Sunday, December 25, 2005

Holiday Greetings

There is no snow on the ground outside, but it lingers in shady patches here and there. The air is cool with a faint warmth that beckons me outside to walk the silent streets past barking dogs and brightly lit windows where families celebrate and unwrap their gifts.

Laughter floats eerily up from the landlady's apartment where her family gathers for the ritual of opening gifts and enjoying their stuffed goose with all the trimmings. I wonder if there will be a flaming plum pudding carried reverently from the kitchen to the table in Old World splendor.

Upstairs in my silent rooms I sniffle and blow my nose, snuggled into the covers with books and pens and paper to while away the hours and remember holidays past. Gifts and food and family that dwindled and grew and dwindled again flit through my mind, but it is the pranks I remember most, the ones I cherish, like the first Xmas prank I played on my brother's wife, Bobbie, and which I remember here in verse.

Nothing If You Please

It was Christmas time again
and the lots had been drawn.
I took the one left over,
the joy of giving so strong.

"What would you like?"
I asked with a smile.
"Nothing if you please,"
she replied. "Nothing at all."

I couldn't believe
what she said with that frown.
"Nothing. Just nothing,"
she said and at down.

She wouldn't help me,
wouldn't give me a clue,
so I went shopping,
nothing else I could do.

I looked and I purchased
what gifts I could seize,
while in my head echoed,
Nothing if you please.

An idea kept nagging,
tugging at my sleeve.
Everyone should have
exactly what they need.

Carefully I wrapped the last
and biggest box,
decorating it with bows,
holly, bells, and curled ribbon locks.

Everyone but she knew
what was inside,
a gift like no other,
a very big surprise.

The room was silent
as she unwrapped the biggest one
where inside nested another,
everyone snickered, "What fun."

Equally beautiful
in bold red and green,
the next box opened
to one with blue metallic sheen.

Each beautifully wrapped box
carried one inside
until finally, at length
one last box did abide.

With shaking fingers she opened
the tiny gold thing.
She pulled out the cotton,
tossed aside the string.

Shifting and shaking,
the cotton lining aside,
"It's empty," she said.
"There's nothing inside."

She turned it over
and the card aloud she reads,
"I gave what you asked for,
nothing if you please."

The story is here and I will have it printed up and sent to my sister-in-law as a keepsake to remind her, and the rest of the family, to be careful what you ask for. You just might get it.

Happy Holidays and may all your dreams and wishes come true.

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