Back in the Stone Age, when I was a sophomore in high school, I belonged to a church youth group (called “Kappa,” for some reason). We were a very lively group and sometimes (through no fault of our own, of course) we would get into a teensy bit of trouble.
To offset that image, we agreed to go around singing Christmas carols to “shut-in” seniors. It was a Friday night and freezing cold, in the way that Chicago does so well (around zero). Over our singing we could hear the wind creaking in the black tree branches, which occasionally dumped snow on us. By the time we finally made it to the last house (with the unshovelled walk and stairs), before going back to the church for badly-needed hot chocolate, we were so frozen we could barely move our lips.
This house was a very big, very dark house across the street from Vatman Park in Wilmette. Over the porch a 30-watt bulb dimly burned. Two very old people came to the door — purportedly an ancient brother and sister (she, in a wheelchair) — but actually, Methuselah and his mother.
We sang heartily and ended with “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” But while we were getting around to the “figgy pudding” bit, we got that sinking feeling. Literally.
We were going down with great dignity, like the band on the Titanic, as the termite-riddled porch collapsed around us, making interesting cracking noises. I remember looking up (through large splinters) at the feet of those “shut-ins” and realizing that they were really shut in now.
Both brother and sister were leaning forward at a 45-degree angle, jaws dropped to their shoes, eyes popping out. Notre Dame’s gargoyles had nothing on them!
As we crawled, still singing, out of the wreckage, they hastily retreated in horror back into their house (and shells), while we were overcome with hysterics.
Needless to say, we got no figgy pudding out of that family! Also, the boys had to spend their weekend repairing the porch.
We wish you a Merry Christmas!! Without termites . . .