DOMINICK & PEPPINO

For this week’s challenge on Song Lyric Sunday we’ve been asked to go with novelty songs. I wanted to select two songs that I think some of us more mature bloggers may know, especially those of us of Italian descent.

The first song is “Dominick the Donkey” sung by Lou Monte, a funny sing-along Christmas record first recorded in 1960. It was brought to modern audiences in 2011, especially in the UK where Chris Moyles gave it regular play on his BBC Radio 1 breakfast show. In the run-up to Christmas of that year, the song reached #3 in the Christmas 2011 UK singles chart. Though “Dominic the Donkey” reached #3 in the UK, it never charted in the US.

Three years later, Lou Monte saw success with “Peppino, the Italian Mouse” another novelty song which peaked at #5 in the US. It had entered the Billboard Hot Top 100 Chart on December 2, 1962 and spent 10 weeks on the Top 100.

Here for your enjoyment are both songs.

Hey! Chingedy ching,
(hee-haw, hee-haw)
It’s Dominick the donkey.
Chingedy ching,
(hee-haw, hee-haw)
The Italian Christmas donkey.
(la la la-la la-la la la la la)
(la la la-la la-la la-ee-oh-da)


Santa’s got a little friend,
His name is Dominick.
The cutest little donkey,
You never see him kick.
When Santa visits his paisons,
With Dominick he’ll be.
Because the reindeer cannot,
Climb the hills of Italy.


Hey! Chingedy ching,
(hee-haw, hee-haw)
It’s Dominick the donkey.
Chingedy ching,
(hee-haw, hee-haw)
The Italian Christmas donkey.
(la la la-la la-la la la la la)
(la la la-la la-la la-ee-oh-da)


Jingle bells around his feet,
And presents on the sled.
Hey! Look at the mayor’s derby,
On top of Dominick’s head.
A pair of shoes for Louie,
And a dress for Josephine.
The labels on the inside says,
They’re made in Brooklyn.


Hey! Chingedy ching,
(hee-haw, hee-haw)
It’s Dominick the donkey.
Chingedy ching,
(hee-haw, hee-haw)
The Italian Christmas donkey.
(la la la-la la-la la la la la)
(la la la-la la-la la-ee-oh-da)


Children sing, and clap their hands,
And Dominick starts to dance.
They talk Italian to him,
And he even understands.

Cumpare sing,
Cumpare su,
And dance ‘sta tarantel.
When jusamagora comes to town,
And brings do ciuccianello.


Hey! Chingedy ching,
(hee-haw, hee-haw)
It’s Dominick the donkey.
Chingedy ching,
(hee-haw, hee-haw)
The Italian Christmas donkey.
(la la la-la la-la la la la la)
(la la la-la la-la la-ee-oh-da)

Hey! Dominick

Writer/s: Ray Allen, Sam Saltzberg, Wandra Merrell 
Publisher: Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
Lyrics licensed and provided 
by LyricFind

Pepino, oh, you little mouse, oh, won’t you go away
Find yourself another house to run around and play
You scare my girl, you eat my cheese, you even drink my wine
I try so hard to catch you but you trick me all the time

Cesta no surecillo a basoccella dinda mur
Ogna sere quella esce quanda casa scura
Endo dindo la cucina balla sulasu
A parrano malandrino pura un gabo sapaur

Pepino suracill ana parta scubari
Managa suracill a casa ma dai
Stasira da cucina nu poco di vino ci au lasciar
A quando si briaggo a Pepino giong apa

The other night, I called my girl
I asked her could we meet
I said, “Let’s go to my house
We could have a bite to eat”

And as we walked in through the door
She screamed at what she saw
There was little Pepino
Doin’ the cha, cha on the floor

Pepino suracill ana parta scubari
Managa suracill a casa ma dai
Stasira da cucina nu poco di vino ci au lasciar
A quando si briaggo a Pepino giong apa

Quella non ci piace u formaggio American
Quella va trova no poca Parmesan
La fatto ghiata ghiat gusto ena cor
Quando cella camina para probino caladur

Pepino suracill ana parta scubari
Managa suracill a casa ma dai
Stasira da cucina nu poco di vino ci au lasciar
A quando si briaggo a Pepino giong apa

Source: LyricFind

Songwriters: Ray Allen / Wandra Merrell

Pepino The Italian Mouse lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

NAR © 2022

YES, VIRGINIA

Preface: All this month I gave a lot of thought to writing the “Great American Christmas Story”. I began more drafts than I can count and deleted them all; I just wasn’t feeling it. When my grandchildren began asking if Santa was real, I remembered the true story of an 8-year-old girl named Virginia O’Hanlon who wrote a letter to her local newspaper asking that very question. The newspaper’s editor, Francis Pharcellus Church, felt compelled to respond to Virginia’s letter in the form of a feature article. His ‘letter’ to Virginia contains an amazing message, a poignant gift to share with young and old alike. It’s an inspiring response and truly makes one stop, think and assess what’s important in life.

I realized that’s exactly what I wanted to convey in my story but Mr. Church beat me to it and in a much more eloquent way.

I hope during this holiday season you’ve had a chance to reflect on some cherished Christmas memories. There are so many magical moments during Christmas that really do make it the most wonderful time of the year. Isn’t it a pity the special and unique love we feel for one another during Christmas starts to evaporate shortly after the holidays?

Life is often not fair nor is it easy. There’s a lot of discord in the world, too much hatred, unhappiness and suffering. Sometimes just putting one foot in front of the other can be a monumental task, especially after the last two years. We need something to cling to, to believe in and to help us remember what Christmas was like when we were 8-years-old.

I hope you find Mr. Church’s response to Virginia’s question enlightening, captivating and heartwarming. This is how it appeared in The New York Sun on September 21, 1897; I think you’ll agree it’s as appropriate and meaningful today as it was 124 years ago.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

NAR © 2021

A ROLL OF THE DICE

It was a picture-perfect day just before Christmas, 2001; not a cloud in the sky. My husband Bill and I were returning from a two-night stay at Foxwoods, a casino located in Ledyard, Connecticut. It was a two-and-a-half-hour drive and we were enjoying the scenery and each other’s company. We fared well at the tables and were in good spirits, listening to the radio and discussing where we should stop for lunch. It was a fun get-away before the rush of Christmas.

The ride was smooth – clear sailing as far as we could see. I was driving at a fairly decent clip in the middle lane of a three-lane highway. As we rounded a slight bend in the road, we were startled to find the traffic had come to a stand-still. My vantage point had been cut off and I was completely caught off guard. Bill yelled “Watch out!” and I slammed on the brakes of my RAV4 hoping to avoid hitting any cars in front of me. In doing so, I swerved wildly and the rear end of my car fish-tailed out to the right. The car was now at a 45º angle. I was able to avoid crashing into any cars in front of me and I struggled to straighten out my car but the guy behind me came barrelling down the highway, slamming full force into the driver’s side rear quarter panel of my car.

Unless you’ve experienced a crash of that magnitude, it’s impossible to describe the impact; I never felt pressure like that before and it’s easy to see how the force could result in someone sustaining severe whiplash, a broken neck or worse. At that moment everything switched to slow motion, like we were floating in space. Acting on reflex, Bill raised his right arm above his head to protect himself.

We glanced at each other quizzically with that WTF look in our eyes as my car rolled over once, twice, three times then landed upright with a mighty thud like a miniature Sherman Tank on the right shoulder of the highway. It’s miraculous that no other cars hit us as we rolled over to the side of the road. How the hell did my car manage to land on its tires? Thank God it did; I can’t imagine what it would have been like landing upside down, the roof smashed in, dangling from our seat belts. What seemed like an eternity probably took all of five seconds. The guy who hit us was stranded in the middle of the highway, the front end of his car smashed in. We learned later that his car was a rental and the driver had no insurance.

Immediately upon settling, there was a tremendous whooshing sound as the sunroof caved in on us; we were showered with fragments of glass, dirt and gravel which the car must have scooped up as it rolled over. The safety glass of the windshield was totally shattered but did not fall apart or crumble into the car, seemingly held together by some sort of invisible industrial-strength tape. My only injury was a whacked left knee, probably because I had a death grip on the steering wheel the entire time. Bill wasn’t so lucky; his raised hand did little to protect him. His head was cut and bleeding and the index finger of his raised hand had a deep gash. His hand had also been badly jammed as we rolled over, sending shock waves of intense pain from his fingers all the way up his arm, into his shoulder and neck.

To say we were stunned would be a huge understatement. This was something we saw on TV; it didn’t happen to us. We became aware of the high-pitched “beep beep” of a tractor trailer truck approaching us in reverse. The truck driver witnessed the accident, pulled off the road and backed up to see if we were alright. Of all the vehicles on the road at that moment, only one person stopped to check on us. Jumping out of the cab of his rig, the trucker told us not to move while he called for help.

Within minutes we were surrounded by police cars, fire engines and ambulances. The doors of my RAV had to be pried open so we could be extricated safely; I was able to walk to the ambulance but Bill was strapped onto a gurney. He was covered with a blanket, still unable to lower his arm. It was a surreal sight watching him being lifted into the ambulance and I heard him yell out in pain as his fingers brushed against the roof of the vehicle. I didn’t even look back at my car as we were whisked away to a local hospital.

After being examined, I was told I had no serious injuries but Bill needed X-rays and an MRI. The cut on his head was stapled and bandaged; his lacerated finger was sutured and placed in a finger splint. The MRI revealed a pinched nerve which was preventing him from lowering his arm. The poor guy was in agony and the doctors talked about keeping him overnight. The last thing Bill wanted was to be admitted to an unfamiliar hospital and he made that perfectly clear to me and the doctors. They insisted he stay for at least a few hours for observation but after that, if they thought he was stable enough for the ride back to New York, they would not keep him against his will. Bill was worried about me but I assured him I was fine. He asked me where my car was and I feebly replied that I didn’t know. That’s when I realized I needed to take action; first on the list was to track down my wrecked car and all our belongings.

I was running on nothing but shock and adrenaline; the only reason I didn’t collapse from the trauma was because I knew I had to get things done. I must have looked a mess with ripped clothes and my hair full of road debris but I didn’t care. It’s amazing what’s important and what isn’t when your back is against the wall; it’s called survival.

The first thing I did was call the police station to find out where my car had been towed; all our luggage, including the money we won at the casino, was in the car along with the usual stuff people keep in their vehicles – everything from important car documents to extra packets of ketchup. Once I found out where my car was impounded, I asked someone at the nurse’s station for the phone number of a taxi company to take me to the salvage yard. When the taxi showed up, I was more than a little surprised to see it was a stretch limo. The driver told me he had a lot of upcoming jobs transporting people to and from Christmas events and he had just picked up the limousine.

When we arrived at the junk yard, I explained to the people in the tiny cubicle of an office who I was and why I was there; I was greeted with shocked silence and slack-jawed expressions. Finally the hush was broken when the manager pointed out the window to my RAV4 and said “You mean to tell me that’s your car? We didn’t think anyone walked away from that accident!”

We walked over to what was once my beautiful car. What I saw before me was a heap of mangled metal and broken glass. Had it not been for my ‘vanity plates’, I would not have believed that was my car. I stared at the wreckage in bewilderment; how were we alive?

Once the reality hit me, my knees buckled and I held onto the car to steady myself. The people from the junk yard gathered several boxes for me and the taxi driver helped me get everything out of the car. He removed my license plates and checked all the compartments to make sure we got everything. I don’t know how much I could have done without him. Satisfied that the car was empty, the driver loaded the boxes into the trunk of the limo and we returned to the hospital.

On the ride back I told the driver, whose name I found out was Yosef, about the accident and that Bill was hurt, unable to lower his arm. Yosef asked me where we lived and how I planned to get home. When I told him I hadn’t thought about that yet, he offered to drive us home. What?! It was almost three hours to New York and another three hours back, but he didn’t balk. He said it was the perfect solution; all our stuff from my car was already in the limo and there was plenty of room for Bill to lie down comfortably on the spacious sofa-like seat in the back.

This man, a total stranger, was willing to wait as long as it took to get us safely home. I accepted his kind offer and slumped down onto a chair in the hospital waiting room. I had to call our sons at home to tell them what happened. They were understandably concerned and wanted to drive up to Connecticut to bring us home but I told them it was all arranged; I just wanted them to stay put and be safe. I didn’t even realize Yosef had disappeared until he returned with a bagel and a cup of coffee for me. I couldn’t believe how kind that man was and I thanked him saying the food would help with my pounding headache. As if by magic, Yosef produced a couple of Advil. I looked up at him and he was smiling, one gold tooth sparkling in the bright hospital lights. At that moment he looked just like a guardian angel.

I must have dozed off in the waiting room. When I woke up I was under a warm blanket, my head resting on a soft pillow – definitely not hospital issue. A bit dazed, I glanced around the room; there was Yosef sitting in the corner, talking on his cell phone. He saw me and gave a little wave. I ran my hand over the blanket, my eyes asking if he had provided it; Yosef smiled and gave me a thumbs up. I silently mouthed the words “thank you” and held my clenched fist against my heart.

I checked my phone, surprised to see that two hours had gone by. A nurse came into the waiting room; I recognized her as one of the nurses who had been taking care of Bill. She asked me to go with her and I followed her to one of the many curtained-off beds in the ER. Bill was lying on his back, his arm still up but bent at the elbow with his bandaged hand behind his head. The doctor explained to me that he gave Bill a strong shot of Demerol and a muscle relaxant. He was able to gently manipulate Bill’s arm into a more comfortable position but he would need physical therapy to gain full range of motion. By the look on Bill’s face, it was obvious the meds were doing their job; he was pretty out of it. The doctor gave me two prescriptions to have filled when we returned home and said that Bill was free to go. He also advised me to get the prescriptions filled as soon as possible; Bill would definitely be needing them once the initial dose began to wear off.

With some assistance Bill was able to get into a wheelchair and escorted to the ER waiting room where Yosef greeted us. It wasn’t easy but we managed to make Bill comfortable in the spacious rear section of the limo; even in his drugged condition he was impressed with the car. There were bottles of water in the mini-fridge and more of Yosef’s blankets and pillows to make the ride home as cushioned as possible. Once we knew Bill was secure, we began our journey back.

Yosef suggested we stop at the nearest CVS Pharmacy to get the prescriptions filled. Since the meds were “controlled substances”, the script would only be valid in the issuing state; I wouldn’t be able to get Bill’s meds in New York – something I didn’t think of. Once again Yosef came to my rescue and we stopped at CVS before continuing our trip.

We rode in silence for a little while, then I thanked Yosef for the blankets and pillows. He said “it was nothing”; he had gone home while I was napping in the ER, told his wife Zeynep what was going on and she insisted he take the pillows and blankets with him. That gave me an opening to find out a little more about this Good Samaritan who crossed my path that day.

Yosef and Zeynep were married for only a short time when the Iraqi Kurdish Civil war broke out in 1994.  He talked quietly about the war and the horrors he witnessed. He swore that if he and his bride made it out safely he would strive to help anyone in need whenever he could. With the assistance of American forces, he and Zeynep were able to escape their town of Diyarbakir in Turkey. They made it to Greece, then on through Italy, France and finally to England where Zeynep had relatives in Birmingham. They stayed in England for several months, then decided to emigrate to The States, settling in Connecticut. The couple found work in a small Turkish restaurant and when Zeynep became pregnant and could no longer work, Yosef took on a second job as a taxi driver. He said they had two little girls – Aiyla and Esana – the treasures of his life.

Just then my stomach growled and I realized I hadn’t had anything to eat all day except a bagel and coffee. Yosef said there was a basket with some food in the back of the limo and I should help myself. Zeynep had prepared black olives, hummus, ekmek flatbread and a thermos of black tea. Yosef said it was the perfect food for travelers – something that was easy to carry and provided sustenance as well as comfort. I sat near Bill and ate my meal with gratitude for this stranger who found me at a time when I desperately needed help.

I asked Yosef what his name meant; he replied “God increases”. How very fitting. He went on to say that Zeynep meant “precious gem”, Esana meant “safeguard” and Aiyla meant “moonlight”. I scribbled everything Yosef told me on a paper napkin. Maybe it was my imagination working overtime or the fact that Christmas was just days away but those names made me think of the birth of Jesus and what Christmas was really all about.

Yosef asked me the meaning of our names; I explained that Bill was short for William which meant “strong-willed warrior” and my name, Nancy, meant “filled with grace”. Yosef thought they suited us; I thought that day they couldn’t have been more appropriate.

The ride was uneventful and time passed quickly. Before I knew it, Yosef had delivered us safely home. Together with the help of my sons, Yosef managed to get Bill from the car into the house. Bill was awake now but groggy and he reached for Yosef’s hand. With a voice heavy with emotion Bill whispered “Thank you for everything”. Smiling, Yosef nodded and wished Bill well.

My sons brought the boxes into our house and I walked with Yosef to his car. I took some money out of my coat pocket to pay him for everything he had done – if one could even put a price on all he did. He covered my hands with his saying “No, please. I did not do this for money. I truly believe there was a reason I received your call for help – to aid you in your time of distress. Seeing you safely home is all the reward I need.” I was overcome with emotion and humility and I impulsively hugged Yosef. I wasn’t at all embarrassed by my actions or that my face was streaked with tears of gratitude.

I croaked out a heartfelt “Thank you, Yosef. God bless you and your family. Merry Christmas”. He smiled and replied “God’s blessings on you, Nancy filled with grace”.

I stood outside my house as Yosef drove away, watching the taillights of the limo disappear down the street. I looked up at the pale moon; to the north was a dazzlingly bright star shining in the black sky.

It was a cold night but my heart was glowing. I truly felt like “Nancy filled with grace”.

What was left of my car

This is a true account of a terrifying situation; we will never forget that accident 20 years ago today. God was watching over us.

A big shout-out to the caring trucker, whoever you are. Huge thanks to all the incredible emergency and medical personnel who cared for us.

Blessings upon blessings forever to Yosef, Zeynep, Ailya and Esana. Yosef – there are no adequate words to express our gratitude. You are a giant among men.

Sincere good wishes to all who read this. May you have a wondrous Christmas!

NAR © 2021

I’M ONLY SLEEPING

Where am I? What’s happening? I thought I heard screams in the night. Could I have been dreaming?

I’m supposed to be sleeping, waiting for the Spring. It’s too soon to be warming up like this. My lower extremities are aching as though someone as been tugging on them but I’m not in pain. Some of my friends have suffered excruciating agony.

My limbs feel a little heavy and there’s a slight pressure on my head. I can hear faint voices now. It’s hard to make out the words but they sound like “brilliant”, “wonderful idea”. What does it all mean? What is a wonderful idea?

I have no clue how much time has passed; I think only a week or so but I’m very tired. I need to sleep.

Now it feels like I’m being carried somewhere; I’m a little afraid. What’s happening to me? Am I being placed in a hole? I can feel something familiar and soothing covering my base and I smell the crisp outdoors. I detect the fragrance of fresh soil.

I’m feeling a chill again; that warming sensation is passing. It feels like I’m bound up but I’m comfortable – like being enveloped in a blanket of snow. I feel safe, as though in a cocoon.

Thank you for not taking an ax to me. Thank you for digging me up and keeping me alive. I will grow strong in your yard in the Spring.

It was a joy spending Christmas with you!

I’m not dead; I’m only sleeping.

One of the saddest things is seeing all the dead and forgotten Christmas trees discarded after the season.
Next time you go looking for a Christmas tree, consider buying one with its root ball intact;
you can replant it in your yard
or place it in a pot.
It gave you so much joy
during the holidays;
why not give it a chance to live!

NAR © 2021

CANDLE IN THE WINDOW

One of the first things I noticed about the house across the street was the candle in an upstairs window.

It was December 1980 – two weeks before Christmas – and we had just moved into our new home. My mom quickly located the boxes marked ‘CHRISTMAS LIGHTS’ and put my dad to work decorating outside. When he was done every house on the street was aglow except for the one with the solitary candle.

I was fascinated by that candle; it was lit twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. When I told my dad I was afraid the house would burn down, he assured me that the candle was either electric or battery-operated; the ‘flame’ didn’t flicker and the candle never melted. That made me feel a lot better.

About a week later there was a knock on our front door. Mom answered and I scurried along behind her, anxious to see who was visiting us for the first time. Standing on the front porch was a chubby little old lady with silver hair, twinkling eyes and rosy cheeks and I couldn’t resist blurting out “Are you Mrs. Claus?” She chuckled a bit saying no, she was Mrs. Granger from across the street and had come to bring us an angel food cake as a welcoming gift. Mom introduced herself and invited Mrs. Granger inside but she declined saying “perhaps another time”. Before she left I told her my name was Eleanor and I had just turned ten on December 1. She smiled slightly at us but there was sadness in her eyes.

Mrs. Granger’s angel food cake sat on one of her beautiful Spode Christmas plates. Mom said we should return the plate on Christmas Day brimming with sugar cookies, which is exactly what we did. We rang the bell and mom apologized for showing up unannounced, adding that she hoped we weren’t interrupting her Christmas festivities.

No, dear. Not at all. I was just preparing myself one of those frozen TV dinners – turkey, for a special treat.” Mom made polite small talk while I glanced around the living room. There wasn’t a single Christmas decoration in sight, not even a card. A fading ember in the fireplace made me think that Mrs. Granger was probably very lonely.

I suddenly found myself asking the question: “Mrs. Granger, why is there a candle in the window upstairs?”

Mom gave me a withering look as Mrs. Granger slowly walked to the sofa and slumped down. I felt awful when she started crying, dabbing her eyes with a lacy handkerchief. Mom sat next to her and held her hand, not speaking.

In hushed tones Mrs. Granger told us her story: she married late in life and was blessed with a son, Edward. Her husband died in an accident when Edward was three years old and she raised the boy by herself. When the U.S. entered the Vietnam War, Edward enlisted; he was declared MIA on December 1, 1970 and she hadn’t heard a word in the ten years since then. The candle in the window was her way of holding vigil for Edward, steadfastly waiting for any news. We sat together for a few minutes, then Mrs. Granger politely said she wanted to be alone. Silently we left. It was then that I understood why she looked so sad when I told her my birthday – the dreadful day her son went missing.

Two days later mom returned to Mrs. Granger’s. She apologized for the intrusion on Christmas Day and said we hoped she would join us for New Year’s Day dinner. Mrs. Granger said gently “No, dear. I haven’t celebrated a new year since Edward disappeared.”

All week I thought about Mrs. Granger. Our New Year’s Day table was set for three, sparkling with mom’s best dishes, silverware and crystal glasses. I sat in the bay window watching the lightly falling snow; then I noticed the candle in the window of Mrs. Granger’s house was not lit.

Mom!” I gasped. “The candle is out.”

Mom, dad and I walked across the street on leaden feet. Mom rapped softly on the door; we could see a dim glow coming from the fireplace. One more knock and the door opened slightly; Mrs. Granger appeared, her face wet with tears.

Are you alright, Mrs. Granger?” mom inquired with obvious concern in her voice.

Oh, my dear! My mind has been preoccupied all day” she replied, her voice trembling. “You see, I received some news today.”

Mrs. Granger turned and walked back inside, leaving the door ajar; apprehensively we followed her. By the fireplace stood a smiling soldier; her long-lost son Edward had finally returned home.

Mrs. Granger

NAR © 2021

EXTRA X CHROMOSOME

CHIMERA TORTOISESHELL KITTENS
AVAILABLE FOR ADOPTION!
COME IN – ASK FOR LEAH

Gary did a double-take when he saw the sign on the marquee outside Redemption Ecclesiastical Church. He’d always been fascinated by those distinctively mottled cats with an extra X chromosome. Gary supported humane societies, not pet stores. He knew people paid a lot of money for pets, especially the designer dogs some breeders ‘manufacture’ such as Labradoodles and Yorkipoos.

Not hesitating for a second, Gary walked inside and knocked on the open door of an office marked ‘Communities Outreach Program’. A pleasant voice rang out “Come on in! I’ll be right there.”

Glancing around the room Gary noticed a large bulletin board full of colorful flyers about the church’s events: the weekly Advent wreath candle lighting ceremony, the upcoming Christmas pageant, a clothing drive for the homeless and a sign-up sheet to volunteer at the local soup kitchen.

Hi! You must be Sam. The delivery is all ready for you.”

Gary found himself face to face with the most adorable woman he had ever seen. She was casually dressed in jeans, a Christmas sweater and a Santa hat; her short blonde hair barely reached her shoulders. Dark-rimmed glasses couldn’t hide her luminous green eyes and her infectious smile displayed sparkling white teeth. Even without makeup she was radiant.

Somewhat dumbstruck, Gary said “Um, hi. I’m Gary, not Sam and I don’t know anything about a delivery. I’m looking for Leah.”

I’m Leah. Sorry, there appears to be a mix-up. I’ve been waiting for a guy named Sam to deliver a truckload of groceries to the soup kitchen. I thought you were him.” Leah frowned.

Actually, I’m here because I saw the sign about the kittens for adoption” Gary admitted rather sheepishly, wishing he was there for something more altruistic – like making a soup kitchen delivery.

Oh, shoot! I forgot that sign was still up!” exclaimed Leah. “I’m sorry but the kittens were all snatched up except for the runt of the litter. Poor little thing – I took her home. She’s keeping my cat Othello company – not that he’s thrilled about it.”

Gary was visibly disappointed. “Oh, man! I was excited about adopting a cat. Well, I guess it wasn’t meant to be. I’ll get out of your hair now, Leah … unless I can help with something.”

Leah checked her watch; it was getting late and it looked like Sam was a no-show. Gary seemed like a trustworthy guy so she took a chance. Besides, he was wearing a Santa hat, too; if you can’t trust a cute guy in a Santa hat, who can you trust? “Well, if you wouldn’t mind I could use a hand delivering those groceries.”

Why not!” Gary answered – a bit too quickly. “I don’t have anything else to do now anyway.”

Great!” Leah answered – a bit too quickly. “You’re a lifesaver, Gary! And I’m really sorry about the kittens.”

On the way to the soup kitchen, Leah and Gary chatted non-stop and discovered they had a lot in common. They were both decent people who enjoyed doing volunteer work, they loved animals and they were hopeless romantics. What could have been a boring night turned into a wonderful evening and they thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company.

When the delivery was done, Leah said “Gary, I want to thank you for all your help tonight. I know you were really hoping to adopt a kitten. How about we make that happen?”

Gary was blown away. “Leah, I didn’t help you because I hoped to be rewarded with a kitten. I really like you and was happy to help. But if you’re serious, then yes – that would make my day!”

I really like you, too, Gary.” Leah blushed. “I just have to warn you: watch out for Othello. He doesn’t like strangers and is pretty territorial. In fact, he barely tolerates me and that’s because I feed him!” Leah laughed.

To Gary’s ears Leah’s laugh sounded like crystal bells.

Arriving at Leah’s place, Gary was too excited to worry about Othello. He was enchanted by the tiny chimera kitten and gently picked her up. He sat on the sofa, cradling her in his arms. Leah’s heart melted watching the two of them.

I’ll go make some coffee” Leah suggested. “You be nice, Othello!”

Out of the corner of his eye Gary saw a large cat in the hallway giving him the evil eye. “Ah, you must be Othello” he whispered. “Look man – please don’t blow this for me, dude. I’ve really fallen for Leah and just between us guys, I think she likes me, too.” Othello crept closer and sniffed Gary’s shoes. Placing his front paws on the sofa he stared intently at Gary, then nonchalantly jumped up and made himself comfortable leaning against Gary’s leg purring contentedly.

Well, how do you like that!” Leah declared in pleasant surprise. “Othello’s taken a liking to you, too, Gary. I think we made a match here tonight.”

Yeah, I think we really did, Leah. And I have the perfect name for this little lady. Leah, say hello to Desdemona.”

Ah, Othello and Desdemona, Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers – but this time with a very happy ending” Leah sighed as she snuggled close to Gary.

Othello

NAR © 2020

THE PEPPERMINT TWIST

I had been making eye contact all night with the ridiculously gorgeous bartender at my Christmas party so I was pleased to see her lingering behind after the last guest left. I was captivated by this amazing looking creature. Lustrous dark hair framed her perfect face and caressed her shoulders. Her skin was radiant with a glowing tan and her lips were full, revealing sparking teeth when she smiled. But the most striking feature was her eyes – piercing crystal blue.

She wore high heeled sandals and a short dress of gossamer silver lamé – spaghetti straps, low-scooped neckline and backless – leaving no doubt she was without bra or panties. She was innately arousing and bewitching.

This was my first Christmas party since my divorce. My ex got our Manhattan apartment and I got our Miami condo.

Truthfully, I much prefer Christmas in NY; Miami’s just too damn hot. I made sure everything was perfect – the food, the booze, the waitstaff and, of course, the bartender. She worked independently and was highly recommended by my friend. I could see why. I knew nothing but her first name – Alexandra.   

So now here it was around 2:00 AM; Alexandra and I were alone, the guests and hired help long gone. Sipping my drink, I  looked out the open window at the twinkling Christmas lights on the street below while Alexandra finished up at the bar. 

Join me for a nightcap?” I asked. 

She smiled, poured herself a Smirnoff peppermint vodka and joined me at the window. We stood in silence watching the lights in the distance, the seductive Miami air washing over us. Her hair smelled of gardenias and I impulsively reached out to caress the silken tresses. She leaned into me and I buried my face in her hair, inhaling the intoxicating aroma. 

She turned to me and I cupped her face in my hands, rubbing my thumb slowly across her parted lips. I kissed her deeply, delighting in the sweet taste of peppermint. We silently stared into each other’s eyes as she took a step backwards. Slowly she slid her fingers under the straps of her dress. I watched mesmerized as the shimmering fabric slid to the floor like a wounded butterfly. 

She stood motionless, the amber light from the bar casting provocative shadows across her body. She was exquisite. Stepping over her discarded dress, Alexandra slowly walked toward me. I scooped her up in my arms and carried her to the sofa. She was delicious, the sex incredible, like nothing I ever experienced. 

Afterwards, I reluctantly got up and went to the bar for drinks. Suddenly I felt a searing pain in my head and collapsed, catching a fleeting glimpse of silver lamé. When I finally came to, I had a blinding headache, there was a broken vodka bottle on the floor, my wallet and Rolex were gone and my wall safe was empty. 

That little sexy bitch had pulled off the perfect heist. Merry Fucking Christmas to me! 

NAR © 2018

CHRISTMAS MUNCHKINS

It had been a busy night at my bar and I was cleaning up after the last guest left. It was Christmas Eve and most people headed out a little early to get home or do last-minute shopping. I locked up, turned off the lights and went upstairs to the apartment I shared with my wife Nicole and our little girl Mariah. 

It was quiet in our apartment but I could see a dim light coming from Mariah’s room. I peeked in to see my girls saying their evening prayers. My daughter’s sweet voice was hushed but I heard her say “And God, please tell Santa the only thing I really want for Christmas is a kitty”. 

I sat in the living room staring at the Christmas tree. Nicole came in and sat beside me. “You heard?” I nodded and said “You know, Nic, she’s such a good girl, never asks us for anything. I have to see if I can find her a kitten.” 

“At this hour? Where are you going to go?” 

“Honestly, I have no idea – but I have to try.” 

Every place I tried was either closed or sold out of kittens and puppies. Even the humane society and animal shelters had no kittens. I drove up to Westchester and down to Brooklyn with no luck. Time was running out and I was getting more and more depressed with every passing minute. I just wanted to make Mariah happy and disappointing her on Christmas was not an option. 

As I was heading back home, Nicole called. “Kevin, did you have any luck?” 

“No luck, Nic. I’m tired, I’m frustrated and I’m really bummed out. I’m gonna stop for a quick cup of coffee and I’ll be home in a few. Love ya.” 

I pulled into a 24-hour Dunkin Donuts and ordered a coffee while the store owner’s cat rubbed up against my leg. “Adding insult to injury” I thought to myself. I asked to use their restroom and as I walked to the back of the shop, I noticed a box in the corner. Normally a box wouldn’t interest me but this box was whimperingI gently lifted the blanket and to my amazement saw four kittens in the box. Forgetting my need to use the restroom, I raced back out front, startling the owner. 

“Sir, I’ve been driving all night looking to buy a kitten for my daughter for Christmas. Please, I’m begging you! Can I possibly buy one of your kittens?” 

The owner looked at me and said “Aw, no man. They’re not for sale … but I’ll gladly give you one for your kid.” 

Christmas morning Mariah excitedly ran into the kitchen and saw the mugs of hot cocoa and the Dunkin Donuts Munchkins box on the table. “Yay, Christmas Munchkins!” she squealed as she reached for the box, her big brown eyes opening wide when she saw the tiny kitty staring back at her. 

Yeah … this is the best Christmas ever.

NAR © 2018

AND SO THIS IS CHRISTMAS

Graphic by Mckenna Richy

Yay! Daddy’s bringing down the boxes of Christmas decorations from the attic! There’s a bunch of plastic tubs with a million trillion ornaments in them and a ginormous box with the tree. Daddy’s saying bad words ‘cause the box is heavy and Mommy keeps slapping his arm and telling him to be quiet. Mommy said it’s Christmas Eve and we gotta put up the tree and cook all this stinky fish for dinner. Yuck! I wanna have pizza but she said no ‘cause fish is the Italian trabition, whatever that is. 

Oh no! The tree is broken!  Why can’t we have a real tree like my friend Susie? Her family cuts a tree down and I think it smells just like the forest. Daddy says it’s ok. The tree isn’t broken. It comes in pieces and we gotta put it together. I’m gonna go watch cartoons now. I don’t wanna put the tree together. It boring. I just wanna hang ornaments. Daddy always lifts me way up high to put the angel on the tippy top of the tree. 

Daddy’s calling me. Wow! The tree is covered with lights and it’s time to hang the ornaments! Mommy has a box that nobody’s allowed to touch ‘cause it’s got all her special ornaments. I don’t know what’s so special about them. I’ve got a fluffy unicorn. Now THAT’S special! I gotta use the step stool to reach the higher branches. Mommy says I better not fall in the tree like I did last year. Boy, did she get mad! Finally it’s time for the angel and Daddy lifts me way up high to reach the top. She’s the most beautiful angel I’ve ever seen and I just wanna stare at her all night. 

Ding! Dong! Yay! Grammy and Poppy are here! Poppy says the fish smells delicious. Pee yoo! I’m not gonna eat it. I’m just gonna have some pisgetti. After dinner Mommy says we gotta get dressed for church. I don’t wanna go but Grammy says we gotta go. 

Oh man! There’s no place to park and Daddy’s saying more bad words. Mommy’s slapping his arm again. FINALLY we park and go inside. Whoa! It’s so pretty! So many candles and twinkly lights. And there must be a zillion people! Poppy says they’re all a bunch of phonies. Boy, Grammy gave him a really big swat! We squeeze onto a bench and I snuggle into Mommy’s fur coat. It’s so soft and warm. I just wanna go to sleep. Maybe I can nap for just a little while ‘cause Santa’s coming tonight and I’m gonna stay up all night and wait for him. 

Woohoo! I did it! I stayed up all ni….. 

Wait a minute. How’d I get in my jammies? And I’m in bed! It’s Christmas morning and I missed Santa! I run down the stairs and Mommy’s making bacon and pancakes. Yay!! Santa came! Santa came! Look at all the presents! Mommy says breakfast first, then we can open the presents.

I never ate so fast in my whole life!! 

NAR © 2018

THE LAST VIOLIN

It wasn’t often that we received a package from Sicily, so when one arrived that Thursday afternoon, Christmas Eve in 1964, we were all very excited. 

The family sat around the kitchen table as my mother painstakingly opened the package, being careful not to tear the stamps which my father would glue into an album. Finally the outer wrapping was removed, revealing a plain white box. My mother opened the box to find a card sitting atop tissue paper. Prolonging the excitement, she read the card silently to herself, then aloud, translating into English: 

“Dearest Concetta. We know you admired this while you were here on vacation. You left without buying it so here it is as a memento of your time spent with us. We hope you enjoy it as much now as you did then. With love – Cousins Paolo and Enza.” 

Slowly, carefully, mom removed the tissue paper to reveal the most beautiful music box I had ever seen. It was a miniature violin, made of highly lacquered ebony with mother of pearl inlay. We all sat in wonder as my mother gently wound the music box, then placed it on the table as an ancient Sicilian folk song began to play. It was wondrous and I immediately fell in love. 

Cradling it tenderly in her hands, my mother moved the violin into the living room and placed it on the marble coffee table where it became the glistening centerpiece of the room. 

Several times each day I would wind up the music box to listen to the hauntingly beautiful tune. I never tired of the glorious melody and treated the violin like a treasure, always careful to never over-wind it. I listened, mesmerized, until the final note was played. It was my delight for many years and I longed for the time when it would one day be mine. 

Decades later when my mom passed away, a few of her cherished items were placed in her coffin and buried with her….a small tin of pink sand from Bermuda where she and dad honeymooned, a toy which belonged to her precious firstborn who passed away at the age of two and…..unbeknown to me…. the magical violin music box. 

I grieved the passing of my beloved mother. I mourned the loss of that treasured music box……the first, last and only violin I would ever have. 

NAR © 2017

MY DARLING

Melt in my arms tonight, my darling, for you’re safe in this room here with me
Rest your head on my chest now, my darling, think what tomorrow will be 
The moon is full now, my darling, the hushed trees making nary a sound
As snowflakes and crystals descend from the heavens tenderly kissing the ground 

The winter is here now, my darling, gone is the summer breeze song
But the fire is warm, the blanket is cozy and I’ll cling to you all the night long 
Close your eyes and sleep now, my darling, for you know I will always be near
Wipe the tears from your long golden lashes; ’twas a bad dream, there’s nothing to fear 

Hush now, no more crying, my darling, only sweet thoughts swimming round in your head
You’re so precious, my darling, my angel, very small yet so safe in my bed 
Tomorrow is Christmas, my darling, and the reindeer are pulling the sleigh
With Santa and candy and toys made by elves and he’s surely coming this way 

Chef has baked cookies, my darling, and the night servant has brought out a plate
To place on the mantle, my darling, for Santa…..his poor hungry tummy to sate 
What’s that you say, my sweet darling? Read one more story tonight?
Yes, of course, my sweet little darling, for I know all things will be right 

Just a short one, my sweet little darling, for the clock is beginning to chime
In just a few hours, my darling, you’ll awaken to a wondrous time 
Are you ready, my precious, my darling, for the story of fairies and plums?
Mommy’s here, my sweet angel darling, and here I’ll stay until our morning comes 

Sweet dream time is finally here
Merry Christmas, my child most dear

NAR © 2017