Physics and shopping. A perfect match.
Eventually, the door swung open and Peter stepped in, bathed in warmth and light.
“Uncle Peter!” the girls exclaimed as they grabbed his hands and dragged him towards the kitchen.
“What did you bring us?” they shouted in unison.
“Oh you'll have to find out later,” he said, “Uncle Peter's gifts are always last.”
When the girls dragged him into the kitchen his sister wiped her hands and stepped over.
“Little brother,” Kate said pulling Peter into a hug. “Help yourself to some food. You were late so we started without you.”
“So sorry about that,” Peter said, “I was finishing up with some stuff at the lab and completely lost track of time.”
“Peter can I get you a beer? Some wine?” Kate's husband Mike asked.
“Thanks, Mike. How about a brew?”
Peter grabbed one of the small reindeer dishes and began filling up his plate with turkey, shrimp dip, and crackers.
“Always work work work with you physicists,” Mike said returning with the beer. “I still don't know why you didn't take that corporate job I emailed you. The money would have been a heck of a lot better and you wouldn't have to knock yourself out at the lab all the time.”
“Well I really enjoy being in the lab,” Peter replied, “and work does have its perks.”
“Not that I've seen.” laughed Mike. “Hey come on lets get out to the tree. The girls are have been waiting for you all night and they're dying to open their presents.”
“Are you still not bringing your gifts in until everyone else has opened theirs?” Mike asked as they walked down the hall.
“Of course.” Peter laughed. “You have to let your eccentric brother in law have his quirks.”
“Oh, I don't mind,” Mike said as they stepped into the room with Christmas tree. “But one day you'll have to tell my your secret on perfect gift choices.”
While Peter nibbled at his tray and sipped the beer the rest of the family opened their presents.
The nieces each received lifelike baby dolls. Sadly Kate had forgotten the batteries so they would have to wait for the morning to play with them. Mike got a new fishing tackle box and pole and Kate unwrapped a new tennis racket and 3 months of lessons.
“OK, Uncle Peter!” The girls shouted “Your turn now. Where are your presents for us?”
“Hold your horses I'll get them,” Peter said. “This will just take a second.”
Standing Peter smiled and reaching over to his watch he spun the outer dial and hit a button on the side.
Peter picked up his beer and took the last couple sips as he stood for a moment gazing at his family. Both nieces were frozen in the air; locked in mid-jump. Mike sat looking at Kate. Both appeared quite silly frozen in mid-blink their mouths agape.
“I'll be back in a second.” Peter repeated laughing to himself as he walked outside and got in his car.
The drive down to the shopping mall took him some time even though every car on the roadway was as immobile as his family back at the house.
Getting inside the locked mall took some doing but eventually, he found a security guard. Removing the keys from the guards pocket he let himself in.
Going to the stores he needed Peter selected the appropriate gifts for everyone; careful to leave the correct amount of cash sitting in the registers before he left.
Back on the road, he made one more stop into a grocery store where he picked up wrapping paper and batteries. Pulling back up to his sister's Peter went inside, wrapped the presents, then carried them back out to his car. Returning to the spot where he had frozen time Peter spun his watch face again and hit the button.
Instantly the girls landed on the ground “Let us go with you!” they yelled.
“No no it's too cold.” he said, “You wait right here I'll be quick.” Peter laughed to himself again.
Walking out to the car he retrieved the gifts and deposited them at the foot of the tree. Immediately the girls began ripping open the packages and cheering in delight. Each girl had received a new set of clothes for their dolls as well as batteries. Mike's present was a set of new fishing lures for his tackle box and for Kate a new tennis outfit and two tubes of balls.
“Peter I really don't know how you do it each year,” Kate exclaimed, jumping up and giving her brother a hug.
“It's like you can see into the future,” Mike said examining his lures.
“Well we physicists are masters of time and space.” he joked.
“Say, Mike, how about another beer. I'm pooped.”