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Posted on Sun, Dec 25, 2011 : 1:50 p.m.

A perfect Christmas Day

By Mike Ball

6:15 a.m. - The bedroom door swings open and Todd Junior launches himself onto the bed screaming, “Mom! Dad! Wake Up! IT’S CHRISTMAS!”

Dad, who was assembling and wrapping toys until twenty minutes ago, can’t open his eyes, so he groans something fortunately unintelligible.

"I told him not to come in here," shrieks Little Suzie from the doorway, nearly hitting that elusive B-above-high-C, and sending Bernie the Schnauzer into convulsions. "I told him he had to wait until the sun came up!"

"It’s Christmas, it's Christmas, it’s Ca-Ca-Ca-Ca-Christmas," chants Todd Junior, marching in pajama-footed cadence back and forth across Dad’s chest.

"I’ll make some coffee," says Mom, pulling on her robe.

6:45 a.m. - The living room has been transformed from a holiday fairyland into a red-and-green battlefield, strewn with torn paper, empty boxes and discarded stick-on bows. Dad now has one eye open and is trying to reattach the head of Little Suzie’s brand new "Burping Bernice" doll, accidentally decapitated during the debut of Todd Junior’s life-size "Johnny Bayonet Charge" play set. Bernie the Schnauzer has chewed up and swallowed his new "Lasts For Years" Teflon bone.

7:15 a.m. - Little Suzie is busy configuring the tiny computer network in her new "Barbie's Penthouse Office Suite," while Todd Junior has just discovered that his new toy fire truck is fairly ineffective in combating the experimental tissue-paper blaze he touched off with Mom's new aromatherapy candle.

Mom is making more coffee.

Noon - With both children asleep under the tree in nests of shattered toys, Dad unconscious in his chair, and Mom putting the finishing touches on her famous three-bean casserole, the family starts to arrive. Great Aunt Ellen and Great Uncle Charlie show up bearing a cake, a three-bean casserole, Carl The Dog and a garbage bag full of gifts.

12:15 p.m. - Aunt Karen, Uncle Fred, Sheldon, and Brittany help Grandma and Grandpa bring in a pumpkin pie, an apple pie, two three-bean casseroles and a garbage bag full of gifts.

12:20 p.m. - Uncle Stan and his girlfriend Stacey arrive with a plate of cookies, a three-bean casserole and two garbage bags full of gifts.

12:28 p.m. - Aunt Meg, Uncle Bob, Pammie, and the Twins come to the door with a mincemeat pie, a three-bean casserole and a garbage bag full of garbage.

12:29 p.m. - Uncle Bob heads back home to get the garbage bag full of gifts from his driveway next to the dumpster, while the women sip coffee in the kitchen and try to sort out just who was supposed to bring three-bean casserole and who was supposed to bring the ham.

1:05 p.m. - Dad, Uncle Bob and Uncle Fred set out to try to find a store open on Christmas day that might sell hams. Todd Junior, Sheldon and the Twins are in the backyard planning to "Johnny Bayonet Charge" the girls, not yet realizing that Little Suzie has deadbolted them out of the house. The girls are in the living room playing "Investment Banker Barbie."

Mom makes more coffee.

3:18 p.m. - The men come home with 18 small tins of canned corned beef and a bag of Twizzlers they picked up at a truck stop on the interstate. Grandpa, dressed head-to-foot in flannel, wool, and thermal long johns, has found the thermostat in the living room and the fish tank is starting to simmer.

3:22 p.m. - The boys have finally made it back into the house, and Aunt Meg is checking them for signs of frostbite. The girls are locked in Little Suzie's room planning Barbie's campaign for the state legislature. The dogs are in the dining room eating the ham that they found in the bottom of Grandma and Grandpa's bag of gifts.

Mom makes more coffee.

4 p.m. - The family sits down to a Christmas feast of canned corned beef and three-bean casserole. Mom bites right through her coffee mug, so she switches to White Zinfandel.

4:45 p.m. - More presents! Great Aunt Ellen bought each of the children an identical orange stocking cap, with ribs knitted into them so that they stick straight up. Apparently mistaking the kids for seven wool-topped traffic cones, the dogs slalom joyfully through them, while the adults open their gifts with unbridled enthusiasm: "Wow! A Dandruff Sentry! How did you know?"

11:30 p.m. - The football games (at least the important ones) are over. The gifts are redistributed into their garbage bags to go home, and the kids are draped lifelessly over parents’ shoulders. Ten gallons of three-bean casserole are congealing in the garbage can.

And all is right with the world.

Mike Ball is the Erma Bombeck Award-winning author of "What I've Learned So Far..." and the book What I've Learned So Far... Part I: Bikes, Docks & Slush Nuggets You can now get Bikes, Docks & Slush Nuggets on Smashwords for Nook, Kindle, and all other E-readers.



Sun, Dec 25, 2011 : 8:59 p.m.

After celebrating our Christmas morning with family and friends, I decided to relax with the Ann Arbor News. I was amazed to open my paper and find not a word of Christmas on or in the paper. Has the news got so politically correct that it can't wish its readers a Merry Christmas! What a shame they put so much advertising in the paper leading up to Christmas, but can't acknowledge it when it arrives. Signed, DISAPPOINTED

Mike Ball

Sun, Dec 25, 2011 : 9:11 p.m.

Well, at least there is this. A blessed Christmas to you!