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The Ghost of Christmas Past

I’ve been thinking about Christmas and remembering some of the weird and wonderful things that tend to happen around us at that time. As I’m not sure what this Christmas is going to bring us, here’s something fun from the Christmas Past file.

A few years ago—a week before Christmas—I’m decorating the tree when a friend of mine bowls up to the house.

“I’m on my way to pick up the boys from Playcentre,” she says, “but I found this and thought I’d spice up your love life.”

And hands me a gift.

I open it up, and inside is a pair of handcuffs. They weren’t “real” ones, but I guessed (knowing her) she got them either from a gag gift shop or from an Adult Store.

Photo by niu niu on Unsplash

Anyway, I’m standing there, handcuffs dangling off one finger, and she says, “Where’s your Christmas Fairy for the top of the tree?”

Fairy? Why would you put a fairy on a Christmas tree? I’d always had a star. Which is what I said.

Next thing I know she’s nipped the cuffs out of my hand, grabbed the star on the topmost branch, and draped the handcuffs over one point.

“Now Santa Claus knows you’ve been nice, but you wouldn’t mind a bit of naughty,” she says, and dashes off to collect her kids.

Great. I now have a Christmas tree with a Fifty Shades effect. But I needed a laugh so I left it there.

That evening, My Beloved comes home from work, takes one look at the Christmas tree and nearly has fifty fits (not the Fifty Shades type either!). He takes the cuffs off the tree and tosses them into the bin.

Photo by Gary Chan on Unsplash

“You can’t do that,” I say. “They were a gift.”

“They were inappropriate,” he says. And disappears off to the workshop.

While his back is turned I rescue the cuffs intending to put them somewhere where he won’t find them. Probably my jewelry box (which I can’t find half the time, either!)

I manage to get as far as the bedroom when I hear him coming back. So I chuck the cuffs in the drawer of my bedside cabinet (as you do) slam it shut, and pretend I was doing something else.

He, sweet darling, doesn’t suspect a thing. I get distracted. Life happens … and my cuffs stay there, in that drawer for a year.

Next Christmas arrives and, almost to the day, the same friend lands on my doorstep with her kids at the crack of dawn. Not an unusual thing, by the way. The kids were always coming over. They especially loved to play on the waterbed.

“Come on,” she says. “You haven’t gone Christmas shopping. Let’s go Christmas shopping.”

So we went Christmas shopping.

Photo by Daniil Silantev on Unsplash

We went all over town. There were crowds, and even the freakin’ crowds had crowds. We “did” town until we and the kids were completely done. Then we went to the Warehouse.

So we’re in the Warehouse—people for Africa, music playing, kids shrieking. . . Bedlam on a sesame seed bun—and we’re walking past a display of toys.

Which is when it happens.

The music (for God-knows-what reason) stops, the noise level drops by a factor of twenty, the entire store-load of people is within hearing range of us and my friend’s eldest pipes up at the top of his voice,

“Look Mum! Those handcuffs are just like the ones Nanny Grace has got in her bedroom!!!”

I kid you not.

But this girl ain’t no wimp. Oh no.

“Why yes,” I say, wishing I could either throttle him or fall through the floor. “So they are. Pity I don’t have the badge or the gun.”

“We’ll buy them for you,” the delightful boy says, and tugs on his mother’s jeans. “We can buy them for Nanny Grace, can’t we, Mum? Can’t we?”

“Mum” couldn’t say a word. She was paralytic with laughter. Darn near wet herself. The people around us watched like we were some kind of floor show and they were waiting for the TV crew to come out of hiding.

It was completely surreal.

Apparently the kids, when they’d been playing on our waterbed, had rummaged through my drawer and found the cuffs. Never said a word to me about them . . . until then.

My Beloved thought it served me right. Laughed like a loon when I told him and presented the badge and the gun I now had to go with them.

This time, however, he didn’t toss everything in the bin. He packaged the entire lot up and put them under a tree the town had set up for gifts for underprivileged kids.

Photo by Chris Benson on Unsplash

The moral of the story? Never underestimate the curiosity of a child.

Merry Christmas.

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