Donald Landaiche, of Donaldsonville, says tales of Christmas tree mishaps remind him of this story of how not to decorate a tree:

"We were a poor family and could not afford lights. However, we had several boxes of colored birthday candles my sister decided to use to decorate the tree.

"Need I say more?

"No, the house did not burn down, but we all learned a valuable lesson…"   

Cookie loves cake

Cookie Pecquet, of Metairie, says, "One of my biggest pet peeves of the season is the 'fruitcake toss!'

"I am probably one of the very few people who love fruitcake. If they want to hold their tossing contest, then come to my front yard and toss them through my doorway.

"It could be like Mardi Gras, with fruitcake instead of beads."

I've evidently led a sheltered life: I've never heard of a "fruitcake toss." Is it like the mullet toss at the Flora-Bama, or the shoe toss popular with Florida football players?   

Story time

C.J Aucoin, of New Orleans, says mention in the Friday column of the reasons behind safety regulations "reminded me of my experience on the first day in the FBI new agents' class.

"We were issued the Manual of Rules and Regulations, all four volumes, encompassing thousands (exact number classified) of rules and regs.

"Our instructor said, 'Men, read and absorb these rules, and remember that behind each and every one is a sad, sad story.'

"I am proud to report that I spent three years in the Bureau without causing any new regulations."

Driving while weird

Speaking of warnings, Kenny Blanchard, of Plattenville, says he's always on the lookout for unusual warning labels on products:

"There are many out there, he says:

"'Don't put kids in washing machines.' 'Sleeping pills may cause drowsiness.' 'Don't iron clothes while wearing them.' 'Remove child from car seat before folding.'

"But in my opinion, there is one that tops the list.

"Label: 'Do not drive with sun shield in place.'

"Product: Reflective cardboard sunshades for car dashboards.

"OK, so what is the sun shield for? Presumably, hanging out in your car, alone, sipping a 44-ounce fountain cup of Mountain Dew, air conditioning on, sunshade firmly in place, contemplating where you'll drive when the sun finally goes down.

"Or you could just take the sunshade out of the window and drive in the blistering sun without it. If you dare."

No change for you!

Dave Arata, of Waggaman, says, "I've been reading the stories in your column about church ushers making change and dropping coins while taking up the collection during Mass.

"This would never happen at the church we attended while vacationing in England.

"As the usher got close to us, we could see that the collection basket was made of stainless steel wire mesh with a velvet lining inside, and attached to a very long handle. It also had a stainless steel hinged lid on top, with only a slot to drop in your donation. And the lid was secured with a padlock.

"What went in could only be taken out by the person who had the key!"

Special People Dept.

— Inez “Nez” Landry, of Magnolia Assisted Living in Gonzales, celebrates her 101st birthday Monday, Jan. 11. She is a native of the River Road in Donaldsonville.

— Hazel Barras Faulk, of Lafayette, celebrates her 96th birthday Monday, Jan. 11. She is originally from Vermilion Parish.

— Buté Richard, of Plaquemine, celebrated her 91st birthday Dec. 31. She is a volunteer at the St. John the Evangelist school cafeteria.

— Audrey and T-Charles Daigle, of Paincourtville, celebrated their 68th anniversary Sunday, Jan. 10.

Love and marriage

From Marvin Borgmeyer: "The secret to a long and happy marriage is not just finding someone you can live with for 50 years. It's finding someone you can't live without!"

Pogo called it

Alex "Sonny" Chapman, of Ville Platte, notes my Saturday mention of "Pogo," the great Walt Kelly comic strip featuring a wise possum.

He recalls Pogo's most famous saying: "We have met the enemy and he is us."

Says Sonny: "Truer now than back then."

Write Smiley at He can also be reached by mail at P.O. Box 588, Baton Rouge, LA 70821. Follow Smiley Anders on Twitter, @SmileyAndersAdv.