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December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 10:04 AM * 61 comments

Many years ago I was down in northern Texas on a Christmas Eve. For some reason that escapes me, the radio station I could get on my car radio was playing All Little Drummer Boy, All The Time. Something like eighteen different versions, back-to-back.

This inspired me:

Mary snarled at me
Pa-rum-pa-rum-pum
I had the Kid asleep
Pa-rum-pa-rum-pum
You woke Him up, you creep
Pa-rum-pa-rum-pum
Rum-pa-rum-pum
Rum-pa-rum-pum
You and your drum.

Which reminds me: Q. What’s a parent’s favorite Christmas carol?

A. Silent Night


Q. What did Santa say when he got stuck upside-down in a chimney?

A. OH OH OH

Q. How is a cat on the beach like Christmas?

A. They both have sandy claws.

Q. What do Santa’s Little Helpers learn in school?

A. The Elfabet.

Q. How do Mexican sheep say ‘Merry Christmas’?

A. ¡Fleece Navidad!

Q. What kind of candle burns longer: A red candle or a green candle?

A. Neither. They both burn shorter.

So, anyway, St. Peter is up at the Pearly Gates one Christmas Eve, when three guys arrive simultaneously (the result of a horrid automobile crash, despite the best efforts of fast and efficient EMS). St. Peter says to them, “Hey, guys, because it’s Christmas you’ll have to show that you have the holiday spirit before I’ll let you in.”

The first guy pulls out a cigarette lighter and flicks it.

“What’s that supposed to be?” says St. Peter.

“It’s a candle,” the guy says.

“Come on in,” says St. Peter.

The second guy pulls out his car keys and rattles them.

“What’s that?” says St. Peter.

“These are Jingle Bells,” the guy says.

“Come on in,” says St. Peter.

The third guy pulls a pair of girl’s panties out of his pocket and waves them in the air.

“Okay,” says St. Peter, “Just what is that supposed to be?”

“They’re Carol’s!”

Comments on Merry Christmas:
#1 ::: Bether ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2008, 10:36 AM:

Many years ago I was down in northern Texas on a Christmas Eve. For some reason that escapes me

Having slept very little, I initially read that as one sentence. I am currently in an airport, trying to get to northern Texas. And while I want to see my parents, there is certainly a part of me that is convinced my reason has escaped me, to be sitting (potentially futilely) in this snow-covered airport, trying to make a flight on Christmas Eve.

(I'm practicing not lurking. This is, I think, my second comment.)

#2 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2008, 10:39 AM:

Snarf! Love the Little Drummer Boy variation.

And welcome to Bether from another mostly-lurker.

#3 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2008, 10:49 AM:

Bether@1: I will now betray my own regional roots by asking "Whereabouts in northern Texas?" (My folks are in Denison, up by the Red River, which is how Macdonald and I ended up listening to nonstop variations on "Little Drummer Boy" that particular Christmas Eve.)

#4 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2008, 10:50 AM:

Welcome to all our mostly-lurkers.

Q. How many chimneys does Santa go down, anyway?

A. Stacks!

(I wanted this post to be a Christmas present -- you have to open it.)

#5 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2008, 10:58 AM:

Q. Why doesn't Santa Claus have any children of his own?

A. He comes only once a year, and then it's down the chimney...

#6 ::: Bether ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2008, 11:15 AM:

Debra @3, they're near the DFW airport -- Flower Mound, precisely.

#7 ::: Michael Adelstein ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2008, 11:58 AM:

A guy bought his wife a beautiful diamond ring for Christmas.

After hearing about this extravagant gift, a friend of his said, "I thought she wanted one of those sporty four-wheel-drive vehicles."

"She did," he replied. "But where was I going to find a fake Jeep?"

#8 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2008, 12:12 PM:

My husband, who ordinarily is Mr. Bah Humbug par excellence, was seized by the holiday spirit this year. Of course, him being him, it was the darker, old-time spirit that did the seizing.

For your enjoyment (I hope!): "Whip of the Red Hunter"

And if, like me, you mistrust tinyurl links, try this one: "Whip of the Red Hunter" (tinyurl preview link)

A very merry ChannuKwanzSolstMas to you all!

#9 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2008, 12:29 PM:

Years ago, on a car trip, a friend and I produced the following:

You better not shout, you better not cry
You better not pout: I'm tellin' you why:
Santa Claus has just bought the farm.

The boys in the Morgue have checked him out twice.
They tell us that he's on permanent ice.
Santa Claus has just bought the farm.

The cops say he and wifey had had a little tiff
But how can we have Christmas
If Santa is a stiff?

and so on.

Merry Christmas, Joyous Feast of Lights, Happy Festival of the Sun's Return, and like that, all.

#10 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2008, 12:35 PM:

"The laws of breaking and entering, as they pertain to Santa, are unclear."
(Martini the penguin in Olive the Other Reindeer.)

#11 ::: Mark D. ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2008, 12:38 PM:

#8 - What an amazing Christmas gift. Thanks to your husband, and a blessed Weihnachts to all.

#12 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2008, 12:58 PM:

Speaking of Christmas music, I've become enamored of Mary Chapin Carpenter's recently-released Christmas album, Come Darkness, Come Light. It has half-a-dozen brand-new songs and only a couple of traditional carols. I get really tired of the radio playlists, so this is a nice alternative.

#13 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2008, 12:59 PM:

And here I was expecting that the third guy's being full of holiday spirits caused the accident.

O Christmas tree, o Christmas tree,
We'll chop off all your branches.
O Christmas tree, o Christmas tree,
We'll chop off all your branches.
And cut you up for firewood,
So maybe you will do some good.
O Christmas tree, o Christmas tree,
We'll chop off all your branches.

My father used to sing that one. Also sang "A Visit from St. Nick" to the tune of "On Top of Old Smokey".

#14 ::: R.M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2008, 01:09 PM:

#8, Lexica -

Wonderful. I left him a comment, and thank you so much for sharing it here where I could find it.

#13, Anne -

I won't try it. Really I won't try it. Really. (I'm not convinced yet, I may have to say it a few more times....)

My father's contribution to Christmas weirdness was a simple "Shouldn't have eaten so much sash," at the appropriate point in the same poem. I'm trying to memorize the whole thing now, and I suspect my delivery will always have a pause in it just long enough for me to say that, even if it is only to myself.

#15 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2008, 01:09 PM:

Texas used to mean Christmas to me. We drove down to visit Dad's family (my grandparents, uncles, aunts, numerous cousins) at least three out of every five holiday seasons. One of my cousins knew my birthday because it was the day the fireworks stands opened down there. For years, the highway 287 corridor was very, very familiar to me. We started in Fort Collins, Colorado, and when we had driven 500 miles, we'd be about to Amarillo -- halfway there! For some of those years, we had family in Amarillo, and I liked that best of all. They lived right by a lovely park, and it was just like an extension of their yard. My cousin had the entire upstairs of the house for his own domain.

I also loved the Hill country of West Texas. Every time we drove down, the drive got less boring to me (much like the I-80 drive east to Omaha did), and the more familiar and welcome the landmarks, buildings, and signs became. Dumas, formerly Ding-Dong-Daddyville; Dimmit (dammit!) and small towns that managed to have the only open gas station right when we needed it. I made it down for a last visit in 2007 as my parents were packing to move from Kerrville to Escanaba, MI, and was able to detour for a farewell drive, stopping at the marvelously cluttered Frontier Times Museum in Bandera, then driving past the ranch where Grand-dad used to raise Angus cattle. Goodbye, gentle hills. Farewell, graceful trees that bow over the roads.

#16 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2008, 01:32 PM:

Christmas time is here, by golly -
Disagreement would be folly -
Deck the hall with hunks of holly
Fill the glass and don't say when!

Kill the turkeys, ducks and chickens,
Stoke the fire, drag out the Dickens,
Even though the prospect sickens,
Brother, here we go again!

On Christmas Day you can't get sore
Your fellow man you must adore
There's time to rob him all the more,
The other three hundred and sixty-four...

Relations sparing no expense'll
Send some useless old utensil
Or a matching pen and pencil!
Just the thing I need! How nice.

It doesn't matter how sincere it
Is, or how heartfelt the spirit;
Sentiment will not endear it,
What's important is THE PRICE.

-- Tom Lehrer


(ajay, played by Jimmy Stewart, runs crazily off down the main street of Making Light as the snow thickens...)

Merry Christmas, Fluorosphere! Merry Christmas, puns! Merry Christmas, moderators! Merry Christmas, emergency medicine! Merry Christmas, knitting! Merry Christmas, trolls! Merry Christmas, Cthulhu! Merry Christmas, dinosaurs! Merry Christmas... oh dear...

#17 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2008, 01:47 PM:

ajay, you forgot the dinosaurs.

#18 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2008, 01:53 PM:

Linkmeister (12): That's a great album. It even has an honest-to-gosh Solstice song, as well one that's clearly Christmas not Solstice only because of a reference to a stable, and a secular Thanksgiving song that fits any family-and-friends-together holiday.

#19 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2008, 02:10 PM:

Good King Wenceslaus looked out
On the Feast of Stephen
A snowball hit him on the snout
Made it all uneven
Brightly shown his schnozz that night
Though the pain was cruel
When a doctor came in sight
Riding on a mu-uu-le.

#20 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2008, 02:44 PM:

Marry Christmas & Happy Holidays!

It's already nearly 9am Christmas morning where I am*.

*Pictures Christmas morning dawning across the globe.

#21 ::: Ledasmom ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2008, 02:55 PM:

I just picked up our giant orange cat and sang to him "Santa Cat is soiling your rug". I have no idea why.

#22 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2008, 02:58 PM:

Everybody knows a turkey.


(and some mistletoe...)

#23 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2008, 03:15 PM:

For me, the quintessential Texas Christmas song is Robert Earl Keen's "Merry Christmas from the Family". It's a dysfunctional family, but whatever happens, they can pull together and sing a song. And mix some more drinks and send someone to the store.

#24 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2008, 03:30 PM:

So there I was in the Garífuna village of Orinoco on the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua, and a little girl came up to me and asked timidly "Is you name Santa Claus?"* "No," said I. And the little girl looked so disappointed, that I said "Santa Claus is my cousin. My name is Subordinate Clause." There was an expression of joy on her face. She grabbed one of her little friends and pointed at me saying "Him name Subornate Claus!"


*The Garífuna of Nicaragua speak Western Caribbean Creole English, which the Creoles of Bluefield call "Creole" and the majority of people who speak it, being Jamaicans, call "Patwa".

#25 ::: j austin ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2008, 04:24 PM:

Kip W. @15,

We usually have to drive to see my family in Texas, too, and about halfway there, my husband is already drooling for a bacon cheeseburger from Braums. "Is that in Dalhart, or Dumas?"

287 goes right by my teeny little town, but there's absolutely no reason to go through it. We actually missed it one time, because a Sonic had opened right by the overpass, and MY town didn't have a Sonic.

#26 ::: Ledasmom ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2008, 04:31 PM:

You better watch out
You better not lark
Around in your stocking feet in the dark
Santa Cat is soiling your rug.

He'll eat up all your turkey
He'll eat your tinsel too
And all he leaves on Christmas day
Is a pile of shiny poo.

(Children have been at home since the 12th. Today is the first day of Christmas vacation. I offer no other excuse)

#27 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2008, 04:55 PM:

Are Mexican sheep better?

My brother always used to sing "Mary's noggin, pa-rum-pum-pum-pum."

And my mother has twice this season told people who are complete strangers to me that I used to sing "O Pissmas Pee, O Pissmas Pee" when I was small. My parents never embarrassed me when I was a teenager; why have they started now? (Of course, I am telling the whole internet. Maybe it will shortcircuit the blackmail if everyone knows.)

Because we live in the future, we are streaming our iTunes Christmas playlist through our stereo and controlling it from anywhere in the house using our cell phones.

We have had "I'm Dreaming of a Dead City" and the Vandals' cover of "Here I Am, Lord" so far. We take a slightly cracked approach to Christmas carols in this house.

#28 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2008, 05:23 PM:

We've been listening to the Barenaked Ladies Christmas album here; I particularly like the "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" that segues into "We Three Kings", with Sarah McLauchlan.

Black, black mood here, kicked off by a headache that lingered all day, punctuated by constant interruptions. It took me two hours to get through all the requests from the kids that needed meeting before I could go to the store.

Bleh.

Merry Christmas, all; may it beat the heck out of Christmas Eve.

#29 ::: PixelFish ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2008, 05:58 PM:

Apropos of The Little Drummer Boy, my new favourite version is the Dr. Girlfriend and Monarch rehash of the David Bowie and Bing Crosby version. (The Monarch plays David Bowie and Dr. Girlfriend plays Bing.)

The Monarch and Dr. Girlfriend Sing Little Drummer Boy

#30 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2008, 06:06 PM:

Abi @ 28... May your Christmas be more pleasant than its Eve.

#31 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2008, 06:53 PM:

Deck Us All with Boston Charlie!

Joy to the Whirled!

#32 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2008, 07:54 PM:

What happens when Santa gets stuck in the chimney?

He gets Claustrophobia!

#33 ::: Scorpio ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2008, 09:18 PM:

For scansion, you need a couple more lines, which I will cheerfully supply:

Mary snarled at me
Pa-rum-pa-rum-pum
I had the Kid asleep
Pa-rum-pa-rum-pum
You woke Him up, you creep
Pa-rum-pa-rum-pum
I had him fast asleep
Pa-rum-pa-rum-pum, rum-pa-pa-pum, rum-pa-pa-pum
So get out of here
Pa Rum-pa-rum-pum

You and your drum.

#34 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2008, 09:31 PM:

From a book I can't recall (about a kid who wins a baking contest by accidentally spilling chocolate chips into the bread pudding).

"Good king Wences backed his car
On a piece of Stephen"

I dont recall the rest, and it wasn't a complete verse, as I recall. 30 years on and I still recall it.

#35 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2008, 10:33 PM:

Jingle bells, batman smells . . .

#36 ::: sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2008, 11:08 PM:

Dealing with a bad cold, so everything I sing is flat. My mother is glaring at me. ;) filk+out of tune=annoyed family.

Kip @15 - the drive to Omaha on 80 or 29 has never been anything but boring, even when the people at the gas station just south of the border recognized me in and out of garb.

Merry Christmas, all.

#37 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2008, 11:44 PM:

Terry Karney @ 34: Mrs. Coverlet's Magicians, apparently.

#38 ::: sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2008, 12:50 AM:

Dealing with a bad cold, so everything I sing is flat. My mother is glaring at me. ;) filk+out of tune=annoyed family.

Kip @15 - the drive to Omaha on 80 or 29 has never been anything but boring, even when the people at the gas station just south of the border recognized me in and out of garb.

Merry Christmas, all.

#40 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2008, 06:04 AM:

Re. distorted Little Drummer Boy lyrics -

I've heard comedy group The Sheryls doing a christmas number which started off with...

"Come I told him
Come - but not up my bum.
Not my rec - tum"

... and did not become noticably more tasteful after that point. Merry christmas to all.

#41 ::: Tlönista ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2008, 07:35 AM:

The girlfriend and I have opened our presents and are watching the adaptation of Hogfather, and counting down to the Doctor Who Christmas special. No public transit in all London today so it's a day to be spent in laziness. Merry Christmas, all!

#42 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2008, 08:17 AM:

Show me someone who's afraid of Christmas and I'll show you a Noel coward.
I forgot who I stole that one from, but hope you all have a right merry one [and don't eat too much sash].

#43 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2008, 08:59 AM:

Some years ago, my dad visited my sister for Christmas, and for some reason he brought along his cat. It developed that the cat ended up bringing home some fleas (from one of my sister's mostly-outdoor cats, I guess).

When I heard this news, I immediately broke into song, wishing them both a "Fleas Navidad!"

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good morning, ideally with relatively few fleas involved!

#44 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2008, 09:17 AM:

I am now out of hospital, but not yet home. No reliable internet yet, but life is better.

Best wishes to all.

#45 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2008, 02:02 PM:

Terry Karney (34)/ Joel Polowin (37): I'm pretty sure it's the first one, While Mrs. Coverlet Was Away.

#46 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2008, 02:23 PM:

albatross @ 43 ...
When I heard this news, I immediately broke into song, wishing them both a "Fleas Navidad!"

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good morning, ideally with relatively few fleas involved!

*ROTFL* Thank you for adding a fine giggle to my current situation, which is indeed a "Fleas Navidad" :D

We've no idea yet where from, however.

#47 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2008, 06:17 PM:

j austin, #25: Mileage varies. Having had 2 dinners and 1 breakfast at 3 different Braum's units, we have now relegated them to the category of "ice cream decent, food in event of emergency only." But if your hubby likes it, apparently he's got a lot of company... and if we all liked the same things, just think what a haggis shortage there'd be!

Pixelfish, #29: My all-time favorite "Little Drummer Boy" is the Gary Hoey version, with sitar and Indian raga rhythms. It's quite spoiled me for any other version except the Roches'.

Hope everyone is having an enjoyable Christmas Day.

#48 ::: j austin ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2008, 08:41 PM:

Lee@47,

That's the only Braum's in the whole state that he likes, and the only thing he's ever had is the bacon cheeseburger. Never had the ice cream;)

Then there's Henry's in San Angelo. Every time someone dies, and we have to go to the funeral down that way, the first thought is, "Oh, no." The second is "Henry's!"

My big present was a new computer with a 22-inch flatscreen monitor (my old one was oooold, and tended to spontaneously restart at the worst moments) and I feel like a cat in front of an aquarium. Back and forth, back and--What was that? Word documents look obscenely huge.

#49 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2008, 09:10 PM:

Dave, #44, in rehab, then? Good news! I hope you're home soon. I'm sure your folks do, too.

#50 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2008, 09:19 PM:

Mary Aileen @ 45: No, definitely Mrs. Coverlet's Magicians. I checked my copy this afternoon while visiting my mother, who's still got a couple of shelves of my old books.

#51 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2008, 11:55 PM:

We Crish you a Merry Wishmas!
We Crish you a Merry Wishmas!
We Crish you a Merry Wishmas and a Yappy Hoo Near!

Good tidings we bring,
With a whole lot of strings,
Good tidings for Wishmas and a Yappy Hoo Near!

#52 ::: JoXn Costello ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2008, 12:21 PM:

And then there's the P.D.Q Bach classic, Throw the Yule Log on, Uncle John

Ten o’clock on Christmas morn and all the guests are coming to the door;
Ten o’clock on Christmas morn and Uncle John’s already on the floor.
Though the weather’s bitter cold there’s not a frown to mar the festive mood;
Wait ’til they discover that old Uncle John has eaten all the food.

#53 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2008, 02:29 PM:

Joel Polowin (50): I stand corrected!

#54 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2008, 12:57 AM:

Some years back I was down at my sister's. There were songs, including "O Lutefisk" and the ceremonial retelling by my brother-in-law of how the year his grandmother dropped the plateful of lutefisk on the floor, his and his siblings were all very happy....

#55 ::: Ruth Temple ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2008, 09:45 AM:

O lutefisk, O lutefisk,
How lovely your aroma!
O lutefisk, O lutefisk,
You put me in a coma
You smell so bad,
You look like glue,
You taste just like an overshoe
But lutefisk, on Saturday,
I think I'll eat you anyway!

Happy all festivals of twilkly lights in the dark of the (northern) year to all!

#56 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2008, 12:48 PM:

Old holey tiiiiights, my little butt is freeeezing,
This is the worst Christmas I ever had.
Why should we siiiiinggg carols when it's sleeeeeting?
Sometimes I waaant a new Mom and Daaaad.

Also:

You better watch out; you better not cry;
You better not pout; I'm telling you why:
Santa Claus is buying
A gun.

#57 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2008, 03:52 PM:

What's particularly sad is that we are reduced in the car to listening to the local Adventist station because (it being more than one second after Christmas Day) it's the only station in the area playing any Christmas music. Fortunately for our sanity they are going easy on the evangel-pop and heavy on the Leroy Anderson/Nat King Cole end of things.

#58 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2008, 04:47 PM:

C. Wingate, #57: Has it occurred to you that the complete disappearance of Christmas music immediately after Christmas Day might be connected to the appearance of it immediately after Halloween? After 2 months of saturated exposure, a lot of people are just plain sick of it! Including, I should think, many of the radio folks.

Doesn't your car have a CD or cassette player?

#59 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2008, 05:13 PM:

It filled me with great happiness, when I was in the Bay Area during the Holidays, to see that TV station KOFY had brought back its Chrsitmas Eve programming that consisted of a log burning in a fireplace.

#60 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2008, 06:37 PM:

Lee #58:

Also, the common Christmas music that appears in stores and such is mostly not very good. There's some wonderful Christmas music out there, but the stuff in stores is mood music intended to convince people to buy more stuff, while not irritating too many people so much that they go to another store. (This also runs to Christmas decorations--I don't think I've ever seen a store that wasn't explicitly Christian have a Nativity scene, for example, but lots do Christmas Trees and Santas, because non-Christians and not-very-churchy Christians mostly won't be turned off by a Christmas Tree and a Santa.)

To steal a quote from someone on the net (maybe Keith Lynch) talking about public education, the best way to get people to dislike candy is to force-feed them lots and lots of really low-quality candy.

#61 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2009, 11:11 AM:

re 58: Actually, it didn't show up that early this year. Well, maybe on some of the pop stations, but not on muzak or on the classical stations I listen to. Even the rush of candy and such was a bit delayed this year. I didn't hear Christmas muzak until after Thanksgiving, and the classical stations didn't play anything until Advent 2.

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