The Greatest Holiday Gift Ever
As the brisk winds and falling leaves of October gave way to the frosted mornings and meager low slanting sunlight of November, Sherry Perry was in a quandary. She had no idea what to give to her hubbie of two decades plus during the coming celebration of the holiday season.
Larry Perry seemed to have it all, or, at least, plenty of enough stuff. He was not much for hobbies, as he spent most of his waking at-home hours perched in the Dad chair, centered on the family room television, with remote ready to hand. The large flat-screen was only eighteen months old, the Ultimate Sports Package still had another year to run on the subscription, and his beloved Barcalounger was showing almost no wear through its ‘Corinthian leather’ vinylized skin, so gifts related to his favorite pastime were out of the question.
Nor was Larry what one might call a fashion plate (more like a fashion fail). His 1/5th of the master closet was already full of several dozen chino uniforms in assorted drab tints, and a score or more “I’m with Stupid”-style tee shirts. Give the guy 22 pairs of white athletic socks and matching tighty whities, and he’ll never run out between laundry days. The last tie Larry ever wore was the chrome-blue clip-on — a gift on his Confirmation, from his rather foul-smelling sponsor, Uncle Jack — still moldering in the small top corner drawer of the dresser, along with 3 buttons, a large paper clip, a small cardboard peppered with a half dozen rusting thumbtacks, an exceedingly stale stick of gum, and a variety of pen caps, old blackened pennies and straight pins.
Forget the new wallet route, too. Larry liked to carry his life around with him in a four-pound Dagwood of paper, plastic and leather, all held together by a fat red elastic band. It contained everything from the original condom pilfered from his father’s stash (Larry at age 12) to his journeyman’s ID (Larry at age 23) to a coupon good for two jalapeno burgers for the price of one at the local grease shack (obtained by Larry just yesterday). There’s no way Larry would accept a new wallet — not yet. After all, he’d just gotten his current one properly broken in, and acceptably contoured to his left buttock.
Then, at last, inspiration struck Sherry Perry like a lightning bolt to the frontal cortex! She now knew how to give Larry the Greatest Holiday Gift Ever!
She began on December 17th. Moving through their kitchen, she capped the orange juice and returned it to the fridge. Peanut butter smears came off the countertop with but a few handi-wipe swipes, and the sticky jar went into the trash. Moving to the back door, she cleared the floor, filling the wall hooks with hoodies and baseball caps and jackets. She ferried the steel-toed boots to the garage utility sink for a thorough mud-scraping and scouring, then placed them at attention, side by side, at the foot of the door to the garage and Larry’s pick-up.
Continuing her circuit through their modest ranch, she fished two empty pizza boxes (and what she dearly hoped were a couple of chunks of burnt pizza crust) from beneath the sofa. Newest magazines on top, back editions on the bottom, oldest ones to the recycling. Stray 12-ounce cans were drained of their last few sips of brew and bagged for the street.
Moving down the hall, the grayest of bath towels went to the hamper, the whitest back on the towel rods. Another laundry load or two were quickly amassed from Larry socks, Larry underwear, Larry tees, and Larry denim from the varied horizontal surfaces of their bedroom (plus a few from the drapery rod and the lampshade in the corner). Upon completion of quick, but rigorous, cleansing of handles, lids, rims and surrounding floor tiles, she returned all of the household’s toilet seats to their proper down position, and flushed once for good measure. Larry stubble of days past was swiped from the bowls of both his and hers sinks.
On to the desk: mail was sorted, bills paid, checkbook balanced, solicitations trashed, age-old post-its and inscrutable notes tossed. After forging, in her spouse’s handwriting, a barely-in-time birthday card to Larry’s mother Mary, Sherry then headed to the yard, to face still more daunting labors.
Before the ensuing days were through, Sherry was thoroughly exhausted, but elated at what she had accomplished. At last, their house, yard and life bore some semblance of order: livable, sort of organized, and reasonably pleasant, with most things back in their places. And what made this The Greatest Holiday Gift Ever was that Sherry never once criticized, condemned, complained, or corrected Larry regarding any of his daily habits or any of the conditions prompting her frenzied action! In fact, she never mentioned anything about her efforts at all!
Sad, then, that clueless Larry never noticed.
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