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Christmas Time is Here...

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It was a cold, blustery day when the Wilson family gathered together to celebrate Christmas. What should have been a wonderful, festive occasion turned out to be a disaster. But then again, the family had grown use to such drama over the years and perhaps there was no reason to expect anything different this time around. Tom Wilson, the patriarch of the family, would often grow agitated about this time of the year. He disliked the inconveniences associated with Christmas -- the long lines, the shopping, the expense involved and the obligation to spend time with family. If Tom would have had his way about things, he and his wife, Mildred, would have disappeared to go anywhere else and they would have given cards to each of the children and grandchildren. But Mildred wouldn’t have any of that. She insisted that they would have a joyous Christmas with the family saying such things as “you never know how many years we’ll be able to do this” and “it means a lot to the children, Tom.”

So yet again, Tom was stuck hosting a party at his house for 5 children and 13 grandchildren. Over the years, he had learned some strategies for coping with the ordeal. Most often, he would sit in his favorite recliner and watch sports all day or read the newspaper. On this particular occasion, he outdid himself.

The family was all seated in the formal dining room. Twenty-four people were gathered around two long tables and were feasting on a smorgasbord of meats and savory dishes. No more than twenty minutes into this banquet, one of the daughters noticed that her father had slipped away from the table. When he didn’t return anytime too soon, JoAnn went in search of him. When she returned to the dining room she whispered to her sister and told her “we need to go downstairs. Daddy has scheduled a business meeting for one o’clock and he wants everyone to open their presents now.”

The news spread quickly around the table. Suddenly, as if in unison, everyone got up from an unfinished dinner and scurried downstairs as if avoiding a tornado. When they arrived downstairs, they noticed that Tom had been hard at work. He had carefully arranged each person’s gifts in orderly stacks. Presents were everywhere around the room, indicating Mildred’s kindness, if not the scope of her conquest. Tom started clapping his hands and motioning with his arms, “Let’s go! Let’s go. Christmas is here!” though it sounded more like a bark than a cheer. “Everyone find your pile and dig in.”


Unlike most years, where the family members each took turns opening their gifts, so as to share the moment, this year everyone was ordered to open their gifts at once. What followed was chaos. Like brutal savages looting their enemies, the entire Wilson family -- adults as well as children - began viciously tearing through wrapping paper. “Thank yous” were being offered but they could scarcely be heard amid all the commotion.

Tom Wilson was leading the charge like a war general. Despite thinking his actions subtle and undetected, he could be seen kicking presents to Mildred, telling her to hurry up and open them. He then gave everyone a black trash bag with instructions to “take off with your plunder in hand.” Mildred was furious. JoAnn had disappeared into the bathroom to cry about the whole mess. Her siblings were in disbelief while their spouses found the whole thing amusing. Of course the grandchildren were happy. They were lost in the frenzy of their good fortune.





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