My boys eagerly anticipate the holiday season. While some people might attribute their excitement to the return of Santa and piles of gifts, they would be sorely mistaken. My boys count the days until the return of The Whacker. Their keen longing reaches a fever pitch the moment I bring a new Whacker into the house.
It doesn’t matter that The Whacker is covered with wrapping paper. They know what lies beneath. Oh, they try to make do throughout the year with lesser paper towel whackers, or the lowly toilet paper whackers. But nothing beats the Christmas Whacker as a prime instrument of whackage.
The boys stand near the pool table, where I lay out the non-kid gifts for wrapping. At ten and seven, they are not there to help. They are only in it for The Whacker. Genius, the older, lays claim to the first Whacker. Many a time, I’ve been hard at wrapping, with several camouflaged Whackers laid out on the pool table, only to hear my son whine, “Use that one. It’s almost ready. Hurry up! Just peel off a little more.” The little one, the boy we call The Pony, due to his aversion to My Little Pony kid’s meal toys, after an unfortunate order-taking gender mix-up, will ask, “Are you about done with my Whacker?”
The Christmas Whacker is a special breed. It is longer than the other varieties of Whackers, such as those found at the center of rolls of aluminum foil. It’s more fun to swing through the air. It thumps louder when you hit your brother over the head with it. It lets out a booming echo when you put your mouth to the hole in the end and yell “WOOHOO” into it. Sometimes, you just blow into it to hear air gushing from the end. But blowing The Whacker isn’t nearly as fun as stabbing or smacking somebody with it. Too much blowing causes The Whacker’s hole to get moist and soggy, and nobody wants to touch a wet Whacker.
The lifespan of the Christmas Whacker is approximately two days in our house. Oh, some have perished within an hour. And the odd one might have been lost behind the couch and survived for a couple of weeks. But those are exceptions to the rule.
The first sign of a declining Whacker is the crack. It might be a blowout near one end, but it generally appears in the middle. The crack causes The Whacker to wobble in a swordfight, and lessens the pain of the victim in a good old-fashioned noggin-whacking.
As the crack is ripped open, the Whacker-wielder calls for amputation near the gaping wound. The regal Christmas Whacker then becomes a mini-Whacker, which is not effective against a full-size Whacker. This causes the owner of the ailing Whacker to whimper to Mom, “I get the next Whacker. Mine is no good anymore.” He then stuffs the stumps of his Whacker into the wastebasket. Sometimes, their dad pulls Whackers out of the trash and places them in his burn pile. He thinks it is wrong to waste space in the dumpster with a Whacker that is perfectly good flame fodder.
As the holiday season draws to a close, we store our Whackers, still covered with superfluous Christmas wrapping paper, in the rafters of the basement workshop. Until they are called into action again next year.