Vol. 11, No. 2,640 - The American Reporter - May 6, 2005

Make My Day

by Erik Deckers
American Reporter Humor Writer
Syracuse, Indiana

SYRACUSE, Ind. -- It's a tradition that's been handed down from generation to generation, and one that I've largely ignored for my entire life. I never wear the clothes I received for Christmas right after Christmas.

That's right. I'm an ungrateful jerk who's so unappreciative of the wonderful gifts I receive, I refuse to use them immediately.

Actually, that's not true. I'm an extremely grateful jerk, and I love the gifts I receive. I feel that money truly can buy happiness, because my sense of self-esteem is tied directly to the estimated retail value of each year's haul (pre-tax, of course).

Okay, that's not true either. Honestly, I don't know why I don't wear my Christmas clothes immediately after Christmas.

It started in elementary school, when I would return to school after our month-long Christmas break (I bring that point up merely to annoy today's students, since they think I'm such an old fuddy-duddy. At least we got an entire month off at Christmas, so nyah nyah nyah!). I could immediately tell which children got new clothes for Christmas, and which children had parents who loved them.

At the age of nine, I operated under the misguided theory that the only cool presents for kids were toys. If your parents got you clothes, this wasn't so much an act of love, as an act of indifference and an indication that you were going to be cast out into the street if you didn't start acting more like "that nice boy down the street."

So these kids -- mostly girls -- would show up in their fancy new clothes and pretend they were excited and overjoyed at receiving a brand-new "outfit" and that they had " ...such a tough time deciding between this one or the blue one with unicorns so I'll wear it tomorrow because it really shows off the color of my eyes."

I just stared at them and thought "you poor schmuck. You can come and live at my house when your parents throw you out."

I was enlightened by my mother a few months later, when I made the mistake of sharing my theory with her. It seems, according to her, that parents buy clothes for their children out of love and devotion, since they want their children to look their best and to keep warm when they slept out in the garage which is where I was heading if I didn't show a little more gratitude.

I have since adjusted my theory accordingly. Now, as a father of three, it's important that I share and embrace these views, because buying clothes on top of toys can get extremely expensive. So my own kids better appreciate what they get, because my garage is pretty cold in the dead of winter.

Luckily, my own children have never echoed my old theory, so they are overjoyed at receiving clothes for Christmas, provided they're plastered with their favorite Disney characters. And they will proudly wear them the next day, often changing outfits three and four times in an attempt to display as many as they can.

I, on the other hand, still stick with my original practice of not wearing my Christmas clothes until a few weeks into January. However, I made a few exceptions this year. Like my Indianapolis Colts shirt I wore the very next day. Or the Indianapolis Colts hat I stuck on my head as soon as I pulled it out of the box.

But other than anything with the Colts on it, I prefer to wait and sneak it into my wardrobe rotation, rather than springing it on everyone the first moment I see them. Then, when they see me, they'll ask, "Hey, Erik, nice shirt. Is that new?"

And I'll play it real cool: "What, this? I've had this since last year."

Of course, since I work with a bunch of guys, I have better odds of being being struck by lightning while buying the winning lottery ticket than hearing one of them say "Nice shirt. Is that new?"

However, this bias against clothes does not extend to non-clothing items. Much to the consternation of my wife, I have been known to spend the last six hours of Christmas night in front of the computer, playing my new computer game. I happily broke out my new cordless drill and started tightening screws and making holes throughout the house. And whenever I receive a Barnes & Noble gift card, I can usually be found the next morning, standing in front of the store two hours before opening time.

Wearing my new Colts winter parka, Colts snow pants, and Colts electric socks, of course.

Copyright 2005 Joe Shea The American Reporter. All Rights Reserved.