Day 1 • Day 2 • Day 3 • Day 4 • Day 5 • Day 6 • Day 7 • Day 8 • Day 9 • Day 10 • Day 11 • Day 12
Finally, the last day of Christmas. It couldn't get here soon enough.
Somewhere around Day 3 or 4, Denise started telling me how great the 12th gift was going to be. How it would make up for everything. I didn’t doubt her for a second. After that initial second, however, I doubted her many, many times. There was no way one gift could make up for all I’d been through over the preceding eleven days. Still, she insisted, so I agreed to take a half-day and be back home for when the gift arrived at one o’clock.
On the way to work I dropped off the last two hens, minus their outfits, at a local dairy farm. We'd run out of money to feed the other twenty-two people in our house, so Denise and I both believed this was the only way we could protect the hens from an untimely (yet tasty) demise. Throughout the morning my stomach was in knots as I envisioned what horrors might await me back at the house, but I still signed off at noon and drove home.
When the doorbell rang, I was upstairs. Denise blindfolded me, then guided me to the living room, careful to maneuver around all the new pipes the Scots had installed on the first floor overnight. Then she whipped off the blindfold, and there, standing before me, were twelve blue men. Not smurfs, not a dozen Paul Giamatti impersonators, but actual Blue Men. Denise had hired four trios of the Blue Man Group. I eagerly took my seat as they carried in the last of their props.
A few years ago I went into New York to see a Blue Man show, and let me tell you, compared to this that was utter rubbish. The twelve performers drummed rhythmically on the massive tangle of pipes with such precision, with such finesse, it was as if the pipers had constructed the plumbing specifically for such an occasion.1 The Blue Men’s comic timing was impeccable, and the entire show came together so wonderfully that I never would have guessed the four groups had never performed with each other before. In such an intimate setting, every beat on every pipe and every drum resonated in our very bones, and it was such a captivating experience we hardly noticed when two windows had shattered, or that every surface in the house was being spattered mercilessly with fluorescent paint as they banged on their drums. ‘Twas the most spectacular show Denise or I have ever seen.
Pa rum pa pum pum.
Of course, not everyone was as enthralled as we. Shortly after the pipers’ dramatic exit, the paint started flying, and the dancers fled the scene to shield their Victorian attire. Also, when one of the Blue Men began using the turtle shells as bongos, both doves struggled their way out of them and flew off — albeit with difficulty, as their wings had atrophied — through one of the shattered windows.
The performance lasted two hours, and by the end we were exhausted but euphoric. We thanked the Blue Men profusely, and waved as they raced off to return to their home cities for that night’s shows. Four maids, having finally finished their drinks, also chose this time to take their leave.
Upon re-entering the house, we were accosted by Lord Vader, who pronounced that he had been visited in the night by the holographs of three jedis, and wished to change his wicked ways. Wanting to make up for his disgraceful behavior thus far, he asked if he might cook us dinner, then before we could stop him, he summoned his minions to get him “the biggest goose in the village.” They returned from the basement a minute later with one of the bricklaying geese (deceased). Vader set to cooking it, then made some side dishes from what little food we had left in the cupboards, and carved the bird with a light saber. We were joined at dinner by Michael Flatley and the one remaining maid, who somehow still had a few drops of beer left in her glass from four days prior. It was a delightful dinner; the goose was succulent, the entire meal exquisite, and it turns out Vader and I have a mutual hatred for Alderaan.
As dinner ended, a group of guys wearing uniforms from Jim’s Plumbing charged into the house unannounced and darted into the basement. They re-emerged carrying the three parrots, all squawking their heads off. One guy flashed an FBI badge and explained that Don Pappagallo and his two accomplices were being apprehended on the charge of racketeering. As they escorted the parrot don out the door, he yelled, “Ya set me up, Flatley! Yer dead!”
After dessert,2 we gave our guests the last three geese (two bricklayers, one tile) as parting gifts, and bid Lord Vader, Michael Flatley, and the final maid (whose last drop of beer had just evaporated) adieu. Denise and I watched them go, and I knew we were both thinking the exact same thing:
Best. Christmas. Ever.
Back inside, we surveyed the damage. There were pipes and paint everywhere. And I mean everywhere. Shattered windows, cracks in the foundation, a plethora of goose poop... It was as if the set of Double Dare had exploded inside our house. Downstairs, the basement hatch was completely bricked in, and the entire floor was haphazardly covered in dingy 70s-era tile.
Out back, the swans were gone, probably scared off by the afternoon's drumming and now flying south in search of warmer weather.3 There's also a large mound in the back corner of the yard where three lords had been buried in a pauper’s grave.4
It was pretty clear what we had to do. In fact, there was only one thing to do: burn the place to the ground and start over with the insurance money.
We also agreed on one other thing... In the future, our Christmas will last only one day. We’ll celebrate it together, without pipers or lords or any sort of poultry. It’ll just be me, Denise, the dog and cat, and Danny Bonaduce. In a pear tree.
1 The pipers had not constructed the plumbing for just such an occasion. Two minutes into the performance, all eleven of the surly Scots stormed out in a huff, screaming about “such a careless disregard for quality craftsmanship,” and how we could “expect to hear from the Pipers’ Union about this.” Whatever.
2 One Saltine each, all we had left.
3 Or the nearest YMCA with a pool.
4 No, I won't tell you why I had a pauper buried in my back yard. Just know this: He deserved it.