Hurry! It’s only five days after Christmas…

We live in a decidedly busy world and, I’m sure, many of us found ourselves working on Christmas Day this year.

Admittedly, this is not an ideal situation for dedicated holiday celebrants who would prefer to observe the holiday amid the comforts of home, cheerfully roasting sugar plums over a crackling martini.

There are, however, some advantages to this arrangement – for example, it gives you lots more time to shop for beyond-last-minute Christmas gifts for friends and relatives who won’t ever know the difference.

(Hey, it’s the thought that counts, right?)

After all, there are no crowds and no frenzy right now – just you, your credit card and a whole bunch of really burned out shopkeepers who’ll probably be glad to simply give you their merchandise rather than hassle with even one more receipt.

No need to worry about damaging merchandise during your somewhat late shopping spree, either. Most everything that’s still left on the shelves will already be broken.

Best of all, there won’t be any desperately pushy sales people to annoy you as you root through the stacks of cracked coffee carafes, one-armed Barbies and potpourri that smells like damp reindeer.

How well I remember my own post-Christmas shopping sprees of yesteryear, seeking just the right gifts for my ex-wife and slavishly grateful kids in the far away mountain community of Paradise.

How could I ever forget the year that my little girl told me that fish sticks were delectable? Such big words for a little girl, I thought proudly.

So, when Dec. 29 rolled around, I made sure to include a jumbo, 24-pack of fish sticks among her Christmas gifts.

Boy, was she surprised – I could tell by her shriek of abject horror as she opened the gaily wrapped, insulated package of tiny, compacted fish logs.

Apparently, I’d misheard her earlier description of fish sticks. She’d said they were “detestable,” not “delectable.”

Like I said, such big words for a little girl…

Fortunately, I’d also brought her a swell glow-in-the-dark Slinky toy, a like-new three-legged horse and some aftershave lotion.

Subsequent post-Christmas gifts were equally enchanting. Lawn darts, for instance.

“But Daaaaaad,” my plucky kids pointed out, “we don’t have a lawn…”

“No problem,” I explained. “You can play with lawn darts anywhere – just set up a target range and loft one of those puppies into the air.”

(And, er, blithely smash the neighbor’s hummingbird feeder to smithereens…)

Then there were the Sound Gizmos. Snatched from the post-holiday chaos of a Fairfield department store, these little electronic beauties were capable of reproducing something like 300 eerie sounds not heard in nature (or in Scranton, for that matter).

My ex-wife positively loved ’em.

“I’m going to kill you – very, very soon and very, very slowly,” she’d intone fondly after each charming, 90-decibel blast from my son’s Sound Gizmo resounded through the house.

Hey, it doesn’t get any more holly jolly than that, amigos…

Originally published December 30, 2001

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