Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Trouble with Christmas

lump of coalThe trouble with Christmas is the conditions you have to meet in order to reap its benefits. Hot apple cider is a necessary restorative in cold weather. You shouldn't be expected to sing for it. Stuffed goose with all the trimmings is just the thing for a hungry man who has labored all night playing poker in a poorly heated saloon; he shouldn't have to wait additional hours for in-laws to attend the meal.

Last month I expressed my dissatisfaction over such requirements with my friend Kringle during a friendly game of checkers at Mr. Nix's store.

"Just who exactly decides what is 'good'?" I asked. "I'm very good at selling Wizard Water©, but every year I find a lump of coal in my stocking. My wife, on the other hand, can't bake a biscuit that doesn't require a sledgehammer to break apart. They are only useful as wheel brakes, and yet every year she gets a new hat. I wish you would clarify what you mean by 'good'," I told him.

"Good," replied Kringle "is what benefits others, not just yourself. At least your wife's biscuits have some use."

"If I can do something that benefits others, then will you bring me a new hat, too?" I asked.

"I'll think about it," said Kringle. He excused himself to speak with Mr. Nix.

While he was out, I noticed a pair of squirrels lying on the frozen ground in front of the store. They hadn't been there a few minutes before. I walked outside, removed my scarf and gingerly picked them up. They appeared to be breathing. What would benefit these creatures the most, I wondered?

I remembered Kringle's red wool sack lying near the potbelly stove that heated the store. "A few minutes in a warm place might revive these fellows," I thought. I walked back and gently placed them inside the cloth bag. I intended to tell Kringle, but saw the sheriff approaching the store and decided to leave by the back door.

A week later I was in Mr. Nix's store again, and Kringle accosted me.

"I've been looking for you," he said. "Last week I was taking a sack of lace to the Ladies Home Aid Society for their annual potluck dinner and fundraiser. When I arrived at the dinner and opened the sack, a pair of squirrels jumped out. They were tangled in the lace. They dragged it through the puddings. Then they dragged it up the windows, but not before running across a half-dozen iced cakes, leaving a trail of footprints. By the time they were caught, there was pudding and icing smeared all over the floor and curtains. One of the creatures had to be fished out of the punch bowl. The table holding all the food was overturned by screaming women who were trying to leave the hall."

"You wouldn't know anything about that, would you?"

"We experienced some very cold weather last week, as you recall," I said. "No doubt those poor squirrels needed the warmth of your sack. I would thank whoever put them in there."

"I would not," said Kringle, glaring at me.

"But saving those critters benefitted them and not the person who put them there, didn't it?" I asked. "That qualifies as good, doesn't it?"

Kringle gritted his teeth. "Technically, yes," he said. "And because you have shown me what type of good you are capable of, I'm going to ask you to do something that I've never, ever asked anyone else to do."

"What?" I said.

"Don't try to do any more good things this year. You've done enough." With that, he left the store.

I'm terribly pleased.

I hope he knows I wear a hat size seven and a half.

copyright ©2010 Laurie J. Anderson, all rights reserved.

1 comment:

Amy said...

Oh I simply love it!!!! You are so talented. I laughed out loud!