Part Three of a Family Christmas Past
The moment the kids had waited for 365 days arrived. I beamed at my family–– mostly for the expectant joy on all faces. I donned my Santa hat and began dispersing gifts. The family rule was to wait until everyone had all their gifts piled at their side. The teenagers offered to play Santa’s elves to speed things up.
I gave the traditional secret Santa signal and madness ensued. The neat freak son-in-law trailed behind, best he could, crumbling shreds of wrapping paper into large, black trash bags.
Holliss, seven, shrieked, “How did Santa know I like red foxes?”
Her mother, Rebecca, the family baby, gave me the look that she was famous for and I asked what was wrong.
“Really, Mom? You gave my daughter a water bottle that reads “‘What the Fox’?’’
I couldn’t answer.
It was Christa, my second-born and mother to seventeen-year-old Janessa, who screamed, “What are you thinking? The Kama Sutra? A book on sex? She’s seventeen!”
Oh boy, I thought, I know I’m in BIG trouble. Still, I said nothing.
I turned toward the voice. It was Nathan––his face was as white as Christmas snow. He told the room that Cohen had just opened his present. As he spoke, he twirled what looked like a toy gun in his hands. Nathan, 15, was a sharp shooter whose goal was to become a Special Ops sniper.
“Did you know this gun is real? It’s a Walther P38. You bought a five-year-old a gun?”
The room was still, not-a-creature-was-stirring, not-even-a-mouse kind of still. And quiet.
I felt the blood drain from my face as I stammered, “I-I-I.”
“This is a mistake, Amazon doesn’t sell guns,” I yelled, and I snatched the gun away, “You all how Amazon is, remember the fuzzy elf slipper incident?” The details are best left unknown.
I proffered a weak defense that I knew nothing.
Dylan started blubbering. His mother clutched him at the elbow and escorted him into a bedroom.
Everyone began gathering their things. The grandkids begged to stay and be entertained by the annual reading of The Night Before Christmas, and the parents acquiesced. They helped themselves to a glass full of my home-brewed eggnog. I was thankful this year’s batch was alcohol-light. (The cook may –– or may not have––consumed the 32 ounces of rum the recipe called for.) I noticed a flask being extracted from Rebecca’s pocket.
I was called into the bedroom and Dylan tearfully told me the tale. He noticed my Amazon page open and thought he was being helpful. When questioned about the book he said he added that to the cart because Janessa likes to exercise, and the book cover looked like people were exercising.
He admitted he looked at toy guns for his cousin because he knew Cohen wanted to be a policeman, but insisted that he didn’t order one. I knew he was being truthful, making the mysterious appearance of a real gun even more puzzling.
“How did you order?”
“Easy. Buy now with one-click, Gram-Gram.”
“What about your mother’s stack of ten road signs that read ‘Drive like your kids live here’?”
“I have little sisters.”
I was thankful he didn’t order a sleigh full of toys. Or an Oozie.
Gram,” Dylan added, “When I was playing Minecraft, you got an email attachment that I clicked on. They might have downloaded spyware.”
“It’s O.K., Dylan. I’m not mad and you’re not in trouble,” I comforted, “I’ll get to the bottom of this after Christmas.”
I remembered getting a package that didn’t quite look like it came from Amazon, but the gift inside was in wrapped in Santa Claus paper so I shrugged it off. My imagination exploded like gas on flames and visions of ruthless arms dealers in Nigeria popped into my mind.
As I turned to the hopeful crowd waiting for their story, memories of my own childhood prank streamed like an Amazon Prime movie. When I was nine, my little sister, Lisa, and I walked across the field to Gramma’s house. She was outside hanging clothes on the line and unaware of our presence. I had a flash of brilliance and coerced Lisa (so she claims) into making the house appear ransacked. Then we hid while waiting for Gramma’s reaction.
No one laughed at that either.