“My goodness, what could you possibly be doing that is so important I shouldn’t disturb you?”
“My Duck, I’m compiling my Christmas list. You and Santa will get a copy the minute I’m done.”
“I can hardly wait,” said Dearest Duck and then she departed my presence.
Figuratively gnawing my pencil down to a nub, I laboured over my Christmas list for half a morning. Finally, after much pondering and cogitation, my list wasn’t a very complicated compilation after all.
On a single sheet of paper entitled Harry’s Itemized Christmas List 2015 was a lone item.
1. A toy
I laid my pencil down.
Truly, all I want for Christmas is a toy.
But not just any toy.
I want a toy that will…that will…
Well, why do we want toys in the first place?”
We want toys to bring us lasting joy and happiness, eh b’ys?
On the first draft of my list I’d written: Chainsaw.
I thought such a practical gift would provide me with loads of joy and happiness. I thought how joyful I would be in the back woodlot with a brand-spanking-new chainsaw toppling the tangle of trees Dearest Duck has been complaining about for a goodly portion of our blissful — otherwise blissful? — marital years.
Often — a thousand times often — during those aforementioned years of bliss Dearest said, “Harry, my layabout love, if those old trees were chopped down we would have a lovely view of Aunt Minnie’s house.”
Often — a thousand times often — in response to Dearest Duck’s suggestion, I thought, “Frig Aunt Minnie’s house.”
On further thought, there’d be no lasting joy. Not a day would pass before Dearest Duck had moved to the next item on her Nag Harry Until He DoesIt list. I x-ed out chainsaw with my blackest felt-tipped marker, balled up my paper and fired it in the garbage.
On the second draft I wrote: State-of-the-art Surround Sound Entertainment System.
Banking on Santa for such a gift because I knew Dearest Duck would rather get me a chainsaw, I imagined the joy, the lasting happiness top-quality entertainment apparatus would bring.
I fancied myself hove off in my Lay-Z-Boy, a mug of herbal concoction at hand, watching one of my favourite movies — Australia, the one with Wolverine Hugh Jackman and that Kidman girl — on my blu-ray player. I fancied the sound of my brand-fire-new Surround Sound gear almost blowing the speakers in my iAids during the explosive bombing of Darwin in Australia’s most exciting scene.
Oh the lingering joy and happiness.
Then I fancied Dearest Duck calling me from elsewhere in the house: “Harry, my aurally-impaired love, we’re not both deaf. Turn that racket down.”
I fancied Dearest’s call but couldn’t hear her above the bombers’ roar and only when she stormed into the living room shaking a fist was I aware of her unhappiness.
I stuck Surround Sound System from my list with my felt-tipped marker, balled up my paper and fired it in the garbage.
Truly, for half the morning I worked at my Christmas list. I added items dreaming of endless joy and happiness. I subtracted items until my felt-tipped marker ran bone dry.
My final item, on the next-to-last page of my notebook, was my largest request: a Samsung 65” Curved TV suitable for wall-mounting.
I imagined boundless joy…
…but only for a second because Dearest Duck’s objection cut like a laser into my fanciful noggin: “Harry, not a chance. I’d like room to hang our pictures on the wall.”
I blotted it out, balled up my paper and fired it — along with my bone-dry marker — in the garbage.
Staring at the remaining page of my notebook, I reflected on a Christmas gift that in my childhood brought hours and hours and days of joy and endless — kinda endless — happiness.
The gift captivated me.
Beguiled and bewitched me.
Magically mesmerized me and carried me to realms of endless bliss. [This was long before Dearest Duck and decades of marital bliss, eh b’ys?]
I confess, I requested this gift half a dozen Christmas ago but Santa in his Ho-Ho, Jolly Ol’ Wisdom decided I needed a dozen pairs — Truly, a dozen pairs! — of argyle socks instead.
I finalized my Christmas list on the last page of my notebook:
1. A spin top
Thank you for reading.
Merry Christmas! May your gifts bring you joy and endless happiness!
Harold Walters lives Happily Ever After in Dunville, in the only Canadian province with its own time zone. How cool is that? Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.