| Today, Christmas Day, I found the "Rapid Load Multi-Purpose Tool" under the end table at the far end of the couch. I recalled seeing it there in late June when I moved the couch to try to find a ring a friend had lost. The tool migrated there last Christmas Day after I took the gift wrapping off. It is still in its hard clear plastic shell.
I'm not really sure what it does but it comes with its own holster and has an assortment of bits and blades. It is not a power tool but requires the use of my hand and wrists. The lack of power was my greatest disappointment when I examined upon opening it at home The package speaks of ratchets and torque, but not batteries or power cord.
I still have the receipt for the purchase. We bought it Christmas Eve last year. That was the day my wife realized the two of us had not found each other a present. She had been home from the hospital since Thanksgiving. Her world was filled by therapists and visiting nurses. Christmas had barely entered her mind.
Christmas Eve was a Sunday last year. The weekend before she found enough energy to go with me to the Supermarket where she found a gift for my sister-in-law. It was a Ranger Rick stuffed toy that talked. My sister-in-law has a thing for bears and this fit the bill. At dinner my wife spoke of a sweatshirt that she thought my niece would love.
She was in her manic Christmas mood. She simply had to go back and get it. I drove her back to the store, waited outside, and watched her emerge with not only the sweatshirt but two more Ranger Rick dolls, one for her brother's long time companion and the other for our dog. In the week that followed, her mood subsided until we reached Sunday. We joked that morning about hitting Walmart. The idea grew in her mind as the morning went on, but she did not want to face the crowds. So it would have to be Mario's Hardware instead.
Going to Mario's meant shopping would have to be completed by one o'clock because Mario's closes at that time every Sunday, even on Christmas Eve. I suspect the store would do the same if it was located in the Florida Keys and a hurricane was approaching. So late that morning we were off to buy the last Christmas gifts we would give each other.
We both felt we should select our own gifts. I have always feared that left alone in such a place, another person would pick up a gray box holding a sixty-eight-piece wrench set with sprockets, or whatever they are called, of every imaginable size. Why sixty-eight sprockets? I believe that one size fits all. My other fear would be that if I had such a set, Mr. Clumsy would knock it on the floor and sixty-six of the pieces would never be found.
Looking at the gift today, I realize I sort of hedged my bet. I don’t have sixty-eight pieces, but once the hard plastic comes off, the ten or so parts of this set will be loose and litter the bottom of my tool box. "Tool box" is the optimistic term I use to describe what looks like something a shoe shine boy would carry and which has nuts, bolts and screws from every project I have undertaken in the past twenty years floating around the bottom.
So now that I have found my gift again, what do I do with it? The perfect solution would be to wrap it up, place it under the little tree and unwrap it, while emitting exclamations of pleasure. "Just what I wanted," I would tell myself. Opening it would make today feel a bit like Christmas. I had exchanged gifts with my sister-in-law on the Ninth and my friend Pamela on the Eleventh. My sister had mailed me two small boxes that held videos which I kept for opening today, but I knew what they were since she told me how good they were when she watched them.
Once I got through the layers of scotch tape she had put on the package and opened the box, I found one was giftwrapped. This added a festive glow to the day. I hadn't been so thoughtful when I mailed her my two videos; then again after looking at her wrapping, perhaps the store did the work. Janet never was much for neatness.
The gives and gets of Christmas began about 11 a.m. and ended at approximately 11:03. Had my sister’s packages been taped less thoroughly, I wouldn't even have spent that much time. I did not go through the charade of wrapping presents for pets; they received their special treats without bright paper coverings they could never remove. The remainder of the day was given over to watching one video, editing my writing, going on-line to discover an article on "Being Alone At Christmas” and talking on the telephone to Pamela and Betty, my mother-in-law.
Pam was at her daughter’s house. I could hear Christmas revels in the background. Her grandchildren had gotten her up at 5:45 to open gifts. My animals waited until twenty minutes later. Putting the dog out in the semi-dark, I knocked my glasses off my head and could not find them without locating my old pair that were buried in a drawer in the house, but not hidden near the Multi-Purpose Tool.
In our conversation, Betty celebrated the ability of two people able to entertain themselves. I know she was talking about herself and I guess the other person must have been me. She reads and paints; I watch old movies and write. At her old house I used to tickle the ivories on her upright piano to pass time. I can barely read music, and could only use one hand, but I used to beat out a mean “See The Conquering Hero Come.” She wanted me to take lessons, but then playing would be work and not simply entertaining myself.
When we finished talking it was dark. I prepared dinner and ate it to the accompaniment of my dog. She sat out and Baskervilled the neighborhood. Her howls made reading the New Yorker while I ate very difficult. I could only look at the cartoons; understanding anything else with her racket going on was impossible.
Now she is inside and sleeping on my bed. Christmas is coming to an end. Despite the fears of some, I have survived and prospered and with my now found Multi-Purpose tool, I shall complete many projects in this coming year. I will be ready when they wheel in my upright piano. Wait until Pamela and Betty hear me pound out “Beer Barrel Polka” next Christmas.