A PHENOBARBIAN CHRISTMAS
Once upon a time in the great metropolis of Phenobar far, far beyond the North Pole lived a family quite unlike any other. They dwelled in a beautiful minaret gilded in silver and gold. The rode in a bejeweled phaeton pulled by six white donkeys led by a magnificent centaur named Cedric, whose bright red eyes illuminated the sky. Gladden, the padre, and Diaphony, the madre, had twin daughters - Etherina and Netherella, and a son, Itt. Thus begins our tale - with this family in the silver and gold minaret in the great metropolis of Phenobar, one cold and snowy winter's eve.
"Etherina, Netherella, Diaphony," Gladden shouted. "Hurry. Hurry girls, the phaeton awaits, and Cedric is getting restless. You, too, Itt, get a move on!"
Etherina floated down from the upper level. Netherella floated up from the lower level. And Diaphony and Itt ... well, they just floated, waiting for the girls to join them. When the family was together, they wafted hand-in-hand to the waiting phaeton.
"Buckle up everyone," Gladden instructed. "We've a long trip ahead, and we can't have anyone floating away."
When all were belted in, Gladden called, "Onward and upward, Cedric."
"Excuse me, sir," Cedric said, "but I think Dominick, the Italian Christmas donkey may have a bit of a cold. Perhaps we should leave him behind this year."
"Dominick," said Gladden. "Are you not feeling well?"
"Oh, I'm quite all right sir," brayed Dominick. "You know I would never let a little sniffle get in the way of doing my job. Besides, if that wretch, Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, can prance all over the skies with his runny nose, I certainly won't let a little sniffle get in my way."
"What do you think, Diaphony, darling?" asked Gladden.
"Oh, let Dominick come. It wouldn't be a holly, jolly Christmas without him," replied Diaphony.
And so, with Cedric in the lead, the bejewelled phaeton rose into the air and began its Christmas journey.
Diaphony smiled at Gladden. "We're getting an early start this year, darling. I do believe we'll finally beat old St. Nicholas at his game."
"Indeed, indeed," replied Gladden. "Well, it will be the first Christmas we have ever done that. It will certainly be the last Christmas for the Claus family if we succeed."
"Itt," said Diaphony. "You have the map. What's the first stop on our journey?"
"Let's see," Itt said, looking at the pretty paper the map was printed on. "First stop - grandmother Cratchitt's house. Cedric, take the phaeton down. We'll have to go over the river and through the woods."
The phaeton glided gently to earth and settled on a blanket of snow at the far corner of the woods. It was a silent night; the silence was broken only by the silver bells jingling on the reins that Gladden held in his hands. Before long the phaeton came to a stop near a tiny cottage in the Appalachian woods. Etherina and Netherella, as children are wont to do, flew quickly from the phaeton and floated to the nearest window. Inside was a wizened woman, body stooped with age. They watched as she ate a bowl of stone soup then went to sleep on a bed of straw on the cold stone floor.
"Ooooh," laughed Netherella. "Look at that old hag. She's not worth our time, papa. Let me take her off tonight and be done with it. She'll be much happier in the netherworld than here."
"Netherella," Gladden chided, "Have you learned nothing from our yearly visits? When it is time for her soul to leave that poor wretched body, it will do so with no help from you. And whether it travels to the netherworld with you or the etherworld with Etherina is not for you to decide."
"Listen to your father, Netherella," said Diaphony. "Now, let us see what we can do for this poor soul."
"Let's fill her larder," sang Etherina. "And leave her some wood."
And so, while the old hag slept, Diaphony, Gladden, Etherina, Itt, and a reluctant Netherella filled the old woman's larder and stacked cut wood for her fire.
"Well done. Well done, children," Diaphony said with pride. "It is wonderful to give love on Christmas day."
"Onward and upward, Cedric." Gladden shouted. "Where to next, Itt?"
Itt looked at the map. "Next stop, Nashville," Itt said. "There's a Tennessee Christmas on the schedule this year."
The phaeton moved through the winter sky, then slowly arced downward into the outskirts of Nashville coming to rest up on the housetop at a small ranch. The phaeton's residents floated to the windows of the dark house and peered inside at its occupants. They could see an old man dressed in denims and cowboy boots. A black stetson rested in his lap. A younger version of the man sat by his side.
"Son," they heard the old man say, "I ain't got much ta give ya 'ceptin this old hat. It was mine, then yer daddy's, and now its yers. It's seen a right lotta hard times but it's kept our heads cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Wisht I had more fer ya' boy, but it's the best I can do. Things just ain't been the same since grandma got run over by a reindeer."
The boy looked up at his grandpa with loving adoration. "Thanks, grandpa. I 'preciate the gift, but you know I don't need nuttin for Christmas, grandpa, nuttin' but you. I'll always treasure this hat, and I'll be the best cowboy you ever saw when I grow up. I promise."
"Yeee-uck. How saccharin," moaned Netherella.
"Ne..ther...ella," cautioned Diaphony. "Behave yourself!"
"Oh, all right, mama," said Netherella. "But how do we make a Christmas for cowboys?"
"That's easy," smiled Etherina. "We'll fix the fences, curry the horses, and give the boy a brand new saddle."
And so they did.
"Do you hear what I hear?" Gladden asked when they were done. "It sounds like Santa Claus is coming to town. We best get moving!"
Off in the distance a loud voice roared. "Run, Rudolph, run. That scurrilous bunch from Phenobar is trying to steal Christmas from us again!"
"Where to next, Itt?" Cedric asked.
"New York City. The Big Apple." Itt replied.
"I can't believe that after all these eons I'll be home for Christmas," said Diaphony. "I've missed sister since we moved to Phenobar. Christmas in New York, it's the most wonderful time of the year. Well, except for that year sister betrayed us. I can still hear Pugsley saying, 'I saw mommy kissing Santa Claus.' It broke my heart, but I guess it's time to let bygones be bygones. I'll never understand how she could be such a traitor, though. I mean the whole family knows how the Claus family stole Christmas from us."
"Tut, tut," scolded Gladden. "Give your sister a break. Be happy to be going home for the holidays. We'll stop by for a short visit. After all, this will be the first noel she's seen you in a long, long time. I can't imagine what it must have been like on her first Christmas without you. You two were always so close."
'All I want for Christmas is you,' the woman thought. 'I pray you are safe there in Iraq. Please come home for Christmas. There can't be a Christmas without you.'
"Oh, my," said Diaphony, tears welling in her eyes. "What can we do, Gladden? What can we possibly do to ease this woman's pain and give her a merry Christmas, darling?"
"Not to fear," Gladden smiled. "It's all been arranged."
"It's a good, thing," joked Itt. "By the looks of mother you would have found your chestnuts roasting on an open fire if you hadn't come up with a solution for this woman's blue, blue Christmas."
"Oh, yeah, you're a real nutcracker, 'sweet', aren't you?" Gladden laughed, glancing at his wife out of the corner of his eye. Diaphony glared at him.
Just then the doorbell rang. The woman rose slowly and walked toward it. She opened the door and found her tall, blue-eyed sailor standing there.
"Happy Christmas, the war is over," he said, taking the small, blonde woman in his arms. "I'm home now, and we're going to have a good old fashion Christmas."
"Have yourself a merry little Christmas," whispered Etherina.
"Sleep well, little children," said Netherella much to everyone's surprise.
And off the Phenobarbians flew in their jewel-encrusted phaeton.
"It's time for Christmas dinner," Gladden said. "Onward to sister's house, Cedric."
In the flash of an eye, the phaeton arrived at a large, gray house on the outskirts of the city. Gargoyles graced each side of the front entrance, and cobwebs adorned the windows. A bat-knocker hung in an upper panel of the door. The phaeton's occupants disembarked and floated up to the door.
Itt reached out to knock at the door of his aunt's house. "Hi, Itt," said the bat knocker. "Long time no see. Did you come to deck the halls?"
"Hmm. See Aunt Morticia is still letting you bats out of the belfry," Itt replied, banging the poor little bat against the door 'till its eyes rolled.
A dark-haired woman quickly answered the door. She let out a howl of happiness and grabbed Itt. "Oh, my little drummer boy, I've missed you so," Morticia said. "I can't believe this. The whole Addams family will be together for Christmas. Diaphony, love...Gladden...girls, do come in. Gomez will be back shortly. Lurch and Wednesday took Grandmama Addams to the cemetery."
The group glided down the long hallway and into the library. They had barely settled in when they heard the ringing of bells coming down the hall.
"Oh, that must be Uncle Fester," said Morticia. "Fester, stop with those damn jingle bells. Come see who's here."
"Morticia, get a grip," groused Fester as he moved into the room. "I'm just getting into the spirit of things with a little jingle bell rock?"
Fester smiled at the assembled group. "Well, folks, are you going to stay for twelve days of Christmas?"
"We'd like to, Uncle Fester, but we've got one more sleigh ride to take before our work is done for this year," Gladden responded.
"Sleigh? Didn't know you owned a sleigh," said Fester. "Thought you just had that gaudy phaeton."
"Now, Uncle Fester," Diaphony cautioned. "Be nice. Gladden bought the deluxe model. It's a carriage in the warmer weather and converts to a sleigh in the winter."
"Damn boy always was a showoff," Fester muttered.
"Shame on you, Glad," Morticia chimed in. "You just arrived. We don't see enough of you folks or my favorite nephew here. I was hoping we'd have a big celebration and do a little rocking around the Christmas tree this year. Besides, we have a gift for all."
"Sadly, we don't have time this year, Aunt Morticia. Besides you don't need to do Christmas up big for us. All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth," Itt said, flashing a toothless grin.
Morticia laughed. "I always wanted a baby just like you, nephew" she said.
"Ho. Ho. Ho." A deep voice rang out from the hallway.
"Here comes Santa Claus," Morticia said delightedly.
Itt stiffened. 'She wouldn't,' he thought to himself. 'She wouldn't dare have that man in this house. What an insult to mother and father. I'm leaving. I swear.....'
To the astonishment of the visitors, into the room strode a little round man wearing a red suit and sporting a white beard. He ambled over to Morticia, grabbed her around the waist, and kissed her solidly in front of them all.
"Gomez," Morticia giggled, "that beard tickles. Greet our guests and go change! It's almost time for dinner, and they have to be on their way again."
"So soon?" queried Gomez.
"Ah, yes," replied Gladden. "We have one more stop to make and it's far away."
"That, Gomez," said Morticia as her husband left the room. "Every year he sneaks around in that silly costume trying to get the goods on Santa. He knows how much it hurt when the Claus clan stole Christmas from us."
'Well, you screwed that one up, big time, Pugsley,' mused Itt as he remembered his cousin's accusations, the ones that kept his mother and her sister apart all these years.
Diaphony smiled broadly. 'I knew in my heart you couldn't be a traitor to our family, Morticia,' she thought.
The bat knocker sounded and small bursts of energy could be heard popping down the hall. Morticia looked lovingly at her nephew. "Itt," she said, "there's someone I want you to meet. I've invited the neighbor's girl to dinner. I think you two will be a perfect match!"
Itt turned and stared into the eyes of the most beautiful creature he had ever seen. Itt felt himself pulsating as the stranger hovered before him. 'Merrrrry Christmas,' he thought to himself.
"Hello, I'm Loriphilia," she said. "You must be Itt."
Itt blushed. "Hi," he mumbled shyly. "Glad to meet you."
Much to the amusement of the adults, Itt and Loriphilia couldn't keep their eyes or their energies off each other all during dinner.
"May I please be excused?" Itt finally asked. "I think Loriphilia and I will take a short flight around the estate."
"But, son," said Diaphony, "it's snowing heavily out there."
"Let it snow," Itt replied. "I've been dreaming of a white christmas."
Itt and Loriphilia floated down the hall together and out into a winter wonderland.
"Where will you be going next," Gomez asked Gladden.
"Well, I think the next stop is the Gaza Strip, on the West Bank." Gladden replied.
"Do they know it's Christmas?" Morticia asked.
"Oh, Morticia, darling," Diaphony responded. "It's Christmas everywhere."
"Perhaps," said Morticia. "But not everyone has something to celebrate.
We should pray for the ones that have nothing to celebrate."
"And so we shall," replied Diaphony.
"Come, Diaphony. Girls, it's time to be on our way," Gladden said. "Netherella, go find Itt. Etherina, see if Cedric is ready."
"Ah, we'll miss you all so," Morticia said tearfully. "Don't make it so long between visits. Perhaps we can travel to Phenobar one day soon."
"Please, do, sister," Diaphony replied. "We're renovating the minaret and there should be plenty of room by spring." Diaphony kissed Morticia on the cheek then joined Gladden at the door.
Gladden and Diaphony floated out to the phaeton. Etherina was already belted in, and Cedric was chomping at the bit to get started again. Netherella returned without Itt.
"Where is your brother," Gladden demanded.
"Papa, he wants to stay here with Loriphilia. Can he please?" Netherella begged. Gladden was no fool. He knew the only reason Netherella was being so kind to her brother was that she knew she would take over Itt's job as navigator if he did not continue on the journey. But Gladden, being a wise man, understood the passions of young love and agreed to let Itt stay on at his Aunt Morticia's.
So, Itt stayed on with Loriphilia. They danced and played and floated and flirted until it was midnight. The snow had stopped, and the weather was clear. Soon, in ectoplasmic ecstacy with Loriphilia, Itt 'came' upon the midnight clear while Loriphilia screamed the Hallelujah chorus into the cold night air. Their merging was so intense that neither heard the Bells of St. Mary pealing in the distance.
The rest of the family continued their Christmas sojourn. The trip to the Gaza Strip was a successful one. All fighting stopped and for one wonderful winter's eve Jew, Muslim, and Christian broke bread together in the spirit of brotherhood.
Everywhere that the Claus family went that Christmas they found that Gladden's family had taken a step into Christmas before them, fulfilling the needs of those less fortunate, making dreams come true, and spreading peace and love.
"Next year," grumbled Santa to Mrs. Claus. "You just wait until next year! Wouldn't have happened this year if Rudolph had gotten his damn flu shot."
'Ah, go tell it on a mountain, Santa baby,' Mrs. Claus thought.
Diaphony and Gladden and Etherina and Netherella returned on one cold and snowy winter's eve, tired but happy, to the great metropolis of Phenobar, to their silver and gold minaret, where they slept soundly, visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads.
And thus ends the tale of a family quite unlike any other, a tale of a Phenobarbian Christmas.
The characters of Gomez, Morticia, Itt, Pugsley, Uncle Fester, Lurch, Wednesday and Grandmama Addams are part of the Addams Family covered by the following copyrights. The original copyright holder of the Addams Family tv series was:Copyright © 1964 Filmways Television Productions, Inc. Video Distribution Copyright © 1964 (Dist.) Worldvision Home Video, Inc. For copyright inquiries contact: The Lady Colyton (Charles Addams widow) c/o William H Lockard, Fox Family Worldwide, Inc., 10960 Wilshie Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90024-3702
The characters of Diaphony, Gladden, Etherina, Netherella, Dominick the donkey, Cedric the centaur, and Loriphilia are creations of the author of this piece.
A Baby Just Like You - John Denver, J. Henry (c) 1975
A Gift For All - Elton Smith and Larry Holder
All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth - Spike Jones
All I Want For Christmas Is You - List #1
Bells of St. Mary - Bobby G. Soxx and The Blue Jeans
Blue Christmas - List #2
Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire - List #3
Christmas Dinner - Paul Stookey, 1963
Christmas For Cowboys -S. Weisberg (c) 1975
Christmas Without You - Dolly Parton and Steve Goldstein
Deck the Halls - List #4
Do You Hear What I Hear? - List #5
Do They Know It's Christmas - Band Aid
Dominick, The Italian Christmas Donkey - Lou Monte
First Christmas - Stan Rogers, 1979, on Between The Breaks
The First Noel - List #6
Give Love on Christmas Day - The Jackson Five
Go Tell It On A Mountain - The Zion Harmonizers
Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer - List #7
Hallelujah Chorus. Melody - Georg Friedrich Handel
Happy Christmas, War is Over - John Lennon and Yoko Ono
Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas - from the film "Meet Me In St.
Louis", Hugh Martin, Ralph Blane 1943
Here Comes Santa Claus - Gene Autry, Oakley Haldeman (c) 1947
Holly Jolly Christmas - Johnny Marks (c) 1962
Home For the Holidays - List #8
I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus - List #9
I'll Be Home For Christmas - Kim Gannon, Walter Kent (c) 1943
It Came Upon the Midnight Clear - List #10
It's Christmas Everywhere - Paul Anka
It's the most wonderful time of the year - Eddie Pola, George Wyle 1963
Jingle Bells - List #11
Jingle Bell Rock - List #12
Last Christmas - George Michael and WHAM
Let It Snow - List #13
Little Drummer Boy - List #14
Merry Christmas, Darling - The Carpenters; Frank Pooler, Richard
Carpenter (c) 1984
Nutcracker Suite - music by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Nuttin' For Christmas - S. Tepper, R. Bennett (c) 1955
Old fashion Christmas - Johnny Koonse
Over The River And Through The Woods - List #15
Please Come Home for Christmas - The Eagles
Pray for the ones that have nothing to celebrate-Donny Broussar
Pretty Paper - List #16
Rocking around the Christmas Tree - Johnny Marks
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer - List #17
Run Rudolph Run - List #18
Santa Baby Sung by Madonna
Santa Claus Is Coming to Town - List #19
Silent Night - List #20
Silver Bells - List #21
Sleep Well, Little Children - A.Bergman, L.Klatzkin (c) 1956
Sleigh Ride - Mitchell Parish, Leroy Anderson 1948
Step into Christmas - Elton John
Tennessee Christmas - Amy Grant, Gary Chapman (c) 1983
The Twelve Days of Christmas - List #22
Up On the Housetop - List #23
White Christmas - List #24
Winter Wonderland - List #25