CHRISTMAS FOR THE GOO BOYS
By John Thomas Tuft
“Mo-oomm-my-yy, hey Mom-my-y. Mo-om, hey Mom-my-y.” It is a chant that goes on and on, to the rhythm of two towheaded boys bouncing their heads off the back of the couch in a rocking motion. “Mom-my, hey Mom-my. Can. I. Have. A. Dri-ink?” As the sixth and seventh children of this particular set of parents in a small brick home in western Pennsylvania, owned by the small church on the corner of the block, is it any wonder that the small woman poking her head into the room to respond to these supplications has a head of silver-gray hair? “Danny keeps touching me,” whines little Johnny. Danny proceeds to pinch him on the arm. “He’s being bad, isn’t he, Mommy?” Johnny pronounces judgement. “He shouldn’t get any presents for Christmas.” Mommy sighs. “If you two don’t behave, nobody’s getting anything for Christmas.” Danny pipes up, “I told him to stop calling you, Mommy, but he never listens.” A spit battle ensues between the two self-stimulating angels.
Later that evening as the crew of nine are gathered around the dining room table, excitement runs high. The older ones are assigned cherished roles in decorating the home for the holiday. A large tree to trim, cards to hang around the door frames and even the railing of the stairs. It seems Mommy and Daddy may not have much in the way of earthly possessions but the treasure of being respected and well thought of is evident in the sheer number of colorful Christmas cards to display. Stockings must be hung, and cookies baked and decorated. “What do the goo boys get to do?” asks Susie. “Don’t call us that!” insist the two towheads. “Then don’t act like it,” says one of the older brothers. “You guys bounce your heads on the couch all the time and then when you go to bed you roll them back and forth on your pillows singing your silly songs,” an older sister points out the case for being goo. Johnny starts to cry because this is what he does while Danny stands defiant. “You’ll see,” he mutters with all the mighty indignation of a three-year-old prophet. “Mommy says if we don’t behave, nobody gets nothin!”
“Oh, I’m scared,” mocks Susie, “The goo boys think they run the whole family.” “They’re so goo,” adds the other older brother, “they still believe in Santa Claus. More like the goo boys ruin the whole family.” At that, Daddy snapped his fingers, a warning louder than any shouted command would have been. Later that evening, as Johnny and Danny lay in their beds, always before anyone else had to go to bed, they whispered to each other in the bunk beds while rolling their heads from side to side, making a soft rustling sound, not unlike swaddling cloths dragged across straw in a stable. “We’ll show them,” murmured Danny. “We’ll be the first ones up and go down and hide all the presents.” Johnny was enthusiastic at this prospect. “It will ruin their Christmas,” he softly squealed. “Danny, do you think the shepherds will come to the manger? Let’s sing Away in a Manger till we go to sleep.” Danny leaned over from the top bunk. “The goo boys will be the kings tomorrow, bringing out all the gifts!”
And in those days a decree went out from the county Sheriff’s office that said there would be no pause in eviction notices being served during Christmastime. So as the goo boys slept beneath their star of a nightlight, the phone rang. Daddy answered it and went out in the cold night, with no money in his wallet, little gas in the car, and no malice in his heart. The next morning, Christmas morning, mind you, the goo boys awakened early and crept down the stairs in their footie pajamas. The living room was all shut up with large wooden sliding doors. They knew that they were forbidden from entering that room which held the Christmas tree and the pile of gifts, not to mention stockings stuffed with sweets, until after the whole family was awake and had breakfast together. Then they would listen as Daddy read the story of a strange hope while they fretted about what lay behind the doors. Would they get what they had asked for, dreamed of, plotted for, sang about as they bounced their heads on the couch?
And the goo boys were sore afraid. What might the consequences be of them ignoring commands about not entering the living room before the appointed hour? A spanking? No Christmas cookies? Not being allowed to open their own presents? But their desire to show their siblings that they were more than just the goo boys drove them to the closed doors. With much fear and trembling they tugged. At first they would not open. They acted together and finally the doors slipped into their pockets in the wall. Before them lay…all of Christmas. A strange family lay huddled together on the floor near the Christmas tree. A mother, a father, and three children. They had fallen on unfortunate times and been evicted from their home. Their father had gone out in the night to bring them back to this home, making room in the inn.
And the goo boys knew in their hearts that they had found the real Christmas. When the rest of the family awakened and came down the stairs, they discovered the goo boys making trips back and forth from the kitchen. They fed those without the cinnamon rolls that Mommy baked each and every Christmas. And they brought the bowl of oranges that came from their uncle in Florida and made certain that each and every one was fed. They took presents from the pile and took down the stockings and shared what they had. For this was truly Christmas for the goo boys…
I’m Jack Goo. Grace and peace.
Words are magic and writers are wizards.