Saturday night I engaged in one of my favorite holiday traditions. After Timmy went to bed and Robby was occupied with the computer, I packed up the car and drove over to Mr. Bill's house. He was waiting for me to arrive, with all of my supplies already laid out on his dining room table. Sneaking over to his house to wrap all of the presents has transformed a dreaded chore into something I happily anticipate each year.
This time of year Mr. Bill transforms from a wonderful
neighbor into an irreplaceable Christmas elf. For weeks Scott and I
have been leaving packages and bags on his doorstep. He not only stores
them out of sight of peeping eyes, but everything that requires assembly
is magically put together when I arrive to wrap. Not having to assemble
any toys has been his standing gift to both Scott and me each year, and
I have to tell you that it is one of the best presents ever! Not only
does it save me a lot of time and aggravation, but I am assured that the
toys are assembled correctly and that all of the requisite pieces are
While I set up to begin wrapping, Mr. Bill always goes
into the living room and turns on his Greek music. The tapes are among
his most cherished possessions because they were made by his father.
Between the lively songs his Dad can be heard talking, which is probably
one of the reasons that he treasures them so much. He only plays the
tapes during our wrapping party, on his Dad's birthday and on his
birthday. I feel honored to have become part of his tradition.
the Greek music blaring, Mr. Bill sits next to me with a cup of eggnog
and regales me with tales from his childhood Christmases. He always
tells me that I overdid my shopping and teases me for my poor wrapping
abilities. Seeing the military memorabilia that I was wrapping for Robby
must have triggered more memories because he even pulled out his photo
albums and proudly shared photos from his paratrooper adventures.
I was busy wrapping, Mr. Bill shared that he would like to find a
machete similar to the one that he had when he was in the military. He
claims that the modern versions available at stores are too flimsy and
will not hold up as he chops down the brush in the woods. He never asks
for anything, so I am now determined to fulfill this wish. Today I'm
going to start calling Army surplus stores to see if I can track down
the knife. Wish me luck, because after 10 years of being a great
neighbor, friend and surrogate grandfather, he certainly deserves a nice