Howdy! Grab a chair an’ a beer! Well, it’s almost Christmas, that holly-jolly time of year! (Except for the poor mailman, who’s so loaded with catalogs that he waddles like a duck.) Time to get something special to make your mate’s eyes light up on Christmas morning. (No, not the old hair drier in the bathtub trick; the cops are already wise to that one!) If you’re lucky, your mate will leave hints around the house for you to find, so you know what they’d really like to find under the tree. Unfortunately, one year Reggie left a frying pan on the counter, and when she opened the new one I got her, she almost used it on my head! One thing that’s always welcome is goodies for the second love of your life. I don’t know anybody who doesn’t like dress-up stuff for their bike, so that’s a safe bet. Detail stuff, like polish, wax, and cleaners are not such a good idea, because if you’re the man of the house, you already know who’s gonna have to use them.

Another good idea when buying clothes is to get a size that you know is just slightly too large, and save the tag, because women love to have to exchange clothes for a smaller size. If she asks, “Do you think I’m that big?” you just grab whatever the article of clothing may be, look at the tag with a surprised look plastered all over your face, and yell, “How the hell did I get a large? I must have picked up the wrong one! Sorry, baby, but I saved the tag so you can exchange it!”

Kids, on the other hand, are far more difficult to shop for. Back in the Stone Age, when I was a kid, me, and most of my friends, got three or four presents, and that was it. Usually there were several small “something to open” presents, and then we got one big present, like a green transistor radio I got in 1958. Yeah, back then it was a big deal, because I could carry it around without plugging it in. It was directional, so I had to face the right direction, but at the time, I was the envy of everyone within 10 feet, which was usually only the dog… Kids now want all the latest video games, computers, smartphones, and technological miracles that you have to take out a second mortgage to buy. Not only that, but by the time you pay off your Visa card, the stuff is all out of date, and the kids are screaming, “Daaad, that (insert former technological miracle here) is sooooo 2015!” I just get the grandkids and great-grandies gift cards. It’s amazing to watch a 4-year-old log onto Amazon, pick something out, and use the gift card, complete with discount code, all by themselves. Makes me really feel my age, since I invariably louse it up when I try to order anything online. I guess when you grow up with it, you have a much easier time manipulating the interweb, and anything else that beeps, squeaks, or lights up.

When I was a kid, we weren’t shackled by do-gooders and safety regulations. We had toys like “Clackers” which were hard resin balls on strings that would click violently together when you shook them up and down, and were known to explode with the force of a nuclear blast, scattering chunks of Clacker in all directions. We also had lawn darts, which were like big dartboard darts that you were supposed to aim toward the center of a plastic ring. They stuck in the lawn, but they would also stick in other kids and small animals. I also had a matched pair of Mattel “Shootin’ Shell” .45s! They were my pride and joy. They shot plastic bullets that would knock over little green army men clear across the room. See, Junior? We had all the fun stuff!

One of the things Reggie and I enjoy the most about Christmas is the toy runs. We try to go on as many as we can, because they benefit the kids who would have no Christmas without our help. Our favorite is the annual Fresno County Hell’s Angels toy run. We’ve gone every year for nearly 20 years, and it’s gotten bigger and better every year! I’m always in awe when I watch those 18-wheelers full of toys roll into the Poverello House with hundreds of kids waiting for what will probably be their only gift. For those kids who have so little, it will be a gift they always remember, and they’ll also remember the generosity of all the men and women on the loud motorcycles who cared about them when nobody else did. Reggie always saves all the little shampoo, hand lotion, and soaps from our motel rooms to pass out to the mothers of the kids. They’re surprised that anyone remembered them, and glad to get the little luxuries that we take for granted. Reggie was a young single mom, and she remembers how hard it was to get by, and tries to help other moms who are facing the same hardship.

Yeah, Christmas is a special time of year, so make all the toy runs you can, drop some change in the red kettles, and be sure ya save all the receipts! Merry Christmas, everyone, from me and Reggie!


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