Our fan­ci­ful fes­tive fic­tion

Central Leader - - OPINION -

Years ago, my daugh­ter and I were re­gret­ting how dif­fi­cult it was to find the right, rea­son­able gift for the likes of ec­cen­tric me.

That set off a fes­tive rou­tine. ‘‘ No gift’’ fibs, with me­dia clip­pings to back the ex­cuse. I’ve kept a file of them.

Ex­am­ple: A photo from what cricket com­men­ta­tors call ‘‘the sub­con­ti­nent’’, showed a truck piled five me­tres high with hay – and an en­ter­pris­ing cow along­side, munch­ing mouth­fuls.

My daugh­ter as­sured me that the hay was ac­tu­ally pack­ing for my gift, that the cow ate the lot, hay and par­cel, while the truck stopped at a bor­der check­point.

Ate so much, that ‘‘it ex­ploded and the out­come was spread across the bor­der which had to be closed as a re­sult’’.

She as­sured me that a look out was be­ing kept for the re­mains of the beast. If the present was found, it would be passed to me.

That’s if I wanted it af­ter what it had been through!

She said the couri­ers told her that the photo was proof that a re­quest for ‘‘a valu­able arte­fact’’ to be packed in more than usual pro­tec­tive pack­ag­ing was done as re­quired.

Another year, another photo – with the usual glib ex­pla­na­tion plus photo of earnest engi­neers star­ing into a big pipe – ‘‘ a gi­ant in­ter-city suc­tion postal ser­vice to carry mail faster, fur­ther’’, was blocked. By my miss­ing present, of course.

Another year, the rou­tine news­pa­per clip­ping showed an over­seas bus stand­ing on its bumper down a soak hole. Its freight was in the front and – well you know, don’t you?

Once she dis­cov­ered sur­vivors of the Mr Asia syn­di­cate op­er­at­ing in South Amer­ica.

She told me they had bought her si­lence with a con­tainer full of price­less Inca arte­facts in­clud­ing ‘‘a mag­nif­i­cent gold rooster, two feet high, richly dec­o­rated with pre­cious stones’’.

Ac­cord­ing to my daugh­ter’s script, af­ter the drug lords put the con­tainer into a Gu­atemala stor­age unit a sink hole swal­lowed the build­ing, con­tainer and all – dan­ger­ous things soak holes, eh?

Again, news­pa­per clip­ping and an aerial photo showed the scene.

Even named the lady next door to the hole – Maria del Car­men de Ramirez, she was – and gave the holes mea­sure­ments: 12 me­tres across and 30 me­tres deep.

It ap­peared in the pre-com­pact Her­ald so it must have been true.

One the­ory: That the con­tainer was wired to ex­plode when opened.

Another Christ­mas, this time an en­ve­lope of cinders. My daugh­ter said she ac­quired a rare doc­u­ment on dried goatskin in Brazil. From 16th cen­tury pri­ests who com­mu­ni­cated through thought us­ing ‘‘ a proven life force from out­side our so­lar sys­tem’’.

Found in the base of a tree by a man called Jose Presto, all but one of eight copies ‘‘were de­stroyed in a ter­ri­ble earth­quake in 1934’’.

My con­vinc­ingly sad daugh­ter said the one parch­ment she had brought back – I didn’t even know she’d been over­seas – was burnt in a postal ware­house in Mata­mata. She had raked up black­ened relics of what she had in­tended to be my price­less, life-chang­ing gift.

The hand-made cards just keep com­ing!

Are they all true?

I mean, would any lov­ing daugh­ter seek to mis­lead an age­ing fa­ther?

Well, yes. For us, it’s part of the never-chang­ing rou­tine of fes­tive and fan­ci­ful Christ­mas. Bet­ter than crack­ers with fee­ble rid­dles. Can’t wait.

Have a good one too.

Tall tale: This year’s Christ­mas present is lost in the post – or is it?

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