There was no such thing as a typical holiday at the Folkie Palace. The personnel was always in flux, and the economic wherewithal to celebrate tended to concentrate on alcohol and marijuana rather than festive foods and decor. If you wanted a holiday motif, you’d best wander down to Washinton St. and the displays in Jordan’s, Filene’s, and Kennedy’s. And we did. We usually did this when at least half-lit and could stare at the lights on the Boston Common until our eyes dried out so much that we were forced to blink. Still, despite the slush on the Beacon Hill streets, Boston was lovely enough during the holidays that an absolute lack of charm inside the apartment did not bother us.
One night, just days before Thanksgiving, the Monk started going on about how festive it could be if everyone pitched in and decorated the Folkie Palace for the holidays. Reluctant at first, the holiday spirit grew. Over the next days, one than others brought in borrowed, swiped, and found items to decorate the windows looking out over Grove St.
Dutchie found a discarded aluminum tinsel Christmas tree in the dumpster behind Filene’s and brought it home. The Monk, our chef extraordinaire, scrounged the market for a Thanksgiving feast. Having little money, we had to be innovative. Being folkies, we were unconventional in our choices of decor. The Teahead of the August Moon used holiday lights to illuminate the FUCK COMMUNISM sign that faced the apartment of some Socialists living across the street. They had attempted to correct our error in doctrine without success.
At last, Thanksgiving came. About twenty people showed up in waves to consume the feast the Monk had prepared. It would be fair to say that gobble was the best operative word; many of the guests did not eat this well on a regular basis. After dinner, the Monk announced that there would be the grand lighting of the Christmas decorations at sunset – officially opening the holiday season. But first, we consumed the pies.
At sunset, we lit Dutchie’s Tinsel tree. Then the large Fuck Communism sign featuring glitter and blinking lights got lit. The Monk then ceremonially turned on the strings of lights in the windows looking out on Grove St. It was impressive.
My friend Bill then announced that his unique Christmas display was ready for unveiling. Bill was the only technologically capable individual in our group. We had wondered what he was keeping under old sheets. Bill had stunk up the apartment with the smells of soldering and burning electrical components for days. Finally, he whipped off the sheets and plugged in his magnum opus.
Bill had cannibalized defective strings of lights, an old motorized Santa display, and a phonograph to create a sort of Zombie Santa. It eerily went from dark to flashing lights in disturbing patterns. Santa seemed to lurch from one side to another, and smoke arose from an incense pot at his feet. The record on the phonograph ran at varying speeds, so the Ho HO ho – have you been a good little boy – sped up and slowed down, making Santa, with his lurching movements, seem to be more a part of the Cthulu mythos, and less an Elf from the North Pole. About sixty seconds into this apparition, something serious started to burn inside Santa, and we pulled the plug on him for good.
Afterward, everyone agreed that it had been an unforgettable Thanksgiving.