My Obligatory Sappy Christmas Post

Posted: December 26, 2009 in The Roper Files


Step out of the Borders Books with four gift cards for the family in hand; now where in the hell did I park? Hold my palm flat over my eyes and scan the parking lot; it is late afternoon and blinding rays of sunlight reflecting off the many car windshields of the massive parking lot force me to screw my eyes almost shut.

Then for some unknown reason my eyes zero in on the World Market across the parking lot. Start to wonder if perhaps they sell Tazo Wild Sweet Orange tea; what the hell, I’m here…trudge across the parking lot and detour towards their door.

Once entering the place reminds me of my early memories of the old Pier One stores. Wooden shelves filled with familiar products with strange exotic looking labels. After a few minutes of mindless wandering, I locate bags of coffee; tea must be near. Sure enough I find boxes and tins of tea, but no Tazo. I am almost out the door when I spot the tea kettles.


Got hooked on orange tea while visiting Canada last August; up until then the only time I ever drank tea was when I was sick. While walking through the lobby of a bed and breakfast I was staying at, I came across a hot water dispenser and a large display with various bags of tea. At random I grabbed a bag of Wild Sweet Orange tea; after taking one sip I slipped back to the lobby and grabbed every bag on the shelf. “This stuff is like liquid candy” I thought to myself. Also since they have to import almost everything from the US, Cokes were expensive. Cans of Monster energy drinks were $4. So I drank a lot of tea and coffee while I was there; it was just a matter of economics. While we were chatting online one night later “K” asks me why I don’t have a tea pot; good question.

Even the dollar stores always have coffee makers on their shelves but I never see tea pots for sale. So while walking through World Market I spot not only the classic white teapots but these really cool 3-piece tea cups that have a separate compartment to put the tea bags for only $5. No way I’m walking out of here without one of these; grab one without even thinking about it twice. Walk out of there with both my new purchase and an odd sense of satisfaction. Buying myself something is always a part of doing my Christmas shopping but when I find something that I not only want but actually need AND for a reasonable price to boot, I am one happy guy trust me.

 Detour by the grocery store for fresh dairy stuff on the way home. Since returning from Canada I have walked up and down the aisle at this very same store looking for Tazo Wild Sweet Orange. Every time I look they have teas with weird “New Age”-sounding names like “Bliss” and “Tranquility” but today my jaw hits the floor as I spot one single solitary box of …Tazo Wild Sweet Orange tea sitting on the shelf.

While walking out of my bank recently I found a fifty-dollar bill on the sidewalk just outside of the door to the lobby. I remember bending over and picking it up thinking: “No…it just can’t be….” and also looking for the  camera and Alan Funt Jr. to come walking towards me with a microphone . Well when I saw that box of tea, I felt pretty much the same way. “No; it can’t be…” Snatched it before I woke up; the box has a Oregon snail-mail address. So I CAN get this here; hooray!

 Get home, unlock the door and the phone begins to ring before I even have the wrapping paper off of the tea cup. It’s “K” wanting to know how my Christmas shopping went; I ask her if her package has arrived yet. She tells me No; only a magazine and some junk mail; I feel like kicking something.  We went through all this a year ago…

Long story short I mailed her two DVDs ; they didn’t get there by Christmas. She did eventually get them, but it sort of put a damper on Christmas for me.

This year I mailed presents for “K” and her son on the 7th, which was actually right before closing time (5pm CST) on a Monday. It was a medium-sized box that weighed about 11 pounds and in accordance with all of the various postal regulations as far as I knew in regards to the way it was packed, the paperwork correctly filled out etc.

When I mailed it I was told it would take six to ten business days (Monday through Friday in other words) so even at the maximum of ten days she should have gotten this by the 21st. Well the 21st came and went; no package.

 Despite rain and snow, “K” was a trouper as always and faithfully made daily vigils to her local post office, but the package was AWOL. On Christmas Eve I took a deep breath and called the 1-800 number on my receipt. Poured a big cup of coffee; these kinds of calls are never fun, especially on holidays. The phone rings and the woman who answers… (AUTHORS BLANKET APOLOGY: Look I can’t type any further without saying this…I know to some people I am fixing to come off as some sort of racist asshole…and most of the time when people say that you know they’re fixing to deliver…) …has an accent of some indeterminable origin that would make Borat sound cogent.

Now no one has to tell me I am dealing with a human being on the other end of the line; in fact I not only KNOW I am also dealing with a human being, I am fully aware I am dealing with one who is working a thankless job on a holiday no less. So I always try to be civil and polite; no matter how frustrated I am I never ever curse at  people on the other end of the phone unless of course I just want to get nowhere fast. But I couldn’t understand this good woman to save my life; her accent was thick enough to cut with a knife. After several uneasy minutes she tells me “we are investigating it, Merry Christmas” and the connection goes dead. Okay.

Hear the wind howling,  wander across my apartment and look out the window; it’s snowing. Snowing?  This here’s Texas, Texas I say …

No one here knows how to drive in the snow; oh shit!

Call the police; call the fire department. Call the air force; call out the National Guard!

The weatherman is on TV; “Don’t worry everyone. It’s not going to stick.”

A few minutes later I look out the window; the ground is turning white. My truck under the carport is covered with snow. Not going to stick, my ass!


I’m supposed to go meet my family for dinner at six; the sun goes down about the same time. As I stick the key in the deadbolt, I can hear sirens in the distance. Luckily my parents house isn’t far from here, but it seems to take forever to get there. Skid at an occasional stop sign; fortunately there isn’t a lot of traffic out. The bridge over I-30 is slippery; the city trucks that usually salt or sand the streets are nowhere to be seen. Cars fish-tail in front of me; I will be glad when this little white-knuckle drive is over. My plan is to eat and then excuse myself ASAP.

  The rest of the evening goes pretty much according to plan; dinner with the family is pleasant enough. Excuse myself and make my way home; my family usually does Christmas in two stages. Christmas Eve is Stage One. Stage Two is Christmas morning when we get together and have breakfast, then exchange gifts. The temperature is plummeting, but the snow seems to have stopped. I take it slow on the way home, only skidding at a couple of stop signs but no close calls. Get home and pull up into the driveway without incident. Wash a load of laundry to keep the water flowing through the pipes and fall asleep to the churning sound of my dryer. Outside I can hear the wind blowing; I wake up about midnight and crawl into bed, pulling the heavy winter blankets up to my chin.

 Dream about Christmas; I see myself as a myopic buck-toothed little boy discovering that Monopoly game or that ten-speed bicycle under the tree: Santa didn’t forget!

See myself getting those LP copy of Abbey Road when I was 12 or that acoustic Yamaha flat-top guitar later when I was 14. Then it all starts turning into a blur…

 Wake up, rub the crusty shit out of my eyes and look at the clock: 5:30am. There is NO reason to get up. Listening I can hear the wind howling outside; the awnings over my windows are flapping wildly.

But I can hear no one; not one car motor, the paper guy, no one.

After a while I can’t stand it any more; fumble in the dark for my glasses and wince as my bare feet touch the cold hardwood floor. Tiptoe to the window and look; the glass is frosted over.

Wipe the window glass with my fingertip and look again. Everything is a bright white, including the streets. Dive back under the covers and assess the situation: I can go back to sleep or I can get up, fix some coffee and wait for Mom to call…A couple of hours later I am awakened by the ringing phone.

Brian this is your mother…”

Oh hi Mom … I was just warming up the truck…”

Well don’t bother; the streets are frozen and are way too slick to drive on. We are going to postpone Christmas until after noon…”

Hang up the phone feeling screwed out of a really good breakfast. Pull the heavy wool blanket up to my chin and nuzzle the pillow with my eyes tightly closed. Can’t get upset about it; can’t let myself get upset about anything today. Also can’t quite drift back off to sleep as much as I want to.

Start thinking about a photograph “K” sent me of her grandson sniffing some scented candles I sent her. She told me he wanted a camera for Christmas so he could take pictures of his pet rabbit. While I was at the dollar store the other day I saw cheap digitals and thought of him; wondered if he could figure out how to work one. Then it occurred to me; I’ve never even met this kid. He doesn’t even know who the hell I am. Why should I give a shit whether he got his camera for Christmas? Then I thought of that myopic kid finding the ten-speed under the tree forty years ago…

This is silly, preposterous,ludicrous, insane.

I want to buy a camera for some 4-year-old kid who doesn’t even know me.

Toss and turn in bed; thinking about how to get a camera across international lines to that little boy, just so he won’t think Santa forgot about him….

Is this perhaps the Christmas Spirit I have heard about all of my life?

Maybe it is


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