Saturday, December 26, 2015


Even though I missed the actual holiday due to excessive joy with my family, I want to wish all of my bloggy thing readers the most merry of Christmas. If I had a lick of sense, I would end today’s communication there, but I think we all know that’s a mighty large “if” when it comes to me.

This Christmas feels weird to me. Leading up to it and experiencing it, I had a lot of morose thoughts bashing around inside my brain. Here’s where I try to get them out of there.

This was a second Christmas without my father, who passed away in October of 2014. It was yet another Christmas without my youngest brother, incarcerated in a federal correctional institution because he stole over a million dollars from a client. Unless he catches a break, he won’t be out until early 2017.

It’s the first Christmas without her dad for one of our cherished neighbors. I can’t help thinking of all the other people I know who are having their first Christmas without a loved one or with other awful changes to their situations. A divorce, loss of child custody, loss of a job, and so on.

I read a stupid version of “The Night Before Christmas” written by one of the Republican candidates or one of his campaign staffers. It turned an amusing and pleasant tradition into a screed of hate-mongering. I think it was Mike Huckabee, a Christian minister whose concept of Christianity surely makes Jesus weep. It made be wonder how all these Republicans who claim to be Christians can continue to claim that in light of their un-Christian actions and positions. But they are, after all, the party of bigotry, fear and lies. Being hypocrites is in their DNA.

If you’ve been reading the bloggy thing this month, the paragraph you just read makes me, officially, a Christmas asshole. I was the guy who brought up politics. But, at least, I didn’t hit on any of my hot or even lukewarm cousins.

But here’s what the Republican fear-mongering leads to...

Last week, U.S. officials refused to allow a British Muslim family to fly to Disneyland for a planned holiday. The family had obtained clearance prior to their intended flight. They don’t seem to meet any of the criteria for being refused boarding a flight, save for the ambiguous “miscellaneous grounds.” After repeated queries, the only explanation the family was given was that they “must have done something wrong.”

The British are our allies. The vast majority of Muslims wish us no harm. The something wrong in this story is that U.S. officials seem to be putting into effect the demented and illegal and unworthy of our country “no Muslims allowed” plan of the vile Donald Trump and his equally vile supporters and fellow Republican candidates.

Damn it. That is not my America.

I thought about some past Christmas celebration. There was the one where my folks gave me Jules Feiffer’s The Great Comic Book Heroes  (1965). Besides being my introduction to such characters as Plastic Man and Will Eisner’s The Spirit, the book told of how Feiffer made his own comic books as a kid. Inspired by that, I started making my own comic books with my friends Terry Fairbanks and Mike Hudak, and sending them to Marvel every other month. We’d always get back some nice little note from Stan Lee or Flo Steinberg or Roy Thomas, and made me feel even more connected to the publisher which gave me my first real job in comics. I was hired by Roy Thomas.

My comics bond with Terry Fairbanks turned into a greater bond in my life. He married Nora Joyce. I was in their wedding party and so was Nora’s niece, Barb Kepke. It took me over then years to get the lovely Barb to the altar, but we’ve been married for closing in on 32 years now.

I thought about my first Christmas after moving to New York to work for Marvel Comics. Because money was tight, I hadn’t planned to fly home that year. Then I heard Rosemary, my younger sister, only six at the time, wouldn’t have Christmas if I wasn’t home. So I made secret plans to come home. My older sister Carrie would pick me up at the Cleveland airport.

Stan Lee gave me my birthday off. I left for the airport around 6 in the morning. Only to find out my flight and most other flights had been cancelled. I was flying on the glorious student standby. I can’t remember which airport was which, if I started at JFK or at Newark, but the other one was open. So the airline bused us over to that airport. No charge for the transportation.

When I got to the second airport, all of those flights were either cancelled or delayed. The airline gave us lunch vouchers while they sorted things out. My $50 ticket was paying off big, except that I was still in New York or maybe New Jersey.

Late in the day, I finally got on a flight to Cleveland. The plane was nearly empty so the air hostesses loaded me with sandwiches and snacks. Then came the news we couldn’t land in Cleveland. We were diverted to Toledo, which was about 100 miles away from Cleveland.

When we got off the plane in Toledo, the airline had arranged a bus to take us to Cleveland. No charge for the transportation. I got to a payphone just before we left to update Carrie on where I was and where I would be dropped off in Cleveland.

The Cleveland weather was bad. It took Carrie a while to get to me and then a while to drive us back home. It was almost midnight by the time I walked through the door. The next morning, when Rosemary woke up, I was sitting under the tree. I was the only present that I could afford to give my family that year.

Even though Christmas seems to bring out the worst in some people, especially Republican candidates and Fox News commentators, it also brings out the best in others. My heartwarming tales of the season include the ten-year-old Ohio boy who was flown with his family to Wichita - at no expense to them - to get a free prosthetic arm from Peebles Prosthetics of that fine city.

Then there was the outpouring of support, emotional and financial, for comics artist Don Perlin when he hit some medical woes and the attendant cost of those woes. Over $18,000 has been raised in just three days.

But my favorite “better angels” stories has to be the tale of the repo man who couldn’t bring himself to repossess the car from the single mom who was trying to raise a 10-year-old daughter. The mom has a pituitary tumor that gives her seizures and trouble walking. It made her unable to work as a pharmacy technician and forced her to drop out of Cleveland State University.

The repo man offered half his pay until her delinquent car payments were taken care of. His company refused. Instead, the company chose to cover those payments. Then the staff took the daughter’s holiday wish list and bought presents for her, delivering them to the girl and her mom just before Christmas.

That’s the America I love. That’s my America.

And for all you right-wing imbeciles you think there’s some sort of war on Christmas, I direct you to our opening image. A brave young lad who loves Christmas risks life and limb to stop two criminals from ruining Christmas. Not once, but in two movies.

Those criminals...that’s a War on Christmas. Yes, it’s the stuff of fiction, but so is Bill O’Reilly’s War on Christmas.

If there is anyone I wouldn’t allow to fly to Disneyland, it would be O’Reilly and his despicable cronies. They are toxic waste in human form and a threat to children, happiness and the good tidings of this season.

From this Christmas asshole to all of the non-assholes reading this, I hope you had a truly joyful and wondrous holiday.   

I’ll be back soon with more stuff.  

© 2015 Tony Isabella


  1. Wow, Tony.

    You know how to take a guy on an emotional roller coaster. It touched my heart to read the stories of the outpouring of Christmas kindness, and your own fight to get home for to celebrate Christmas with your family; however, your pointing out the fact that America is increasingly being driven by fear makes me ashamed and deeply sad. I will tell you the same thing I tell my students: have faith, we will work it out. There will be tears, and pain; but just like a laboring mother who suffers to bring forth her joy into the world, we all will have to suffer and travail in pain to bring forth a better country. But I have NO DOUBT that we can, and will do so. We can't look away. We can't shuffle off the responsibility to future generations. The revolution has begun, and America will be better for it because it is a revolution of consciousness, of enlightenment. Keep the faith, Tone. Happy Holidays to you and yours!

  2. That repo man story is a terrific one, as is your journey back to Cleveland from New York. Thanks for making me smile on this post-Christmas Sunday morning!

  3. Thanks for letting us know about Don, Tony. I donated to the GoFundMe and had heard it was going well, but this update is truly a Christmas miracle.