Bedpans and Walther P38s Part 3

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. 

“Mother!” 

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.

“Gram-Gram.”

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. 

Day 364

I am ending day 364 doing what I love: writing for the pure joy of writing.  The little ditty below contains 16 names familiar to my childhood. Can you guess what they refer to?*

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16 Candles.  Who am I kidding? It’s 61 candles.

Through the days of my life,
I have ascribed to a guiding light,
While leading all my children
through the edge of night.

The young and the restless,
Search for tomorrow.
The bold and the beautiful,
Look in dark shadows.

As the world turns,
Ryan’s hope rests
In another world,
In secret storm.

One life to live,
Yet, love of life
May end within the general hospital
Hounded by the doctors.

* Before the days of talk shows, cooking shows, courtroom dramas and game shows, American day-time television was dominated by the juicy drama of the soap opera. The sixteen listed above are some of the longest running. A few soaps continue today: General Hospital (1963); Days of Our Lives (1965); The Young and the Restless (1973); The Bold and the Beautiful (1987). My mother loved to watch As the World Turns. I can still see the spinning globe on the small electronic box as the show came on the air as I was scurried outside to play.