Black Friday last week seemed like any other day to me.

That’s because I don’t buy Christmas gifts and certainly not on the Friday after Thanksgiving.

“Honey, what did we get the grandkids this year?” is usually what I ask my wife Kathy before we open gifts.

Of course I doubt most Black Friday shoppers were looking for Christmas gifts. They were probably shopping for themselves, like getting that giant TV resembling the one in Cowboy Stadium.

And there is a good reason that I don’t shop for Christmas. I am lousy at picking out gifts which may be why it’s not my favorite time of year. I don’t mind celebrating for a day, just not three months.

Regular readers may recall that my favorite book not written by Stephen King is by John Grisham.

The author that penned “The Firm,” and “The Pelican Brief” also wrote “Skipping Christmas.”

“Imagine a year without Christmas. No crowded malls, no corny office parties, no fruitcake, no unwanted presents.”

Sounds like Christmas 2020!

In grade school I made a Christmas gift for my parents in art class.

It’s not that I did a bad job. I made a pretty good ashtray out of clay and then painted it.

Ashtray! Neither of may parents smoked.

I dropped it on the bus ride home and it broke into three pieces.

Long before Super Glue, we had good old reliable Elmer’s with which I somewhat patched it back up.

I wasn’t sure how to wrap it, so I stuck it up into the tree out of sight.

Out of sight it was, as I forgot about it until later Christmas night.

The Christmas after we got married I went to Aggieville in Manhattan, looking for a gift for my wife Kathy.

After considerable time searching and several dirty looks from the cashier, I picked out a bottle of perfume.

Like the ashtray of years gone by, I later dropped it and it broke into so many pieces that even Elmer’s could not glue it back together. Stores actually closed on Christmas back then so there was no chance for an emergency run.

Yet there was one year that my Christmas gift proved successful.

Growing up in a two-story house south of town, the only source of heat was a floor furnace.

I just asked my friend Duck Duck Go to explain a floor furnace.

“A floor furnace is a type of heating system that is installed below the floor.”

I think I could have come up with that definition.

“If they are located in a hallway or small room it may not be possible to move through the home without stepping on it.”

And that we did, about every morning while getting dressed around it.

While hot air rises, it didn’t rise well enough to get the upstairs bedrooms much above freezing.

I’m surprised the pipes didn’t freeze in the upstairs bathroom.

Thus, there was a need for a downstairs bathroom and shower.

It was installed in a former closet space off the back porch. The east wall where the shower was located, was the wall of the living room.

My Dad would finish up late night chores and hop into the shower.


While I was watching “Superman” reruns I kept hearing that noise.


And again.


Finally it hit me. Dad was dropping the soap.

Soap-On-A-Rope was at least one gift that was appreciated.

Contact Tim Horan at

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