The Great Holiday Catastrophe
Three Stultifying, Trifling and Unimaginably Pusillanimous Officials (S.T.U.P.O.’s) sat around a big round, glossy table. A large calendar lay in front of them.
The Secretary of Dates frowned. The Minister of Snacks licked powdered sugar from her fingers. The Vice President of Riddles said “What do you get when you cross a boa constrictor with tomatoes?”
No one knew the answer.
“A bottle of ketchup that squeezes itself,” he said.
The other officials rolled their eyes. “We have no time for riddles or constrictors or condiments. Can’t you see there is something terribly, horribly wrong with this calendar?”
They took a long look.
January, February and March made them faint. April, May and June gave them hives. July, August and September made them sob like wet babies. October, November and December set their teeth chattering like castanets.
There were too many holidays.
There were too many celebrations and parties. There was too much laughing and singing. There was too much gift giving and gift getting. There were too many school vacations.
They passed a law called the Accrued Combined Holiday Oversight Omnibus (A.C.H.O.O.) Act. The old holidays were replaced by just a few, strange new ones. The Secretary, Vice President and Minister were pleased.
But things started to go wrong. Things went very, very wrong.
Teachers R Rodents Day (formally Groundhog Day and National Teachers Day) fell on June 14th. Everyone waited patiently that morning for Mrs. Erleen Runchbottom, fourth grade teacher at Loonbinder Elementary School in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, to emerge from the Teachers Lounge. The hallway was filled with parents, teachers, students, television crews and lights. Mr. McFlibbish, Principal of Loonbinder, stood smiling for the cameras. At exactly 7:27 a.m., Mrs. Runchbottom opened the door to the lounge and peeked outside. The startled woman blinked her small, wet eyes, spotted McFlibbish and slammed the door.
“SIX MORE WEEKS OF SCHOOL!” shouted happy parents. Students and teachers cried.
June 29th became Foolish Hearts Day (formally Valentines Day and April Fools Day). Jimmy Jimcracks' mother smiled as she opened a big heart-shaped box wrapped in red foil. It was a gift from Jimmy. Jimmy ducked for cover as the box exploded, covering Mrs. Jimcrack with gooey chocolate and sticky caramel. Jimmys' father opened his gift very, very slowly. It was just a can of shaving cream. He thanked Jimmy but kept looking over his shoulder, nervously.
That night, that Jimcracks tucked Jimmy into his bed. Mrs. Jimcracks hair was still stiff with salt water taffy. Mr. Jimcracks' face was dyed bright blue.
“Good night, Jimmy,” said they said. They wore strange smiles on their faces.
Jimmy started to say goodnight but stopped. He felt something cool and slinky crawling up his leg.
Pops and Rockets Day (formally Independence Day and Fathers Day) fell on October 17th. The day began at the crack of dawn in Whipglooder, West Virginia with a big Dads-On-Parade Extravaganza. Main Street was clogged with wandering, bewildered dads. They shuffled along in pajamas and slippers. They spilled coffee and idly scratched. The Whipglooder High School marching band followed close behind, cymbals crashing and trombones blaring.
Later, after the Spicy Deviled Egg Salad and S’mores Eating Contest, jittery dads dodged bottle rockets during the Television Remote and Runaway Recliner Relay. The day ended with the Whipglooder Ladies Auxiliary Glee Club serenading the few dads still standing (to the tune of The Star Spangled Banner):
On say can you see
My old man’s knobby knees?
What so proudly we hail,
His fat belly so pale!
Turkey Treater Day (formally Halloween and Thanksgiving) fell on August 29th. Wally Knicknacker and his little sister Katrina prepared for Tricks or Treats. Wally was dressed as a pilgrim. Katrina, as a witch. Their costumes looked exactly the same, except Wally shouldered a musket and Katrina, a broom.
Wally and Katrina went door to door. They saw goblins that gobbled. Elaborate Jack-O-Turkeys glowed on front porches. A kind looking grandmother handed out treats from a cornucopia full of spiders, bats, toads and newts.
When they got home, they emptied their sacks on the living room floor. Katrina sorted through the pile of mashed potatoes and gravy, molded gelatin salad and glazed yams with marshmallows. Wally hurried off to a costume party. He didn’t want to miss bobbing for mincemeat pie.
December 24th was no longer Christmas Eve. It was now Fling Grandma and Grandpa Day (formally National Aviation Day and National Grandparents Day). There wasn’t a reindeer in sight that night, only soaring elderly people.
With his six children, 27 grandchildren and 11 great-grand children looking on, Grandpa Bill Bleanerpoot catapulted from a giant rubber band high into the sky above Haversack, Florida. He looked spectacular soaring above the palmetto trees in dark wraparound shades, flowered shirt, Bermuda shorts, black socks and sandals.
Grandma Philmona Fetterloam of Red Gumms, Minnesota, blasted from a circus cannon in galoshes, plastic scarf and overcoat. She skidded to a soft landing in the salad bar at the Red Gumms Jumbo Buffet, just in time for the Early Bird special.
In Brainfreeze, Massachusetts, Bing Kiltkanuuver, an old white bearded gentleman dressed in a red union suit, crashed onto someone’s roof. He became wedged in the chimney and had to be rescued by the B.F.D.
Hunka-Hunka Auld Lang Syne Day (formally Elvis’s Birthday and New Years Eve was celebrated on July 30th. Roger and Vonda Ray Van Ribblemilch gyrated wildly in their family room. Portly Roger and plump Vonda Ray were dressed in glittering, tight fitting jumpsuits. Roger tossed scarves to Vonda Ray. She shouted, “Go cat, go! Go cat, go!”
The twins, Reenie and Rudie, wore matching pompadour wigs and blue suede shoes. They sat in front of the television eating cheeseburgers, waiting for the big Fried Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich to drop in Times Square.
At the stroke of midnight the sandwich fell in a dazzling burst of laser light. The Van Ribblemilch family, everyone watching on television, and the one million people in Times Square, all wearing identical jumpsuits, curled their lips into sneers and sang “Hound Dog”. Their singing set off a sonic boom. When they got to the part about never catching a rabbit, the jumpsuits burst. It took days to clean up the mess.
The three S.T.U.P.O.s sat around their big, round, glossy table. A mountain of angry mail lay in front of them.
The Secretary of Dates frowned. The Minister of Snacks finished her bag of Cheese Mumblers. The Vice President of Riddles said “What do you get when you cross the Mississippi with a talking pig?”
No one knew the answer.
“A night in Dubuque with a conversation hog”, he said.
The Secretary of Dates and the Minister of Snacks rolled their eyes and shook their fists. “We have no time for hams, riddles or rivers. Everyone is very, very angry!
They passed a new law called the Overturned Odious Proclamation (O.O.P.’s) Act. All the old holidays were restored. The strange new ones were gone forever. The Secretary, Vice President and Minister were pleased.
Everyone was pleased. Well, almost everyone. It was Christmas Eve again, right on schedule. Santa Claus was at his last stop in Brainfreeze, Massachusetts. He was just getting ready to slide down the chimney when he stopped. He put a hand to his ear and listened. He heard a low, whistling sound. Something big was closing fast from above . . .