is why my mother was always in prayer. But with dads foot stomping on Trevors head, and Trevors head on the brake pedal they brought the car to a screeching halt just a breath away from an insurance claim, had we of had insurance. That was the first and only time one of us stopped the car for his own beating.
Night was a welcome relief as darkness brought on time consuming sleep. Sleep that ate away hours of tedious travel. Sleep that transported you magically across hundreds of miles of wide open prairie. Sleep that eased the grip on the steering wheel all the while adding foot pressure to the gas pedal that raced the engine that woke my mom that made her scream which jolted my dad awake to save us all from a fiery crash. Ah yes restful sleep. Mom made dad pull over to the side of the road and grab a few hours of sleep after that. It seemed strange to us kids to stop the car and not get a beating. Maybe after he rested he'd check the list. Now in fear we couldn't sleep so to pass the time we started a quiet game of night tag. In hindsight we should have tried harder to sleep.
After one more sunrise and one more sunset, two car repairs and three beatings (we just never learned) we reached our destination. Our Uncle Alberts farm. The same farm my dad had grown up on. A world away, it seemed from our life in the city. A world of strange farm machines, cows, pigs, horses and chickens, all accompanied with their own unique smells. A wide open expanse of sky and land that held an ever present danger of stepping into some kind of poo. A place where the future came a little slower. A place where you got to go to the bathroom outside, down a deep hole dug in a tiny shed. A place where the water had to be earned by physical force on the end of a pump handle. A place where a child risks a limb to collect eggs for breakfast. A place where there was no one to play with but my crazy brothers, but it was the best of times. It was a place where my dad knew everything. A place where my dads face changed, where the corners of his mouth didn't turn down quite as much. A place where his body posture seemed less rigid and he laughed with mom and us kids. It was a place, and time, where my dad was king. The perfect place for a family vacation.

by Bob Niles.

From the desk of Bob Niles

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'Erry Chri' and a 'Py New Ye' everyone!

'Erry Chri' and a 'Py New Ye' everyone!

Every Christmas since I was a boy, my dad grudgingly erected our nativity scene. A nine piece life-size plywood depiction of the first Christmas. One shepherd, three Wise Men, Joseph, Mary, Baby Jesus, a camel and one donkey. Sometimes also in attendance ( weather permitting ) were an assortment of snowmen all paying homage to the Baby Jesus.
Shining down on this first Christmas stood our Simpson Sears easy-to-assemble three-piece die cast metal "Merry Christmas" seasonal tower. Located between Merry and Christmas was a large screw-in 3000 Watt flood light. Like a shining star, it illuminated our families version of Bethlehem on that first Christmas night.
My mom was so proud of her front yard. She figured we were the best Christians on the block.
"Our nativity scene is a brilliant glowing testimony of what Christmas is all about" she'd say.
That was the first year.
Then came January and my dad ( who still believes his four boys, single handedly, caused global warming by constantly leaving the back door open ) got the electric bill for December.
Christmas next year was going to take on, as we say, a different light. Now my dad loved and kept the true meaning of Christmas in his heart every year. What he didn't love were large electric bills, or setting up of life sized Biblical characters in winter weather. And now added to the dislike list was the so called easy-to-assemble, three-piece die cast metal "Merry Christmas" seasonal tower, with it's electric sucking capabilities that made the grow-op down the street feel sorry for us.
"The neighbors know we're church-goers. We don't need a manger scene to prove it!" he'd complain. But every year my mom made him put it up. What changed on that second year and every year after was the number in front of watts on the face of the bulb between Merry and Christmas. What once was a bright and shining star wishing a Merry Christmas to neighbors near and far now was a forty-watt bulb, a bulb so dim that it oozed an eerie shadow of brown across nine unrecognizable plywood figures accompanied by piles of dark snow wearing what might be hats. The brilliant bright "Merry Christmas" easy-to-assemble three-piece die cast metal seasonal tower had now become a flight hazard known as "Erry Chri."
In the daytime it was still the best nativity scene in the neighborhood, but days are short in winter. Come 4 o'clock, that ghastly glow would soon cover our yard and an Erry Chri was all that was squeezed out of the night in our front yard.
My mom tried candles one year to brighten the scene, but the donkey caught fire and several snowmen were sacrificed to save the house.
It got so bad my friends started teasing me "Have an Erry Chri! Oh and a Py New Ye!" they'd taunt.
This lack of illumination brought on a crime spree of which I was also a part of. Points were assigned to the Shepard, camel, what was left of the donkey, and each of the three Wise Men. These points were collected by snowball strikes. A hit on the Shepard was worth more than on the camel but if either Mary or .'Baby Jesus were hit it was an eternity in the burning fires of he'll. A large price to pay for an errant snowball!
As years past, our plywood Biblical characters could no longer weather the elements. On Fathers Day ( some years sooner ) my dad got around to taking down the nativity scene. "The neighbors need to know we're church-goers and a manger scene proves it!" he'd say every month till June. So because of my dads testimony, and his lack of get around to it "Erry Chri" towered alone over an empty yard for many years.
But "Erry Chri's" dimly lit hope shone bright in my dad. When he shook your hand, looked you straight in the eye and with his million watt twinkle wished you a Merry Christmas you believed it would be.
Dad has now past on and I have inherited the easy-to-assemble three piece (which has become two because of rust and three coats of marine paint ) die cast metal, Merry Christmas by day and Erry Chri by night seasonal tower. But because of my back and sandy soil conditions the heavy old seasonal tower spends Christmas ( and every other day ) in the garage.
I asked my son if he could use old Erry Chri this Christmas. But he had just bought one of the new "Happy Holiday" inflatable snowman with the LED lights. A 8 ft. tall snowman on skis that sings Santa Clause is Coming to Town.
"Well" I said "it's in the garage behind the bikes, skis and exercise equipment ( that's suppose to fit easily under the bed ) if you need it."
He won't need it. His Happy Holiday inflatable singing snowman with energy -efficient lights is what he'll use every year. Besides everyone says Happy Holidays now.
So my now one-piece die cast metal "Erry Chri" seasonal tower will stay in the garage till my dying day for I'll never sell it for scrap metal. Those eight bleary letters from my childhood mean so very much to me. And for what it's worth I hope an Erry Chri shines brightly for you this season.

Bob Niles

Dear Editor
This is a short story i wrote of my childhood Christmas.
I submit it for your consideration.

From the desk of Bob Niles