Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 12.4.18
Stanstead, Quebec


All I Want for Christmas is No Tube

If your garland starts producing pearls, call your health care provider.

I was informed by a reader that last week's column about the Absolute Worst Christmas Tea & Bazaar was decidedly Grinch-like and that I should really get with it Yuletide-wise. Unfortunately, this week I was hoping to relay a certain awkward aspect of my post-surgery recovery. Nonetheless, in keeping with the festive directive, I will do my utmost to deck my prose with boughs of holly.

As is normally the case when a man has his sugarplum surgically removed, I was sent home from the hospital with a garland inserted in my Yule log. The garland connects my punch bowl to a stocking that hangs by my thin leg with care in the hopes I don't leak in my clean underwear.

All day long, the stocking gets filled with Christmas cheer. Then I drain the Christmas cheer in the toilet.

It's really no fun having a garland in your Yule log. In fact, the very thought of it is enough to make most men cry out, O holy night! What child is this! There's also mild swelling of the Jingle Bells, but that's a whole other matter.

Unpleasant, yes, but when I left the hospital, I assumed, as I'd read, that the garland would remain in place for only 10 to 14 days, which is roughly half an advent calendar. I could handle that. Plus, they gave me drugs.

But then I received a message from the North Pole. My garland was to stay inserted until December 18, not 10 days, not 14 days but 26 days. Twenty-six days! What the silver bells!?!

I decided to phone the North Pole myself and speak to Santa Claus, who had removed my sugarplum, but all I reached was his personal elf. "There must be a mistake. That's like three and a half weeks wearing a garland," I said. "Am I on some kind of Naughty List?"

The elf explained to me that, no, it was simply that Santa Claus was on vacation.

"Isn't there someone else who can extract the garland? Mrs. Claus? A resident elf? Anyone?"

Alas, everyone was busy making toys for all the good little girls and boys or performing hysterectomies. I'd have to wait.

Frustrated, I went about living day to day with my garland, based on the limited care instructions I'd received. What they didn't tell me was what to expect -- punch bowl spasms, feeling like your Yule log is stuffed with the holly and the ivy, the burning urge to spread Christmas cheer, pain in the figgy pudding.

Then there was the day when I was home alone and started to feel my Yule log burning. It got stronger and stronger, and then up the chimney it rose until my whole lower abdomen was in excruciating pain, like there was a partridge in my pear tree. I could barely move. I celebrated the birth of Jesus by loudly calling out his name over and over.

I managed to phone an elf, and she suggested I better call for a one-horse open sleigh. So I dialled 911 and waited for them to dash away, dash away, dash away all the way over to Pierce Street. But just as it's beginning to look a lot like passing out, I finally noticed that my garland was terribly kinked. I'm all backed up with Christmas cheer! I quickly untangled the garland and all that cheer started draining out of me into my stocking and I was singing the Hallelujah chorus. Of course, I immediately cancelled the one-horse open sleigh (yay!).

But those are the things they don't warn you about. Nor do they tell you that, as my daughter so delicately informed me, when I walk it looks like I've filled my pants with lumps of coal.

So if you see me, I'm walking that way not because of post-sugarplum pain but because I have a garland wiggling my Yule log. It's preventing my return to normal life. With it, I'm no dasher or dancer and certainly not a prancer. I definitely can't go a-wassailing. I can't even settle down for a long winter's nap. Until this thing is gone, I'll have a blue, blue Christmas (and still a bit black-and-blue, to be honest). Of course, once my garland does come out, I'll have quite a few weeks of being the Little Diaper Boy. What a pain in the pa-rum-pum-pum-pum.