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That's (Not) a Wrap!

(For those looking for an injection of Christmas spirit -- or "Christmas spirit", nudge nudge, wink wink -- feel free to have a gander over at, where the latest Zolton Does Amazon piece is hanging out: Nearly Naughty, Not So Nice.

Seriously, go see. Santa sees you when you're clicking, you know.)

Speaking of Christmas, I'm currently at my parents' place for it. But I'm not as entouraged as usual here, as my wife is still hanging out in our condo in Boston.

(We could argue here about who's the 'entourager', and who's the 'entouragee'. The point is, I'm here and she's there. Let's not bog down in semantics, shall we?)

The reason for our separation this season was -- as with most things distasteful and inconvenient in our lives -- caused by the dog. You may recall that our pooch was recently quite sickly, and subsequently fitted with a poochie pacemaker. All of this is good, and she's recovering nicely.

Which is not to say that she's recovering quickly. Not exactly, anyway. Her energy's up, and she's eating well, and she positively thrives on decorating our back room with turds. Because that's what she does. The little poopin' bitch.

Still, she's got this new electrode gizmo jabbed into her heart zapping her to life several dozen times a minute. And the docs say that until her heart tissue frays away from the jab site and scars around it -- because that's the sort of horrific thing veterinary surgeons say to people whose dogs have just been pulled back from the brink of death -- she'll be a bit 'fragile' for a while.

So the wife and I are Christmasing in shifts this year. Pre-Santa, I've flown to see my family, while she nurses the mutt and her ticker. On Christmas Eve, I fly back to Boston and the missus speeds off to her folks' place on Christmas Day, leaving me holding the canine babysitting bag. Which is also, probably, full of poop.

I tell you that mostly as filler. But also, to tell you this -- being wifeless for the holidays is a daunting and lonely prospect. There are certain, ah... shall we say, needs, that my beloved spouse fills during most of these trips that I simply cannot fill for myself. Itches that no one else can scratch. Or would want to. Very private and delicate matters, indeed.

Mostly, they involve gift wrapping.

Yes, gift wrapping. My wife's the wrapper of the household. To save time and energy, we usually have presents sent our families before we fly, and then process them when we arrive. Meaning we wrap them. Meaning she wraps them. Because I'm hopeless with wrapping paper, and a danger to myself, others and society when it comes to tying a bow. For the sake of my sanity, our marriage and Western civilization, I defer to her expertise when it comes to gift wrapping.

When she's around. Which she's most certainly not right now. And so, the wrapping duties fall to me. Which is not a good thing, for anyone involved.

So far, I've wrapped exactly one present. It was a box, nice and rectangular, very regularly shaped. It contained a gift for my grandmother, and I took it to her today, right after I wrapped it.

"It looked like a cross between a Unabomber Yankee swap and Santa sleigh afterbirth."

Actually 'wrapped it' doesn't quite capture the procedure I employed to cover it with paper. 'Swaddled it' is too cute. 'Engulfed it' sounds like I meant to waste a tube and a half of pine tree paper, when I actually didn't. I think I'll go with 'festively defiled it' to describe the result. This poor little rectangular box became a wadded tumorous football of red and green, papered only mostly right-side-out and covered raggedly with bits of Scotch tape. It looked like a cross between a Unabomber Yankee swap and Santa sleigh afterbirth.

I handed it to my Grandma. She wept for humanity. Because that's how I wrap.

In the next couple of days, I'll ugly up the gifts for my parents. And we'll all fall to our knees and curse the heavens that my wife couldn't be here to save us all from my crimes against Christmas, Santa Claus and pretty red ribbons everywhere. Also, we'll probably need more wrapping paper. And Scotch tape. And for that matter, Scotch.

Hopefully, your holidays are spent with those near and dear to you -- and especially those who can cut in a straight line and tape down an edge without ripping the paper or pinning their pinky inside the gift. As for me, I'll soldier on and try to make it home without (further) paper cuts, tearful grannies or citations from the Fashion Police, Under-Tree Division. And next year, my wife will either travel with me, or I'm getting everyone in my family a gift card.

Delivered electronically. No wrapping required. Now that's my idea of a merry Christmas.

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