Santa landed on the roof, cussing all the way.
#$!& it Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid and Rudolph; I don’t know why the %$##+ you have to land so hard.”
Bye and bye, Santa, after having cursed the reindeers, most particularly Rudolph (something to do with his wattage), dismounted from his sled, stomped over to the chimney, tossed his bag, and climbed down.
His disposition did not improve when he saw the plate of cookies and the big glass of milk we had set for him. “@@#!$ of a %#!,” he roared. “I need some spiked eggnog.”
When Santa was done, he put his finger to his nose and ascended the chimney. He leaped into this sled, and off they went; headed for Chicago, the folks at NORAD reported.
Once Santa left in his wake an unassembled bicycle; my dad faced the task of putting it together. He followed the instructions – likely, prepared by a sadistic engineer – at first cheerfully.
Our home, built in 1876 – drafty, resting on river rock – was a creature of uneven floors; creaked and groaned at night. The second floor, originally an attic, was populated by a rolling, wide planked floor.
Heat – what little there was of it – perked through open registers carved in the floor. The temperature upstairs hovered around freezing in winter, which necessitated the ample use of covers.
Mother would use a flatiron on the sheets before tucking us into bed. It shook off the cold, generally, until we had fallen to sleep. Getting out of bed in the middle of the night risked frostbite.
But, we were not deterred on Christmas Eve. We had our doubts about Santa, but understood he did not assemble bicycles and other gifts that would not fit down the chimney.
We knew as much about sex as we did about Santa. It was all a matter of information, mostly faulty. You hear a lot of rumors and speculations on the school playground.
We remained in bed until we heard dad getting mad. A man of ferocious temper; a child of the Great Depression; a hardened railroader; a man mathematically gifted; yet buffaloed by directions.
We gathered around the register and listened to dad rage. He was a profound dispenser of obscenities. In all my 76 years, I have yet to hear a new cuss word. In desperation, I have scanned the internet; ventured into the seediest bars in my search.
The way I figure it, if I could find a new cussword, I would be held in high esteem by my peers. ###%!, I might even run for president. People like cuss words; we might as well admit it.
Preachers, I suspect, are as guilty as the rest of us; though they do it mostly in private, human nature being what it is. Why, I have even heard my dog cuss. Doubt me? When Rover whines and ventures mild growls, have you ever considered it?
Dad finished his task at last and his dark mood cleared. A bit of eggnog, a few cookies, and he was a new man. We even heard him sing, “We three kings of orient are, puffing on a rubber cigar. It was loaded, it exploded BANG!”
Being a good dad is as much about assembling a bike as an “I love you.”