A big “Howdy” to you all from the MT state!
I’m sure you all know that here the holiday is known as
I would imagine that most of you, however do not know the
origins of this now famous holiday nomenclature. And since
I am here and have an over abundance of free time and no spell check,
I will torment all of you who have the endurance to read further.
Way back in a time that the ancients knew as “The Eighties”, there
was a little electronics store on what is probably the busiest
street in the bigest city in the fourth biggest state.
The little store had a reader board at the edge of the parking
lot that bordered on the busiest street in the biggest city
of the fourth biggest state. You know the type of reader board
I’m talking about. The kind with the three or four lines that hold
the black-on-clear plastic letters that slide into place to
make words. Or get stolen and/or fall off to make
It was winter time in the city and the temperatures frequently
run anywhere from -30 to the teens. This part of the state is
relatively flat and the wind is a constant nagging bone saw.
Biting at exposed flesh with the temperment of a rabid
The extreme cold makes normally flexible materials like the
rubber suction cup on the end of a telescoping pole rather…
unflexible. When the suction cup is in this condition, it makes
it difficult to lift a large plastic letter from ground level
to a reader board some fifteen feet high. Compounded with a gusting
wind and, well, you got yourself a job from hell. The only
satisfaction one might get is the ocassional letter being
ripped from the end of the pole by the evil wind and carrying it
unpredictably into one of the six lanes of 45mph traffic.
This has led to more than a few near wrecks, cracked windshields
and the loss of countless members of the alphabet.
It was the night before Christmas
and the call came to the store.
The owners were screaming,
“Get Merry X-mas on that board!”
The store had three sales people who we shall call Timmy, Sparky
and Davey. An election had to take place to determine who must
brave the cold and do the deed. Timmy, Sparky and Davey all drew
straws and since Davey was the new guy, it was decided that he
drew the short straw. Plus, Davey was still in high school and
hadn’t the full benifits of remedial English and watching him
spell even the simplest words on the reader board was an
endless source of amusement for Timmy and Sparky.
So Davey gathered up his weapons and what alphabetic ammuntition
he thought he would need and headed out to the parking lot.
The only way to make any progress at letter placing in winter
is to carry a large 5 gallon bucket of hot water out to the
sign so that the suction cup may be dipped and thawed long enough
to grab a letter and place it in the tracks of the reader board.
If you were good at it, you just might be able to get the letter
in the track before it became hopelessly frozen to the suction cup.
Davey was not good at it.
Being Christmas Eve, Timmy and Sparky were probably busy in the
stock room crash testing remote control cars, playing Xenos on
one of the TRS-80′s or performing some other mind-altering
activity. After some time it occurred to them that they should
supervise Davey’s progress and were amused to find him walking
back from his latest acheivement reading “MURRY CHRISTMANS” with
the suctioncup and pole still dangling from the “C”.
After Timmy and Sparky recovered from the initial hysterical
laughing fit, they inquired about the obvious mis-spellings.
Davey, being more than likely dyslexic, had completely missed
the “N” at the end of Christmas which was left over from the
previous wording of the sign. As to the “U” in place of what
should be an “E” in MERRY, he lowered his head and pointed to
the slush covered plastic letter now being ground beneath the
wheels of countless speeding cars. “It was the last E we had”
he mumbled, the “U” sounded phonetically similar to Davey.
Another round of laughter ensued.
He further explained that he became frustrated at that point and
had dunked the entire letter “C” in the bucket of no longer
hot water and it was frozen in the signs plastic tracks along
with the telescoping suction cup pole and could not be removed.
After careful analysis, we decided that the best course of action
would be to pelt the sign with snowballs until it surrendered
the pole. Which it eventually did along with an “I” which were
notoriously quick to dessert due to their narrow width.
So you can actually take an “I” out with a snowball.
After replacing the “I” we were now faced with fixing the
“MURRY”. In the freezing cold, we could not get the electrical tape
to adhere to the plastic long enough to transmute an “F” to an “E”.
“MURRY” also had the conotation of being a Jewish name, so
We decided that “MURPHY” had a nice catholic ring to it and
being as we had plenty of P’s and H’s it seemed like a more
CHRISTMANS was just plain funny.
So there you have the legend of “Murphy Christmans”.
I hope you have enjoyed learning about it as much as
I have recalling it.
This story has been brought to you by the letter “E” and
dedicated to the memory of my friend, Tim.