Christmas Stories

Christmas Letter 2018

Dear friends and family.

I hope this season brings happiness to you and yours.

We had an exciting 2018. I had hoped to add pictures, but had hard drive failure again.

In March of 2018 I again took the whole family to Mars for a couple of weeks. This time we followed the latest rover for a couple of hours and had to watch out to not get photographed. The kids thought it was a great game.

The Martians still sneak in at night and put items around it that look a lot like earth creatures. They have a great sense of humor.

The Martian who dusts off the rover’s solar panels every night when it is down, is still at it and nobody at NASA can figure it out what is happening. One day we may tell them…or maybe not.

The most exciting part of the trip was visiting the Martian Museum where the Martians have gathered together all of the old landers and pieces of the first attempted landings. Strangely, some looked like they might not have come from earth.

They also have quite a number of interesting items in their souvenir shop. We bought a few. They are still in quarantine, being checked for contamination.

The Martians were really interested in buying Steve’s “Marvin the Martian” shirt, but he wanted to keep it. He did get it autographed, by several of them. We aren’t sure what it says since the entire Martian alphabet has not been translated as of yet.

Oh, that reminds me. When we arrived on Mars we were greeted by a welcoming committee of Martians wearing “Marvin the Martian” masks. As I said before, they have a great sense of humor.

On our way back we visited the American colony on the back side of the Moon. They were celebrating the colony’s 40th anniversary. They were happy to see us again, as were the Odnisors at the nearby “alien” colony who made my spaceship for me. I’m sure I told you how I came in contact with them. It is all in my story at: www.dougstepsout.com/category/novels/bsement-51/

I was really delighted to find out that with some help from our colony’s doctors they were able to finally solve the problem they were having with the survival of their eggs. It turned out to be a trace mineral that had somehow disappeared from their diet and been overlooked. Everything is fine now and they are going to stay.

Steve decided that he and his son, James, would like to stay on the moon for a while so he could see what new inventions the Odnisors and come up with. If you recall, they originally had colonies on Earth and gave us most of what we know in the way of architecture, electronics, etc.

I went back and picked them up two weeks later. James loved playing with the silly moon dogs and jumping high in the lower gravity. He really wanted to have a moon dog as a pet, but they are so difficult to keep alive on Earth, because of the higher gravity, that we thought it would be better not to. Maybe when he is older.

We spent a few days July in NOAA’s deep-sea living quarters near the bottom of the Marianas Trench. The sea at that depth, 36,000 plus feet, has some very interesting creatures living in it. Erika and Stella, my daughter and granddaughter, thought some of them looked a lot like the grey crawlers that live on Mars. I am sure you remember hearing about them and the other Martian life in my letter a few years back.

My time machine is working well and undergoing final tests on some improvements. Machine is probably not the right word, since what it does is just open a small portal to the past. Contrary to what Einstein said, we were able to go back in time, and have now proven that anything we do has already happened, so we are bot going to change history.. My grandson, Harris, wants a small dinosaur for a report he is making on them. We have already obtained a few “chicken sized” ones for several universities, but I am not sure he needs one of his own, report or not.

Our gold mine is doing quite well. We opened it through my basement by using the small mining equipment the Martians loaned us. We are recovering around 30 ounces a day with very little work.

Everybody is in good health and looking forward to our trip to the top of Mount Everest in 2019. If you recall from my previous letters, I landed there a few years ago and surprised a number of climbers by coming out from behind a rock in my shorts, Hawaiian shirt and straw hat, and offering them bottles of beer. Fortunately for me it was a sunny day.

This time we plan to hover near the top, get out, plant a flag and take selfies. Then we will land at the highest flat spot and look around. We hope to bag up some of the garbage left by the climbers and bring it down.

Have a great 2019

Doug Noble and family, Steve, Karen, Erika, Roy, Stella, Harris and James..

REMEMBER, BECAUSE SOME OF THIS INFORMATION IS CONFIDENTIAL, THIS LETTER WILL DESTROY ITSELF IN TEN MINUTES AFTER BEING OPENED OR IF YOU TRY TO COPY IT…. YES, UNCLE HENRY, WE KNOW YOU TRIED TO DO THAT. DID YOUR HAIR EVER GROW BACK?

The Christmas Season Arrives

christmas_tree4Our household, like most others on our street in Pasadena, California, consisted of three generations. It was a result of the Great Depression, where people in my parent’s generation were not able to afford their own home and, with children in tow, simply moved in with their parents, or vice versa. Therefore, for most of my life I lived with my father and brother in my paternal grandparent’s home. It was crowded, especially when my aunt, uncle and cousin joined us for a while, but always wonderful, creating an enriched childhood for me, especially during the holiday seasons.

Christmas at our house started the weekend after Thanksgiving when the men in the family, my grandfather, father, brother and I, piled into my father’s black 1941 Buick sedan and went looking for a Christmas tree. No, we didn’t take an axe or saw and head to the woods, we lived in Southern California and were simply off to a Christmas tree lot.

Usually the lot was at a large grocery store (supermarket wasn’t a word then) where huge bundles of fir trees were being unloaded from giant trucks into rapidly growing piles in the parking lot.

The four of us, with my grandfather orchestrating every move, exited the car and we two youngest grabbed trees one-by-one from the pile marked “six to seven feet” and stood each one upright for my father and grandfather (mostly my grandfather) to judge. We jealously eyed the “rich” people contemplating the Silver Tip trees, which cost an outrageous fifty cents a foot, while we went through what seemed like hundreds of common fir trees, dropping each one back onto the pile after hearing words from my grandfather like, “too crooked,” “not full enough” and “it’s flat on one side.” Finally, one of us came across what my grandfather said was “the tree” – the best in the pile by far.

My father paid for the tree, which usually cost under a dollar, and we prepared to take it home. We thought about putting it in the car’s trunk and tying a red flag to it’s tip or tying it to the top of the car, like most people did, but that could damage it. We had a better way to get it home. We two kids stuck our arms out the car’s windows and held it tight against the side of the car as my father carefully drove home, just daring to be stopped by a policeman.

We bought just the tree, the wooden stand cost another quarter. Besides, my grandfather was a carpenter who could build anything out of wood and always reminded us that he still had last year’s stand – somewhere.

Home at last, without interference from the police, we called to my grandmother to come see the tree while my grandfather went looking for last year’s tree stand. While my grandmother was telling us that it was the most beautiful Christmas tree she had ever seen my grandfather would give up looking for last year’s stand and make another one out of “something” he had lying around.

Having spent most of his life as a carpenter, my grandfather had an amazing set of ancient carpenter tools to use for this purpose. Perhaps set is the wrong word, a collection would be better. He had piles of tools that modern carpenters wouldn’t even recognize, all tucked away in an long, oiled wooden carpenter’s box that had a carrying rope which fit over his shoulder. Of course, the first thing he needed was a hammer and there was never one to be found amongst the tools. Hammers always seemed to be somewhere else, usually set aside after having served as a tomahawk for the latest session of “Cowboys and Indians.” Nails were another thing.

My grandfather had a collection of nails. Nails, to him, were treasure. If he saw one in the street, he picked it up and put it in his pocket to take home, straighten and put in a coffee can for future use. They cost real money when he was in the business, and he remembered that.

Once the stand was completed, the base of the tree was cut level – after two or three tries and lots of loud discussion – and the stand was firmly nailed on with no less than four huge nails.

Most bridges weren’t that secure and the stand was on the tree for eternity, unless of course, it had to be taken off and the tree re-cut because the tree proved to be too tall for the house.

We proudly carried the tree into the house, in an operation fully choreographed by my grandfather, where it was stood up in the corner of the living room and bent as it hit the ceiling because it was always too tall. Six to seven foot trees were always at least nine feet tall. We knew that, but we never learned – or maybe we never cared – because it was part of the ceremony.

Knocking over at least two objects that my grandmother cherished in the process, we took the tree outside again, hammered the stand off and cut a few more inches off the bottom of the tree. Once the stand was reattached, we marched the tree back into the house, where it finally stood in the corner, always leaning badly to one side. We shimmed it, bent it, pushed and shoved it, and, finally brought it to straight by fastening it to nails in the wall – nails left over from previous years – with fishing line.

Usually at that point, Blackie, the dog that belonged to the Johnsons next door but often came to our house to eat, chase mice and have puppies, would get up from her favorite spot near the gas heater, sniff around the tree and go back to sleep, apparently giving her approval. With that, we were ready for the lights.

Christmas lights used to come in strings in which if one burned out, they all went out. Of course, ours never worked the first time we tried them in spite of the fact that they worked when we put them away the year before. We would have to remove each bulb and replace it with a good one we bought last year at the after- Christmas sale (frugal we were) until the bad one was found and replaced.

For some reason the bulbs shaped like a snowman or Santa Claus, which were ancient even in the 1950s, always seemed to work and never burned out. A comment about this always brought out the “they don’t make things like they used to” statement from my grandfather.

Once the working lights were on the tree, my grandfather would get out his ancient extension cord – the scariest extension cord you ever saw. It wasn’t red, green, black or even brown, it was made of twisted wires covered in a badly worn tan cloth with a poorly replaced plug on one end and on the other end a brass socket which had a turn-switch, that sometimes, but not often, worked. That is what made it scary, since when you turned the switch, it made funny, popping electrical sounds and even smelled a little. Thank God that is all that ever happened.

Finally, plug lights into cord, plug cord into wall plug, carefully turn switch and…nothing. Somehow, in the time between when we had tested the lights and that moment, the bulbs had loosened, burned out or maybe just given up.

After fixing the lights and putting the tree-topper in place, my grandmother went to a drawer in her bureau for the first ornament. No, it wasn’t the Christmas tree candle holders which has been banned from use for years, those were in a drawer in the kitchen and although she would let me put them on the tree, lighting the candles was forbidden. What she was after was an ornament that she had received on her birthday – her real birthday – in 1878. It was glass, blue, about five inches across and must have been a quarter of an inch thick. It weighed half a pound or more.

She carefully hung it on a large branch, close to the trunk of the tree, where it would be safe from everything and everyone, including Blackie, who often wobbled the tree while trying to nibble on candy canes or strung popcorn and cranberries.

With that ornament in place, the Christmas season was here.