The television was tuned into a rerun of the The Waltons, that fantasy show where a passel of kids lived happily ever after on a mountain during the Great Depression. They roomed five-to-a-bedroom in a house with their parents and grandparents, adding spouses, their own kids, a couple of stray dogs, an occasional vagrant and the neighbor’s still as the series wore on.
One of the older boys, Ben, had just brought home his new bride. The couple oohed and aahed over the bounty family members showered upon them. There was a jar of honey from Mary-Ellen, handcrafted needlework from grandma, and a matching tub and toilet from Jim-Bob. Jim-Bob must’ve tired of standing in the line at the outhouse.
Wet-eyed wifey sobbed that the best part to receiving all those gifts was that they came from the heart. That could’ve been a scene right out of Christmas at Contessa’s. Yeah, right. A tub AND a toilet when The Big Guy’s got enough duct tape to reconstruct a house?
Don’t misunderstand. The Big Guy has lavished many spectacular gifts on the Contessa, including designer perfume and fine jewelry. But, for every diamond necklace, there’s been a household labor-saving device. One Christmas morning several years ago, The Big Guy directed me to an oversized package that looked an awful lot like a gift-wrapped vacuum cleaner. Nothing spreads holiday cheer quite like an Oreck sucking up dead Christmas tree needles.
Another year, any hopes I had for a laptop were dashed when The Big Guy handed me a huge present and told me to open it first. Any gift pushed to the front of the line was either alive or needed to be used right away. There were no pets that year but The Big Guy ate pancakes hot off a new griddle.
Gotta hand it to The Big Guy when it comes to buying me clothes. He must still think I’m the 27-year-old 100-pound slip of a girl he married. One year he brought home a matching sweatshirt and sweatpants from Victoria’s Secret. They’re modern-day lounging pajamas – I don’t think anyone would wear them in public. Naturally, they came with the store’s signature plunging neckline but everything else was standard – fleece, hooded, warm and cozy.
Almost everything. It was hot pink. Middle-of-a-steak pink. Blush on Pinot & Grigio’s-cheeks pink when they caught sight of me in leather pants a few pounds, er, years, ago. Breaking up that sea of pink was a silver-studded backside, spelling out P-I-N-K. I guess that’s for the benefit of color-blind people. At least it wasn’t in Braille. Worse yet, a studded dog design graced the upper-left chest, like some sort of logo. Schlemiel, schlimazel, hasenpfeffer incorporated! I looked like a groupie at a Laverne & Shirley convention.
This year, I thought I’d make it easy for The Big Guy.
“You can get me an iPhone,” I suggested.
“Why do you need that? You’ve got a phone. You punch in a number, it dials, it rings, you talk. And you can get calls, too,” he explained while cleaning his $700 set of golf clubs. “That’s all you need.”
“Oh, I get it. It’s just like those $79.99 clubs at Sears. You hold a club, you swing it, you hit the ball and the ball moves forward. After seven or eight whacks, a trip through the woods and time spent wading in the pond, your ball ends up in the hole.
“That’s all you need.”
There’s a gift under the tree with my name on it that’s just about the size of an iPhone. Or a muzzle.