Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Ghosts of Christmas Presents

My fashion and current events advisor tells me that the “ugly holiday sweater” party is the new hip thing.
Once again, I am, in my opinion, way ahead of the pack.
She initiated a sudden, violent closet cleaning spree the other day in anticipation of a Christmas visit from our kids and grandkids. I was hoping she might have forgotten the guest room closet, which is the repository for all the suits I never wear anymore and the sweaters I never wore in the first place.
But she didn’t.
Opening the door of the closet was kind of like that scene in “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” when the Nazis pry open the Ark of the Covenant.
Ghosts of Christmas presents whirled and twisted and moaned throughout the room. There were red ones, green ones, red and green ones, and some with patterns and colors that could only be a result of the 80’s.
Most I bagged for a trip to Goodwill.
One little zig-zagged red-and-white number, that has an inexplicably dainty lace-like collar and is so heavy that it's like having an adult big horned sheep clinging to your back, already went to a friend in need of something really startling for a holiday happening.
But a couple, I snuck back into the closet.
So if you’re looking for something (or someone) truly ugly, and Christmasy, too, call me.
I’m your man.
Among the finest gifts of all are the memories we have about this most special holiday.
Many of the ones from my younger days have to do with my anxious attempts to BE GOOD in the weeks right before Christmas. Of course, thinking that extra-good behavior in those last few desperate days would both make up for a not-so-good eleven-and-a-half months and somehow fool a man who even “knows when you are sleeping” was kind of like studying my arithmetic for the very first time on the night before the semester test.
But I did that, too, so, getting a late start was nothing new to me.
My older brother, who was an evil genius so determined and clever that he could make you laugh in the face of his most diabolic torture, knew of my concerns. And so, he made it his mission to make things a little worst.
Our family legend was that it was Santa’s elves who crept around to check on us. Big brother, therefore, cut out a perfect silhouette of what he figured a North Pole elf would look like, including beard and pointy hat. He then taped the thing to the outside of the shade of our bedroom window and waited. After nightfall, the street lights from in front of our house backlit the cutout once the lights in the room were extinguished.
“Look, John, an elf!” he whispered from his bed.
I buried my head under the covers.
Finally, needing oxygen and hoping it was all a mirage, I peeked out.
But the elf was still there, listening and watching.
“Do you think he knows about the window?” I whispered back, referring to a yet-to-be-discovered incident involving a snowball and my dad’s garage.
“Probably,” replied my brother. “But you could probably make up for it if you went downstairs and made me a peanut butter sandwich.”
Yeah, nobody said I was smart. But apparently it worked.
Santa Claus came again that year.

1 comment: