The Ghost of Christmas Presents


‘Thinking back on a battery of gifts’

I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time wielding a corkscrew. I envy people like The Dude or even my Favorite Sister who, when I complain about not being able to wrest a cork out of a bottle, go “Oh, but it’s so easy. You just slip this gizmo here, lift, and there you go!”

A unopened bottle of wine serves as a pacifier during a family reunion. (Pretty much the only thing an unopened bottle of wine is good for)

I’m especially jealous because they both swear by those mysterious (to me, anyway) waiter-style corkscrews. When I can’t even get a bottle open with a Rabbit.

But guess what? Problem solved. A little elf named Jeff (one of my Mom’s buds at her newish home, the senior-living facility where I’m visiting her right now) listened to me whine the other day over Morning Coffee and said, “You should get one of those electric corkscrews.”

That’s not me capturing the mountains out the window on the way to visit my Mom — it’s some random person with an iPad. But the mountains are stunning, eh?

Of course I’d never heard of any such thing. An electric corkscrew? What’ll they think of next? An electric knife? (Hah-hah, they have. My Dad was an early adopter. Also of the electric toothbrush. The Christmas where he gave one of those to my mom will forever live on in infamy.)

Was this the Christmas of the Electric Knife? Hard to say, though the decade seems about right

Well. Not only did Jeff extoll the virtues of the electric corkscrew, he zoomed off to his apartment and, within minutes, had zoomed back with something in hand. “Here. Take this. I already have one. Merry early Christmas! Do you have batteries?”

The electric corkscrew, under the Tree for about five minutes

Do we have batteries?!? Favorite Sister Laura has supplied my mom with oodles of those double A’s. Because, basically, everything in her apartment runs on them. Including a new light that she got my Mom to put in her pantry. You just load the thing with a couple of AAs, stick it on the ceiling, and — voila! — every time you open the pantry door, the thing goes on. Thus making it easier to find even more AA batteries.

The electric corkscrew right before its maiden “voyage”

Anyway. This whole episode made me think back to past Christmases and past Christmas presents. In addition to the electric toothbrush, I remember the popularity of pretty much anything that ran on juice: that electric knife, electric blankets, electric hot trays (remember those?), an electric guitar my Oldest Younger Brother Scott got one year, much to his delight. We even had an electric Santa. (All of these things had cords except the Santa; nowadays if you don’t have a huge stash of batteries like my Mom, your Christmas gift opening could be a tad, well, subdued. You might want to make a Costco run.)

Apt non-cordless cartoon by George Price

Of course back then not everything was electric. There were (and are) the homemade gifts. In the photo at the top of this post you can see The Child presenting me with a picture frame decorated with jigsaw puzzle pieces. (I can remember hoping they weren’t from any of our jigsaw puzzles.)

These days I tend to “gift” people pretty much all year long. I see something someone might like and I send it to them right away. Without waiting for Christmas. (Yes, I said “send;” I’m one of those people who really hates Actual Shopping, but let me buy something with a couple of clicks? Bingo. Gift Time.)

A cute photo of The Child with her first batch of Christmas gifts. I doubt if any of them took batteries, though I could be wrong

The problem with doing this is that when Christmas rolls around I’ve sort of exhausted my Gift Idea Bank. This is not a problem with Dude Man. Right before I left on this Mom Visit he said, “Please don’t get me anything for Christmas!” And I said, “Only if you don’t get me anything either!” Done.

Thanks, Jeff. And Sande and Ed and all of you other Thoughtful Folks who’ve given me such nice gifts (already) this year.

Recent thoughtful “just because” gift from a dear pal

I’ll end with a word of caution. Speaking of “words,” here’s what can happen to your Scrabble game if your dandy new electric corkscrew makes opening wine bottles all too easy. “TAPG?”

Tipsy Scrabble

Vancouver, Washington. December 2021



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