By Hank Nuwer
Christmas has passed. Weeks later, our family still had a present to unwrap. Yes, I have a story to tell.
But first I want to explain why Christmas 52 was my most unforgettable childhood holiday.
That was the year I printed a list for Santa Claus barely shorter than the Buffalo phone book. My parents warned me that money was tight. They had just bought our very first house.
At the top of the list was a set of fitters with real metal tools; a Lionel train with a steaming locomotive; a Hopalong Cassidy case with a single action .45 caliber six shotgun and a Mickey Mouse wristwatch with painted radium hands that glow in the dark.
At 7 a.m., my little sister and I got my parents out of bed.
My sister unwrapped a rubber doll that got her diaper wet.
Her cry of joy made no sense to me. Better surely would have been a clean doll.
Mom handed me a box. It had to be Hoppy’s six-shooter!
“Don’t shake it,” Ma said. “It’s fragile.”
I tore off the paper. It was a chalk statue of a boy two feet tall wearing a red crown.
“What’s the matter, mom?”
“It’s a statue of the Prague infant,” Ma said. “You know, like the infant Jesus? “
“I surprised you, didn’t I? “
Oh, definitely, I thought.
For my sister, the Child turned out to be a second gift. She and my mother have had fun for years making doll dresses from satin and sequined stones.
Sadly, one day, while sitting on my bed and bouncing a rubber ball off the wall, my stray throw knocked the baby off my dresser.
Yes, I accidentally beheaded the baby Jesus.
My mom didn’t take the news well when I brought her little chalky head.
That memory came back because Gosia and I went to rummage through an antique store in Union City, and there on a shelf sat the same baby Jesus from my youth.
“Do you think we should buy it?” ” I asked.
“Oh, bring a terrible trauma from your childhood into our home to relive it over and over again?” She mocked. “Certainly not.”
So let’s move on to the story of the memorable 2021 Christmas present.
It was an extra Christmas stocking – a chocolate bar wrapped in Family Dollar gold foil – to visit Natalia.
Except when she opened it, she found no chocolate.
The bar was a hard brick made of sand. He came with a small pickaxe, a shovel and a red brush to sweep up the sand.
The maker said each bar contained a nugget. It can be obsidian, pyrite, rainbow stone, or real gold.
The manufacturer claimed that one in every 24 boxes contained a gold coin.
The three of us put the bar on a table.
Greed has taken over.
Maybe we caught a lucky gold nugget.
I saw myself in the living room imitating Walter Huston’s dance in “Treasure of the Sierra Madre.” “Hey hey hey.”
We took turns chipping the outside of the bar with the teen tools.
We raised dust but barely dented the bar.
At this rate, it would take a year and a day to reach the nugget. The bar would make a perfect gift for someone who has some spare time.
Like your cousin Louie who spends time at the Greybar Hotel for writing a fake check.
Obviously, one kit attachment was still missing: a stick of dynamite.
Not finding a stick in our household supplies, we threw away the pieces of plastic and pulled out a carving knife.
Hack, hack, hack. The price has appeared.
Rats, instead of gold, we found a small rectangle of obsidian.
It looked like hard candy.
It could turn out to be an expensive Christmas present if swallowed by your family’s gold digger.
Rock “candy” for $ 5. Emergency room visit: $ 475. Stones removal with shock wave lithotripsy: $ 14,800. Ibuprofen to be taken with the passage of the stone fragments: $ 4.95.
In total, let’s just say the total is exactly the cost of a new Chevrolet Spark.
Not having that much cash on hand, I’m going to have to think of another Christmas stocking to give Natalia next Christmas.
Maybe I’ll go back to the Union City antique store to bail out the Baby Jesus.
I think I’ll buy an antique Mickey Mouse watch.
Disclosure: The following year my parents bought me an assembly kit with real metal tools; a Lionel train with a steaming locomotive; and a Hopalong Cassidy set of a holster with a .45 caliber single-action six-shot. They didn’t buy a Mickey Mouse wristwatch with painted radium hands that glowed in the dark. My dad said if I wore radium, “maybe someday you will glow in the dark too.”
Hank Nuwer is an author, columnist and playwright. He and his wife Gosia live on the Indiana side of the Union City state border. The views expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these views or the independent activities of the author.