I wanted to simplify Christmas. I’m feeling crafty. I stole my friends art ideas, manufactured things using their concepts and mailed the finished stolen-idea products back as gifts. They’ll never guess I totally plagiarized the ideas because my art is terrible. They won’t recognize it as their own. They’ll think Declan helped, and no one can hate a gift that a six-year-old made from the heart.
He actually did help with one or two. Only he didn’t make all of them from the heart. He made one gift with love–that was the freebie, made out of the Spirit of Christmas. Soon, though, the Spirit of Christmas got drop kicked by the Spirit of Entrepreneurship. After that, he charged for his efforts. As usual.
“I’ll draw these dinosaurs for two dollars and all the change in your jar.”
“It’s for YOUR teacher!”
“I’ll take a handful of dollars instead.” His price is going up.
I give him a handful of pennies and two cookies. He draws a dinosaur for his teacher.
The boxes of gifts I have to mail are filled and addressed. Only one person, a friend in Wisconsin, will get a late gift. The Boy stole the boxes for a fort. An envelope won’t do.
I venture to the post office and plop the boxes on the counter. It’s the kind of village post office where they’ll soon know my name in the middle of a town that Rockwell painted on the map.
“This one can get there Saturday for nine dollars or Monday for seven.” The postmistress smiles.
“This one can go parcel or first class.” Decisions.
“First class would be great.”
“Oh, this one needs a customs form.” Simple enough. I take the form. I read the form. I frown at the form.
What’s your blood type? What are you sending? Did you send anything that could blow up? Did you mail any drugs, plants, exotic animals or your mother-in-law? Does it come from a rated R catalog? Do you like kittens? Are you a terrorist?… List the entire contents of this box and the value of each item.
I write “Christmas gift.”
“Oh, no, you can’t do that. You have to fill it out. ALL the columns.” How can a Christmas gift be a surprise if I’m listing the contents on the front of the box? And if I list the value, my friend will realize I’m a cheap ass who not only stole art concepts but didn’t even spend a lot of money on her gift.
The post office lady’s tone is serious. Customs people and IRS agents are both hired for their lack of humor. I thought post people were okay…lately. I’m told the job interview for the others consists of watching Monty Python, old Carlin, and the Redneck Comedy Tour. Anyone who considers cracking a smile isn’t hired.
I never mess with customs people at the border. It’s not wise to mess with postal workers during Christmas, either. She interrogates me. I crack.
“It’s a mug I made after stealing my friend’s idea. And some soap made by a twelve-year old entrepreneur who’s awesome. The cup’s value is practically nothing, and the soap could have been expensive but she gave me a volume discount. This gift has no value!” To make myself feel good, I put “$5” on the customs form. I list the two items, forgetting the third. I hope I don’t get caught.
Do we need to be surprised to enjoy the magic of the season? The government says no. Should we lie on the customs forms to make our gifts look more valuable? I’d like to try. I consider putting “Crack, value $6,000.” Wonder if it’d get there faster. Perhaps, but I’m too afraid of The Man to write that.
I fill out the form. She tapes it to the box. I say “Merry Christmas.” I pay much more to mail the gift than it’s worth. On the way out, I make a mental note to apologize to my friend in Wisconsin who’s not getting her gift because the post office is out of little boxes. I make a note to apologize to friends who got cards this week. If you did, it was last year’s I never sent.
Boxes gone. One more thing helping me gather momentum for the Spirit of Christmas–which keeps getting crushed by the boy and the Spirit of Entrepreneurship.
Who knows. Maybe both can live copasetically. All year long.