MURRAY CHRIS MESS by Cherese Cobb

December 20, 2016

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house,
Creatures were stirring, both inside and out.

On top of the roof, nail gun in hand,
Papa devised a spectacular plan;
Why he’d string lights here and throw tinsel there.
He’d outdo his damn neighbors if only he dared.
So, he chugged eggnog, and he tilted his head, eyeing the holy babe he’d steal from its bed.
Pulling a cap over his face, he tiptoed to the wooden fence and unlatched the gate.

Meanwhile, in the living room with scissors and tape,
Nana cursed as she put each ribbon in place,
The wrapping paper sparkled and glinted, but her shakes just never relented.

She rolled her eyes at Granddaddy Nick in his Lazy Boy chair,
with custard still dried in his curly, white hair.
He had cherry cheeks and a giant beer belly that shook, when he snored,
like a bowl full of jelly.

And a cigar barely held in his false teeth spewed smoke that encircled the room like a wreath.
From his head to his feet, he was all furry.
Wearing only a sheet, his eyes were all blurry.
No doubt, he’d downed a six-pack in a hurry.
Mama laughed at Granddaddy, in spite of herself.

With a breathy sigh and a shake of her head,she knew she still had plenty to dread
as visions of her mother-in-law danced in her head.
She scrubbed the whole house down twice with pure bleach,
stuffed the turducken, carved the roast beast,
She hung the stockings by the chimney without care,
knowing her mother-in-law would just replace them once there.

She and Nana checked the bills once and they checked the bills twice,
Thousands in debt, would they be alright?
Tired and tuckered,
Thoroughly beat,
They tossed the bills in the hearth and drifted to sleep.

Then from the roof arose such a clatter,
Granddaddy Nick ran outside buck naked to see what was the matter,
Nana and Mama quickly followed suit,
Even the neighbors flew to their gate in a flash,
They pulled out their phones and clicked on their apps.

On top of the roof, they all expected to hear,
the scraping of eight plastic reindeer.
But, the figures they saw pulling Santa’s sleigh
made their jaws drop like the Times Square Ball
ringing in New Year’s Day.

Why in the bed of the sleigh, poking through Santa’s sack,
a dozen barn animals had been carefully stacked.
Joseph and the Virgin Mary, who was draped in deep blue,
held the reins of the odd Christmas crew:
Three ethnic wise men that no one could name,
And an angel blowing into a candy cane,
At the front of the sleigh, why, who else?
Papa had harnessed the god-child himself.
The Christmas lights on the pure-white snow
shined down on Papa who had fallen below,
Slurring his words,
Swelling with pride,
He shouted, “Murray Chris mess damn neighbors. Have a good-night!”
The neighbors spoke not a word, but went straight to their work,
Tweeting, DM-ing, and YouTubing about their neighbor— the jerk,
The story went viral as comments poured in,
The world wanted to see where the holy family had been.

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Cherese Cobb was raised in Maryville, Tenn.  A graduate of Maryville College, she has a B.A. in psychology and art. A bibliophile, she considers herself a professional student, as she has an insatiable curiosity.  When she’s not writing for newspapers, blogs, or magazines, she splits her time between family, poetry, and cat-worship, and uses coffee to survive all three.

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