'Matter of Laugh or Death,' a humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
BEST CHRISTMAS GIFT EVER
This is the time of year when people gather to celebrate the Christmas holiday with family and friends. (Ever notice the expression “family and friends” kind of implies that family members are not friends. That’s an unfortunate implication. I know many people who consider all their family members to be very close friends—as long as they don’t count the ones they no longer speak to.)
A fun activity when family and friends (and friendly family members) gather is a game called “Best Christmas Gift Ever.” The rules are simple: you take turns describing the most favorite and memorable Christmas gift you ever received. When describing the gift, be as truthful as possible regarding the basic details, such as the gift itself, who gave it, and how old you were at the time. But with all the other aspects of the gift, such as how you reacted, how jealous your siblings were, and how the gift transformed your life—feel free to embellish the story. Because if you won’t, surely your friends and family (and friendly family members to whom you may not be speaking later, depending upon their level of sarcasm) will offer their embellished recollections.
My most favorite gift ever was a bicycle I received from Santa Claus when I was 8 years old. My brother, who was 7, also got a bike that year. We were so thrilled when we snuck out of our bedroom at 3 a.m. on Christmas morning to take a peek. When we saw the silhouettes of two large bicycles in front of the tree, we just about burst. Imagine two youngsters more hyper than Charlie Sheen in the middle of an all-night cocaine party, but unable to say a word so as not to wake our parents. We just kind of quivered with joy, hovering about two inches above the floor the whole time, waiting for 6 a.m. to arrive.
One of the things that made us so excited about the bicycles was the realization that there truly was a Santa Claus. You see, at ages 8 and 7 we had heard some disturbing rumors at school about the Big Guy. So we spent a great deal of time that December examining ever nook and cranny of our house looking for hidden Christmas presents. We didn’t find any, and there was NO WAY our parents could have hidden two large bicycles without us discovering them. So that meant Santa was real. Yay!
Well, later that afternoon we were riding those gorgeous new bikes up and down the street. One of our loudmouth neighbors, who thought he was so cool because he was 10 years old, came out of his house to tell us some disturbing news.
(Spoiler alert! Everyone who is age 8 or younger should stop reading this column right now! And what are you doing reading this column anyway? This is for mature adults only. Go back to reading the sections of the newspaper more suitable for youngsters: the Business Page and the Police Blotter.)
Anyway, the neighborhood kid yelled to us, “Hey, I saw your father putting those bikes together in Mr. Barry’s garage the other day!”
We were stunned. Our father, not Santa, put the bicycles together? In Mr. Barry’s garage, not the North Pole? We hung our heads in sadness. Then my brother said, “But we get to keep the bikes, right?” I replied, “Yeah, I think so.”
Then we yelled in unison, “Yay!!” and continued riding up and down the street.
Yup, no doubt about it: best Christmas gift ever. Here’s wishing everyone a Merry Christmas!
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