Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, every creature was stirring except for my spouse.
He sprawled on the couch, drinking beer after beer, along with Uncle Timmy, who kept yelling “Cheers!”
“It’s the Twelve Beers of Christmas,” he said with a grin. And we’re staying all week? Oh please, where’s the gin?
The stockings weren’t hung by the chimney with care because there were no stockings of any kind there.
I’d ordered online with “Economy Shipping,” but no packages arrived. Where’s that gin for sipping?
The children were not nestled snug in their beds, but instead were sugared up out of their heads.
My Dad had insisted on making hot cocoa, despite the fact that it made the kids loco.
It’s got too much caffeine; they’ll be up all night. And kids plus Florida décor? A fright!
“Away from that couch! Off Grandma’s white rug! Now go wash your hands. Put down that mug!”
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, it sounded like the hiss of a cat being battered.
“Just the sprinklers,” Dad said, turning up the TV. The sound of Fox News filled him with glee.
The moon on the breast of the freshly cut grass reminded me that the evening was starting to pass.
And since none of my packages were coming, I supposed, I had to get to Walgreens before it closed.
But, oh, I fretted. What presents could I get? A Clapper? A Snuggie? A new Chia Pet?
Celine Dion perfume? Some pore-cleansing cream? A jar of mixed nuts? Trial-sized Listerine?
When what to my wondering eyes should appear, but that lovely old truck, brown as any reindeer.
With a little old driver whose eyes were afire; he was the real deal, not a seasonal hire.
His droll little mouth was drawn up in a bow, until, that is, he saw that the sprinklers aflow.
“Hey,” he said to me with a scoff, “I can’t deliver if you don’t turn those off.”
I started to panic, as frantic as could be. “Dad, I need help, turn off the TV!”
But Dad in his recliner was snoring away. It was all up to me to save the day.
I ran to the garage for the sprinkler control box. Somehow I had to get the water shut off!
I opened the cover, then let out a groan. My dad had labeled each little zone.
With teeny typed stickers, all the way around the dial: Flower bed, palm tree, pachysandra pile.
North bed, south bed, sidewalk, flower trough. West lawn, south lawn, but oh, where was OFF?
I grabbed the dial and just started turning, past lawns north and east, the cycles churning.
I heard a clunk. The water died to a trickle. Was the UPS man still there? Or was he too fickle?
I opened the garage door. Was I too late? And now I was stressed. Walgreens closed at eight!
The door arose revealing our large Christmas haul. Box upon box, packages for all.
He spoke not a word but went straight to his work, carrying so many cartons I felt like a jerk.
From eBay and Walmart and of course Amazon. BestBuy, Old Navy, even Batteries.com.
I thanked him profusely, “Oh, how relieved I am…” But he cut me off saying, “Please sign here, ma’am.”
He strode to his truck and put it gear, then paused and smiled at me with cheer.
I heard him exclaim, a criticism vocal, “Merry Christmas to all, but next year shop local.”
— Sue Gelber
Sue Gelber is a New Englander turned Chicagoan now living in Colorado. She is also a part-time Montanan, although she does not own a cowboy hat. Her work has appeared in The Chicago Tribune, The Examined Life Journal and Realize Magazine. For several years she penned a local fitness column for Patch.com. She recently switched to decaf, however, so she suspects that her best days are behind her. When the mood is right, she blogs at lifeoutsidethecomfortzone.com.