As I was taking down holiday decorations recently, it occured to me that I am certainly not the only person in northwest Arkansas who did not receive his “dream gift” this past Christmas. Therefore, I decided to conduct a “Customer Satisfaction Survey” at our local mall, in order to determine how many people share my annual frustration with Santa Claus.
While there was no pony among my presents (not to mention a Honda Ridgeline or an Asian girlfriend), I did find a package for me marked “From Santa” that contained a sweater with an oddly alarming pattern depicting what might be either smiling insects or snarling birds. Despite misgivings, I decided to wear this questionable garment during my researches, since it is, after all, the thought that counts, even if some ideas do not have enough energy behind them to light a ten-watt bulb.
Q: Are you generally happy with your Christmas presents?
A: Leave me alone.
Conclusion: Though the Christmas season is generally associated with good cheer, it might be necessary to expand the definition of “cheer” to include disappointment and resentment.
Q: Did you receive something that you really didn’t want?
A: You should be asking yourself that question. Where did you get that hideous sweater?
Conclusion: Sometimes it really is better to give than to receive.
Q: Did you fail to receive something that you really wanted?
A: Aren’t you that wine writer? Listen, Buddy, I know someone who works in a liquor store in Sapulpa, Oklahoma, and he says that you make up all that stuff about “hints of strawberry” and “nuances of oak.” He says that wine tastes like wine and that you don’t know what you’re talking about.
Conclusion: Not everything in Oklahoma is OK.
Q: Don’t you think that Santa Claus is actually nothing more than a puppet controlled by wealthy capitalists?
A: If you don’t get away from my pretzel stand right now, I’m going to call mall security
Conclusion: My skills as an interviewer clearly rival those that have brought me renown as a calligrapher and a singer.
Despite my understandable regret over not receiving a Christmas pony, I did enjoy the traditional satisfactions that attend being in the company of my sons, the youngest of whom approached me this morning and, still filled with the good will of the holiday season, asked, “Who gave you the cool sweater, Dad? A deranged beekeeper?”
Ho, Ho, Ho, indeed.
This posting first appeared as the frame for a wine review in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on January 9, 2002. Readers will find more such articles in the electronic archives of the paper at www.arkansasonline.com. Actually, my penmanship is superb, albeit in an unconventional sense, and my singing has been compared with that of Caruso – Tony Caruso, a local automobile mechanic.