Christmas Gift It was the holiday season, and Christmas was fast approaching. With the twenty-fifth only a few days away there was no more time for procrastination. I decided to go to the mall in an attempt to complete all the Christmas shopping at once. While wandering around the uniquely decorated mall, I noticed a particular store that caught my attention. Pausing for a moment to stare into the window of the shop I came across the perfect gift for my father. Stepping inside I asked the shop keeper what the price would be if I purchased item on display in the window.

The shop keeper, speaking with a thick Russian accent said "For you my boy the item is free." Being Christmas, I did not want to press my good fortune, so I left the shop quickly as possible. As I got a farther away I could hear the shop clerk laughing manically. Hesitating for a moment I thought to myself "perhaps the old Russian shop keeper was insane, or rather that the holiday season was getting to him." I did not give this matter of a " free present" another thought. Besides I had more shopping to do, so I braved the screaming kids, irritated parents and an assortment of mall rats to get the rest of the shopping done. I did the holiday gift buying in an hour or less. Deciding that my trip to the mall was over, I set off for home.

When I arrived at home I ran straight to my room and found the wrapping paper and ribbons inside a huge bag. Realizing I needed tape to complete the task, I went looking for the remnants of the scotch tape I had thrown into the depths of the enormous bag the night before when I had helped wrap my mothers gifts to the family. As soon as I found it I went to work on the job of wrapping the gift. The gift wrapping took a while and several attempts to wrap the object since it was so oddly shaped. When I had finished, the present resembled a clump of wrapping paper more so than an actual Christmas gift. I was very proud of myself since my father would never be able to guess the contents of the box now.

I stashed the gift away under our tree and left it there for what seemed like ages, although it was in reality only a couple of days. Christmas morning rolled around, and everyone in the household was in the holiday spirit. My sister had woken me up at six a. m. this morning, with a stocking brimming with goodies to stuff in my face. Bleary eyed, but secretly thrilled, I climbed out of bed.

We went downstairs to the smells of pine, cranberry, and coffee all mingling together. As usual we dove into our gifts, wrapping paper, and ribbon flying everywhere in an unheeded mess. My mom was clicking away with her camera taking pictures. When it came time for my father to open his mass of wrapping paper he had a certain glee in his eye. As he tore into the wrapping paper and found his present he seemed overjoyed to find the massive amount of smoked cheese he had received. Although it had morphed into something of a blob rather than the nice cheese log that it had formerly been sitting there on the store shelf waiting for me to purchase it.

Thinking back to that day at the mall, I realized the clerk had not told me that it is best to keep cheese refrigerated. I see now that was probably what he had found so perversely funny. Oh well, the jokes on him. We sliced that blob into pieces, spread it on crackers and had a wonderful appetizer while we finished opening our gifts on this Christmas morning.