What did you get for Christmas?

Published 5:49 pm Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Nearly every morning (with the reverent exception of Sundays) a hungry gathering of guys belly up around the big, oak table that commands center stage at the diner. Men of varying attitudes, dispositions and tolerances convene to voice their early morning (sometimes, pre-coffee) opinions and observations about all things beyond their control.

“Got a coffee maker for Christmas,” mumbled Mort Ellingson as their server, Sarah, refreshed his cup for the third time. Mort had grown tired of listening to Jimmy expound on his conspiracy theory concerning Big-Pharma being in cahoots with the federal government over Daylight Saving Time — Jimmy is certain DST was concocted as a means of selling more over-the-counter sleep aids.

“Does it make good coffee?” asked Firewalker — it was too early for him to catch the irony of giving a coffee maker to someone that usually has his morning coffee in a diner.

“I got a hammer from my grandson,” boasted Harry. “Best tool on my bench,” he mused.

The entire membership of the Circular Congregation Breakfast Club offered mumblings to the affirmative, as they continued to spread jelly on toast, drizzle hot sauce on western omelets and pour gravy over hash browns. Every guy around that table understood the value of getting a tool from your grandson (Check it out — it’s in the Guy Code, section IV, covering all aspects of Grandpa/Grandson relationships. It’s a big deal!)

“I didn’t get my horse, again this year,” groused Big John Hudson. “You would think, by this time, after never getting a horse for Christmas, this would have been the year. I was so disappointed”

“You wanted a horse for Christmas?” asked Jimmy, thinking this may be his cue to return to his Big-Pharma / DST conspiracy theory.

“Not just a horse. I’ve always wanted a miniature horse. They make great pets. They’re not much bigger than a dog.”

“Like the little horse in that commercial?” asked Arnold — trying to steer clear of anything Jimmy wanted to interject. Everyone remembered the little horse in the commercial, but had no idea as to what was actually being advertised.

“That’s the kind,” answered John, with a slight catch in his throat. “I thought this might be the year my mom finally got me a horse for Christmas. I cleared out a place in the living room for its bed, bought a scoop shovel for when I take it for walks, even scheduled 12 weeks of maternity leave from work.”

Big John Hudson doesn’t believe half of the things he says at breakfast. He just says them as a means of derailing Jimmy’s fixation on — well, all things untimely. However, it’s the other half — and no one knows which half is which — that concerns the gathering around the table.

Does Big John really think his mother lost his prized cow, when it was really just an errant, wrong-number message on his answering machine? Does he really believe the woman, whose voice emanates from his navigation system, actually lives somewhere in his new truck? Will he really meet the woman of his dreams via the Internet?

With Big John Hudson, it’s difficult to discern what he believes from what he believes everyone else believes he believes. At least he doesn’t care anything at all about where the Eastern Time Zone should end — and that is a gift in itself.


Author’s note: This Christmas, I received the gift of a 16 ounce, straight-claw hammer from my 5-year-old grandson. It has a hand-rubbed wooden handle, engraved with the words, “Papa: Thanks for giving me the tools I need to build a great life. Love Aiden.” According to the Guy Code, Section IV (Grandpa/Grandson Relationships) I was allowed to cry in front of an entire living room full of people. His mother is very much aware of this loophole in the Code and should be punished accordingly.


Larry Wilson is a mostly lifelong resident of Niles. His optimistic “glass full to overflowing” view of life shapes his writing. His essays stem from experiences, compilations and recollections from friends and family. Wilson touts himself as “a dubiously licensed teller of tall tales, sworn to uphold the precept of ‘It’s my story; that’s the way I’m telling it.’” He can be reached at wflw@hotmail.com.