Brettuns Village Trunks & Leather
Old Trunks, New Leather.  All from Maine.

December 20, 2000

Happy Holidays from all of us here at Brettuns Village Trunk Shop, and
from Brettuns Village Leather while we're at it.  Here's hoping this finds
you and yours in good cheer, swept up in the spirit of the season.
There's a lot going on that can put a smile on your face in spite of
whatever your current attitude may be, just take a look around.

Up here we're smiling because it's looking like we're scheduled to have a
white Christmas.  This is a vital factor in determining the success or
failure of the holiday season in New England.  Snow on the ground goes a
long way toward improving everyone's attitude, particularly those involved
in the skiing industry, or those who sold their truck to buy a new snow
mobile last February.

We've got snow, and more headed our way Friday.  Course, if you live
anywhere from northern Florida on up the east coast you've got some of the
white stuff to brighten up your day too.  I'll bet you had a good time
driving in it.  Go find a big empty parking lot and really gun the old
Chevy through there, spin the wheel hard left, and jump on the gas.
You'll be spinning bumpkin beside tea kettle in no time.  Don't try this
on I-95.  It's a good idea to have a teen-ager in the car when doing this,
so you can tell the constable that you were just teaching the youngster
how to handle slippery driving conditions.  Works pretty well.

So your stocks are in the dumper, your credit cards are limiting out, and
you don't know where you'll find the cash to take that holiday trip to go
ride the Face Melter Tobaggan Run at the Camden Snow Bowl.  Don't despair,
tis the season to be jolly.  I've got just the thing to cheer you up - a
Christmas story.  This is a typical sort of Christmas story, complete with
good friends gathering together, lots of food, presents, a giant snake,
food poisoning, a huge palace, and malaria.  You've probably heard this
story before.  Well, just in case, here it is again.  The difference is,
this story is real and it happened to me.

When I got out of college (about a thousand years ago) I got hired by a
company that did oil exploration all over the world.  After learning the
ropes in one of the most primitive areas known to mankind (southern
Louisiana) I got shipped over to Africa.  I spent a lot of time over
there, including a couple of holiday seasons.  It was always tough to get
in the spirit of things, being a few thousand miles from home, pavement,
electricity, modern medicine, hamburgers, and on and on.

One year, when I was living in Port Gentil, Gabon, a few of us expatriots
decided we'd get together a holiday gathering to rival anything that
continent had witnessed previously, missionary gatherings excluded.  We
got in touch with every transplanted person we could find - the British
hard-hat divers on the offshore rigs, the French helicopter pilots who
supported my crew, the Australian radio tech who kept everybody
communicating in the jungle, the Scottish girls (two of them) who worked
as imported black-jack dealers in the casino in town (this 20x20 foot
building had a working light bulb, which was quite an attraction), the
Lebanese family who ran the restaurant (called The Cedars, believe it or
not), and the man with no country (Palestinian) who ran the bank.  Don't
forget a handful of us Americans, doing our part to keep our country's gas
tanks full.  At any rate, we were in the midst of planning a huge bash
when we realized there was no place to hold it.  At the last moment the
casino owner contacted the caretaker at the Presidential Palace in Port
Gentil (President El Hadj Omar Bongo lived most of the time in the capitol
city of Libreville, he rarely visited our town, so the place was empty
most of the time) and talked him into letting us have the gathering there.

Cutting now to the main event - Christmas Eve found about 70 of us
gathered in the main dining room, which was about the size of your average
high school and had chandeliers the size of some small Maine towns, with
wine flowing and a smorgasbord of food from all around the region.  We had
antelope steaks, crocodile tail, python wrapped in bacon, and all sorts of
fruits and vegetables, most of which I had trouble identifying.  We ate,
we drank, we laughed, we cried, we exchanged presents, we drank, we ate,
and then, at long last, a few of us got bored and went exploring.  By and
by we came to the President's bedroom with its 20-foot diameter round bed
and huge pillows.  The ceiling in the room had to be 16 feet high.  Giant
painting hung on the walls; it was breathtaking.  If you're like me
there's only one thing you can do when you come upon a spectacle such as
this.  That's right, I knew you'd come up with the same thing that we did.
You jump on the bed and try to reach the chandelier.

After 40 minutes of this we (my helicopter pilots and I) reached the
following conclusions:

1.  Wait at least 2 days after eating such a huge meal before you jump on
the bed.

2.  If you reach the chandelier do not pretend you are Doctor J and hang
from the rim.

3.  Scottish black jack dealers who do not chose to wear undergarments
should not jump on the bed of any President at any time.

4.  Something was dreadfully wrong with the crocodile soup.

5.  Presidential palace caretakers start most evenings in good humor, but
they feel no pressure to remain that way.

Moral of the story - you're here in the states or whatever country you
call home, it could be a lot worse.  There's so much to be thankful for
here, sometimes we forget how lucky we are.  If you had been in that
palace that night, and if you had worked so hard to have fun just because
it was a holiday and you had to be away from those you truly care for,
you'd understand what I mean.

So from all of us, to all of you - when I say, "Happy Holidays," I really,
really mean it.  This truly is a magical time of year, make sure you take
a few moments to think that over amidst all the hustle and bustle.

Merry Christmas-
Churchill Barton
Brettuns Village