A Lighter View … The perfect gift

July 1, 1993

A Lighter View … The perfect gift

By Karen M. Morris, Humorist

Christmas is the world’s biggest birthday party and this year, I treated it like I was dead last in a marathon with the clock ticking. Fortunately, God has a sense of humor, and this Christmas, He shared a little of it with me.

I’d spent the entire year looking for the perfect gift. In January, I started taking notes on what people said. Wayne “said” he wanted a Powermatic planner. And, for the next three months, I searched for that exact model. Twelve stores later, I found the Powermatic at Handyman Depot and bought it. Then I hid it in a secret room that only I knew about—the laundry room.

In April, Wayne changed his mind and began drooling over a drill press. The Powermatic was too heavy to hoist out of the basement, so I kept it and used the box to set stuff on. By December, Wayne had lusted after a reciprocating saw, an air compressor, a drill press and a plunge router. I now owned enough tools to open up my own Handyman Depot and Wayne was dreaming of a boat.

The week before Christmas, I was desperate and bought Wayne whatever I could get delivered by the 25th. It turned out to be a wireless mouse, which was a good thing. I might have strangled him with the cord, otherwise. When the mouse arrived, I hurled it under the tree unwrapped. One of the cats must have claimed it, because we never saw the mouse again.

I started the Christmas season off by complaining it had snuck up on me. I even began asking people if Christmas had come early this year. Why I was caught off guard was a mystery. I owned a calendar and Christmas was clearly marked on Dec. 25—exactly 365 days from the last Christmas that had snuck up on me. I panicked and started baking—a practice handed down by my ancestors who didn’t own calendars.

After baking for weeks, I assembled 10 trays of cookies and candy to give to our friends. My refrigerator couldn’t hold all the trays, so I set them outside on the deck where they’d stay cool. The next day, I discovered the plastic wrap on every tray had been nibbled through and all the pecan bars were missing. The chipmunk that I’d thought was so cute when he stole food out of Wayne’s bird feeders had raided my trays. Worse yet, was seeing all my other cookies strewn around—rejected by a rodent. It made me wonder what our friends did when they got their trays.

Now every year, we set aside a day and devote it to setting up the tree and decorating. With our used equipment, we needed a whole day. Wayne hauled out the artificial Shasta. It had lost most of its needles and looked anorexic. So we put a spotlight on it to give people a clue where it was. None of the twinkle lights were functioning and the ornaments were all stuck together like a lab model of DNA. Exhausted from all of my baking, I took a nap during the stringing of the tinsel. When Wayne wrote our annual Christmas letter, he asked me to help him remember some of our more exciting adventures during the last year. All I could think of was, we fixed the oil leak in the car and our 20-year-old TV had lost its ability to reproduce the color blue. I suggested we e-mail a card to everyone on our buddy list. With one click, all of our friends (including some strangers named “Blenderhead” and “Tingletoes”) would know just how much we cared. Didn’t Wayne realize it was Christmas and we didn’t have time to get personal?

As we celebrated Christmas this year, everyone was jabbering and ripping open their packages. But not me. I collapsed on the couch like a drama queen. I definitely needed an attitude adjustment. And that’s when God showed me His sense of humor.

I noticed the Christmas tree was leaning at a 90-degree angle—it was imperfect, just like me. But God still thought I was precious. My cooking was so atrocious that even a starving member of the rat family refused it. Yet, God saw me as a fixer-upper with heavenly possibilities. And the gifts were all wrong. But it didn’t matter because my family already possessed the greatest gift of all. Today was Christ’s birthday.

Christmas is about the perfect gift and sharing it with others. It’s about getting personal with those you love. I looked at my children as they tossed wrapping paper at each other’s heads and my husband as he shook the empty wireless mouse box. And I laughed. Tomorrow may be another day, but the joy lasts forever.

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