Monday, December 7, 2009

You’ll Go Down in History

Charlie-In-The-Box: I'm the official sentry of the Isle of Misfit toys.
Hermey: A jack-in-the-box for a sentry?
Charlie-In-The-Box: Yes. My name is...
Rudolph: Don't tell me: Jack.
Charlie-In-The-Box: No, Charlie. That's why I'm a misfit toy. My name is all wrong. No child wants to play with a Charlie-In-The-Box so I had to come here.

Unless you’re of a certain age, the story doesn’t resonate.

No, not the story of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”, dumbass. That story resonates with all God’s children.

No, I mean the classic story of “Jack Sh*t Having to Watch Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”.

I guess I was six or seven years old, and had settled in to get my Rudolph on. I was sitting there cross-legged, about two feet from the front of the set in my prime TV-watching position. The show started in an hour-and-a-half, and I wasn’t going to miss one second of it.

I was so engrossed in my TV watching that I didn’t notice my parents packing the car, didn’t pay any attention to them getting their coats on, ignored them when they called out “Jack, ready to go?”

“Whaaa?” I moaned confusedly, and my mother Shirley patiently explained that we were making the two-hour drive to see the grandparents.

“Huh?” I moaned, and she reached down and flicked the television set off. “I told you we were going this weekend,” she said. “Now go get in the car right now.”

This is the part of the story that my own kids don’t understand.

“Why didn’t you just set it to record on the DVR?” asked Pisa, my 10-year-old daughter.

“Didn’t you own a copy of it if you liked it so much?” asked Holly, my 17-year-old daughter.

“They didn’t even have VHS tapes,” my 21-year-old daughter Noe explains to the others. “Get this: they didn’t even have a remote control.”

“I’m scared,” says Pisa, shivering.

It never ceases to freak them all out to hear about our TV watching habits in the olden days. Yes, if you wanted to watch a show, you had to sit there when it came on and watch it right then and there. If you missed it, you… well, you missed it.

So cut back to that brave young lad in the backseat of his father Horace’s Oldsmobile. Did he take this disappointment with courage and good grace? With understanding and a discernment that belied his young age?

Oh hell no.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I cried a little, and by “a little,” I mean for 45 minutes at maximum volume and intensity. We had crossed the state line and I was still wailing like a banshee. Horace was threatening to veer into oncoming traffic if I didn’t stop, but Shirley was getting worried.

“Maybe he’s hurt,” she frowned. “Are you hurt, Jackie?”

“I WANNA WATCH RUDOLPH!” I sobbed, and even my younger sister was starting to get upset.

My parents were only human, so about five minutes later, Horace testily pulled the Olds into a big sweeping U-turn and we headed home. My cries began ratcheting down the closer we got to the living room TV set.

We pulled into the driveway with three minutes to spare, and Shirley sat my butt right back in the spot I had so happily previously occupied.


I simply smiled back.

Since that night, each year I get a call from my mother whenever “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” is on network TV. She call to to remind me that it’s on, and warns me I had better have my ass in a chair in from of that set and watch every cotton-pickin’ second of it.

I like to think that I get some of my determination from Mom’s side of the family.


  1. I'm not sure if it's on anymore, but I dearly loved "A Year Without Santa Claus." You just can't beat that old fashioned stop animation.

  2. I love this story. And recently my son was trying to wrap his head around the fact that when I was his age, our television didn't have a remote. Hilarious.

  3. You crack me up.....I'm a lover of the Rudolph as well. :) I also dig the name Jack....

  4. Too funny.

    Sounds like my son last night. He LOVES Polar Express. Like quotes the lines (and he's only 2) LOVES. We turned it off last night and you would've thought he had lost his best friend. It was so sad, but a little funny.

  5. LMAO I get it Jack I really do! Love this story and now I want to watch Rudolph :)

  6. I still to this day have memories of getting all dressed in jammies and getting ready to watch "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" with my little Sissy and Mom and Dad. Now that my kids are older and my Sissy is about to have another little one, I still sit down and enjoy it by myself...even if my 13 year old son looks at me like I lost my own shit!!

  7. Great story! My husband and I were just saying last night how it's great they still show the "old school" animation that we watched as kids before the CGI made it all fancy. Kids these days don't know how hard it was before the VCR or the remote control :) (don't mind my kids these days rant...I'm turning 40 tomorrow)

  8. I too remember not having DVR or a remote control. I actually watched commercials!

    I love this holiday special- thanks for the daily funny. :)

  9. Shirley, is my kind of mom. Sit down, watch and don't move a damned muscle. What a cute little shaver you must have been. A pain, to be sure, but probably cute, too.

  10. my kids still can't believe that when I was a kid, not every room of the house had a TV! Oh and oh my son with his "what do you mean, black and white?" LOL
    Gotta love it!
    Then again, what did we do before cell phones too?

    Nice story Jack. My Mom calls me on my bday every year on the exact time I was born! :) Love family traditions like that (oh and luckily I was born at 6.45 am!)

  11. I love this! Our kids do not understand what a treat those holiday shows were. Now things are all "on demand".

    Hey, kid - get off my lawn! Not that I'm getting old or anything.

    Thanks for the memory.

  12. Funny story! Love those old TV war stories - like thinking the entire Wizard of Oz was in black and white.

  13. Great story!
    If you really want to scare your kids, tell them about the phone situation back then!
    So, when is Rudolph on this year?

  14. Ha! That is too cute. As soon as I saw the holiday faves on video I snatched them up for my son!

  15. Could never stand Rudolph, but could NOT MISS the Grinch every year.

    And I still marvel at the wonder that is the DVR. Especially since as I age, staying up past 9pm is getting to be a challenge.

  16. 600 followers? Dayummmmmm

  17. I still don't DVR much...even though I have one. I still can't find my remote....but yes, I still watch Rudolph, Frosty and all the old specials...

    My mother would have stopped the car, but not to turn around :D

  18. Funny! I was like that over Santa Claus is coming to Town. Burger Meister Meister Burger et al.

    P.S. Seconds Anonymous commenter... 600 Followers Jack!! At least I can say "I remember Jack when he only had 60 followers :-)

  19. Your parents were so nice to you. Mine would have tied me to the roof racks or tossed me in the trunk.

  20. Linda's right. Phone stories really scare kids. I once saw a kid in a technology museum try to push buttons on a dial phone. I have felt old from that day onwards (or perhaps that was the day I decided to go to a technology museum of my own valition?)

  21. Too friggin funny!!!!!!!!!!! Oh yes, I am old enough to understand!!!! Days when we had to actually get up to turn a channel or change the volume! HEY, a new workout... take the remote away & squat up & down every time you get up to change the channel or volume... think of all the ways you can get exercise in without that remote!!!

    OK, gonna sit down now & get my remote! :-)

  22. Every year we would watch rudolph and usually frosty was on RIGHT after.
    Best night of the year...
    oh, and the sound of music and The wizard of oz and It's a wonderful life and the charlie brown christmas (which I still love and which still makes me cry.)
    If you missed it, you missed it..that's what made it sooo special.

  23. LOL! We just had that conversation with our kids regarding all the Christmas specials. Woe be to the parents who scheduled something that conflicted with Rudolph! The next day? Obama's speech on Afganistan was going to confict with Charlie Brown Christmas, so CBS rescheduled it! You just don't mess with the Christmas specials...even if you're the President!

  24. I'm not of a certain age apparently... ;)

  25. Your blog is hilarious! We re-discovered that classic with the little ones this year.

  26. You're making me nostalgic for Christmas specials... *sniffles*

  27. Oh Shirley Sh*t is so sweet! I'm pretty sure my parents would have kept driving in the Buick wagon.

    We have had the exact same conversation with our kids, and they are equally bewildered by the TV situation in the "olden days." Now our biggest challenge is 1) finding the Rudolph, Year without a Santa Claus, and Santa Claus is Coming to town DVDs and 2) deciding which one is un-scratched enough to actually watch.

    Jack, fix your weight chart. It gives you the same weight 2 weeks in a row, and we all know that NEVER happens to Jack Sh*t, Super Loser.

    Happy Rudolphing.

  28. When I was that age, my parents had a TV remote - ME! Oh, the sweet memories of the melodious bellows of "come change this channel..." Honestly, I would sometimes get called out from my bedroom in another part of the house to come to the family room to change channel...go figure!

  29. Y'know, Santa is a DICK in Rudolph! Seriously, if Santa can't be good to the weird-looking kids and the gay dentists, who's going to be?

    And all that yo-yo dieting is hardly healthy.

  30. I sure hope you get that phone call, and treasure it, for many years to come!

  31. I was probably at least 10 when I saw Rudolph for the first time in color. Guess you didn't adhere to Clarice's song, "there's always tomorrow." LOL I have to say Rudolph has always been my favorite.

  32. That was a good story. I love that show, too.

  33. Ahhh ... I remember the days oh too well! I also remember our first remote that didn't have 2 legs but instead a long (but never quite long enough) cord that plugged in to that new vcr contraption thingie.

    My grandkids probably won't even know what a dvd is much less vhs or (gasp) beta.

  34. For about 9 months (from last September until this July) I was w/o DVR, and even w/o the broadcast channels (landlord had satellite, and the attenna for the other stuff had sucky reception). It was hell.

    I also remember my Aunts remote control was one that had a wire to the cable box, and you changed the channels with a dial. That was crazy.

  35. LOVE this story!!! To friggen cute!



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