The Little Man Who Wasn’t There

A comment by gooseyanne (The everyday ramblings of Anne and her Goose) sent me on a bit of a wild goose chase to find the poem she quoted, and I’m delighted to share it back in its entirety.  Is this not what friends and google are for – helping us to add to our personal massive piles of random information?  Well, yeah.  So here you go.

Main Street Antigonish, Nova Scotia.

Main Street Antigonish, Nova Scotia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Antigonish, by Huges Mearns, 1899

(Inspired by reports of a ghost of a man roaming the stairs of a haunted house in Antigonish, Nova Scotia.)

Yesterday, upon the stair,
I met a man who wasn’t there
He wasn’t there again today
I wish, I wish he’d go away…

When I came home last night at three
The man was waiting there for me
But when I looked around the hall
I couldn’t see him there at all!
Go away, go away, don’t you come back any more!
Go away, go away, and please don’t slam the door… (slam!)

Last night I saw upon the stair
A little man who wasn’t there
He wasn’t there again today
Oh, how I wish he’d go away

In 1939 the poem was adapted to a song called “The Little Man Who Wasn’t There” and recorded by the Glenn Miller Orchestra.  It was on the Hit Parade for 11 weeks.

This innocent little poem has appeared in variations in literature, film, comics, television and music for over a hundred years.  Amazing!  Imagine some small thing popping out of your head and becoming the stimulus for further creativity, awakening and motivating future generations!  Well, it’s a nice thought, anyway.  We all have our delusions of grandeur.

Hope you all have a happy Tuesday.  Stay away from those staircases.

Changing Traditions

What is My Most Non-Traditional Holiday Tradition?

This question has me seriously stumped. I’ve always thought of a tradition as being some practice or custom passed down through generations. Rituals of long standing. Conventions particular to beliefs which are deeply important and therefore should not be altered.

Well, big fail for me and my immediate family if there’s supposed to be some kind of continuity in how we celebrate holidays. We’re doing well if a ‘tradition’ lasts more than a couple of years in a row.

The only consistent thing I can think of that our family has ever done is to have ridiculously huge meals to celebrate occasions. Although there’s often no rhyme or reason to when or where or who gets invited.

When we were growing up we rarely celebrated Christmas or birthdays on the exact calendar day. Mom would arrange a date based on everyone’s convenience and ability to attend. (My birthday dinner was likely to happen some day or other in May. Early or late, it was no big deal, and often shared with someone else whose special day was however remotely close.)

Our Christmas dinner might just as easily be on the 20th of December as the 30th. Or maybe even the first Sunday in January if that’s when it suited people. When I met W. and discovered that his family observed their Christmas eve on the 24th of December each and every year no matter what I thought he must be joking, but he was dead serious about how it should be done.

So our kids celebrated on the exact proper day until they were off on their own and figuring out their own traditions. One of which, surprisingly enough, has become to pick a convenient day for “Christmas” (usually a few days early) so that there is more “after Christmas” time to spend with family (playing with new toys) before they have to head home and go back to work.

I’ve come to think of the random-day festivities as a tribute to my mom. So maybe our odd tradition is being basically traditionless, flying by the seat of our collective pants and making up the rules as we go along. It’s kind of fun to have a holiday looming and no set plan in place, no hundred and one things that you MUST get done by the dreaded deadline.

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