Monday, December 24, 2012

My Funniest Christmas Present

I’m the oldest of five and there’s a 15-year difference between me and my younger brother, Bill.

One of our family Christmas traditions when we were young was that the siblings exchanged their gifts to each other on Christmas Eve.  One Christmas when I was in college, so I was probably 19 or 20, and Bill was four or five, he gave me a very interesting gift.

When it was Bill’s turn to give out his presents he gave me a thin package about 12 inches long.  I unwrapped it and found a clear, flat piece of plastic.  One side was a standard 12-inch ruler and the other edge was curved on one side and flat on the other.

I looked at it with curiosity, not immediately exactly sure what it was.

Bill beamed at me, “Do you like it?”

“Oh yeah,” I answered, hiding my confusion, “this is really great!  I can’t wait to use it.”

His smile got even brighter, “What is it?”

I, and all the rest of the family burst into laughter.  Fortunately, I had just set the item down on the wrapping paper and realized that it was a combination ruler/magnifier, something designed for older people to read small text. 

I explained to Bill how it worked and we examined a few books and other objects with it.  He found it fascinating and played with it a great deal that evening.  Of course, when he got his presents from Santa the next morning it was back in my possession.

I actually found this gift to be pretty useful.  As I recall, I kept it with my school supplies and used it to read equations in my textbooks.

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