Saturday, December 18, 2004


And we’ll happily supply you with the necessary implements.

Sometimes I wonder how I survived my childhood. My brother and I had wonderful, loving parents, but a few of their holiday gift choices still have me scratching my head in wonderment.

Let’s set the Wayback Machine for, let’s see... 1956. I’m four years old, and I’ve just learned that our holiday traditions are a bit different. The prior year, I had been concerned that Santa Claus couldn’t find our house because it was not festooned with Christmas decorations and lights. My parents, most likely not ready to deal with the Christmas Issue just yet, had simply said that they’d leave the outside lamppost lit, and that would do the trick.

But this year it was time for The Explanation. We were “Jewish,” whatever that meant, and so we didn’t have Christmas. No tree, no Santa. But our holiday was eight days long. Eight days of presents! OK, I think. Sounds like a reasonable trade-off to me.

So here comes the first night of Chanukah, and what do Mom and Dad give little four-year-old Elisson? A stapler.

Yes, you heard right. A brand-new Swingline stapler. And, boy, was I excited. Light a candle, get office supplies! Cool!

I loved that stapler, yes I did. For about five minutes, long enough for me to figure out how to put a staple right through my finger.

I can laugh about this now, but what kind of smacked-ass parent gives a four-year-old kid a fuckin’ stapler?

The same kind of parent that gives a five-year-old kid a pocketknife.

Yep – my cousin Andy and I got nice, shiny pocketknives when we were, what? Four or five. Couldn’t have been any older, because Andy hadn’t moved away to Florida yet.

And when we innocently showed our new “toys” to one of the neighbor kids, his mother almost had an aneurysm on the spot. She must’ve figured us for a couple of JD’s right out of “Rebel Without a Cause,” because she descended on us like the Wrath of Gawd and chased us away. “You hoodlums! Stay away from my little Jimmy with those knives!” We were embarrassed and humiliated. What had we done? These were our brand-new presents, given to us by our parents!

Oh. Mr. And Mrs. Smartbrains. Thankyew!

(Of course, I’m willing to bet that Dad has absolutely no recollection of this…and so, almost 50 years later, I guess he’s off the hook.)

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