American Humor: Aunt Lucy's Holiday Stress Cure

The last laugh column, holiday edition, shares MOTHER EARTH NEWS reader submitted regional American humor with other MOTHER readers.

| November/December 1987

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    Then she took a deep, deep breath. A strange, lopsided smile began to twitch on her lips, and her eyes danced like marbles in a blender.

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Last Laugh shares MOTHER EARTH NEWS reader submitted American humor with other readers. 

American Humor: Aunt Lucy's Holiday Stress Cure

We interrupt the ongoing rail ramblings of the Plumtree Crossing Continental Cruisers just in time to share the following message sent to us by Jeff Taylor, whose cautionary tale of American humor concerns that upcoming national trauma—the holidays.

When I was growing up, we celebrated every Thanksgiving and Christmas at Aunt Lucy's house in the country. At her insistence, some 30 souls, counting kids and dogs, would gather there: a running pack of uncles arguing sports and politics, a gaggle of aunts underfoot in her huge country kitchen and a small herd of kids in search-and destroy mode among valuable heirlooms.

"Pshaw," she'd grate out after we kids tipped over a hutch full of dishes, "that china was so old that Washington ate off it once! High time to buy new!"

Aunt Lucy always rushed about during the holidays, a gingham whirlwind cooking, cleaning, taking part in several conversations, mediating heated arguments between crazed adults or rioting children and drinking coffee nonstop to keep her warp drive on maximum. She refused all offers of help. She always insisted, panting, that these gatherings were "no work at all, no trouble; why, it wouldn't be the holidays otherwise." Then she'd light another cigarette, compulsively explaining that nicotinic acid was really pure niacin, an important B-complex vitamin.

But it was clear that stress was taking its awful toll. She'd fret about overcooking the turkey, about finding the ideal gift for each person, about making the holidays perfect. Somewhere, unfortunately, she'd read that stress was the tension that gave life its spring and that certain people thrived on it. She thought she was one of those people. "I just love the hustling and bustling," she'd claim. But just before one fateful Thanksgiving, she was sometimes pronouncing that last word "buttsling".

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