It’s barely 2019, and I have thrown up my hands. Really. Literally. I just tossed two more of them, tiny plastic hands, in the general direction of Christmas presents. Yes, it is 6 January, and Christmas is allegedly passed. Not really. Jane tells me that this very day is Christmas for the Greek Orthodox Church. And, although I have slightly lost count, the 12 days of Christmas may still be rolling off the conventional calendar. In any case, Jane’s daughter Eleanor, son-in-law Martin and grandson Mikey are celebrating a delayed Christmas present exchange with us this very afternoon (family commitments being what they have been for everyone). And here we are.

As for the hands, they are small and possibly plastic and flesh-colored. And they have a back story. Though the latter is quickly fading into the background, there to be buried with a backhoe…so let me back up.

Never one to shop very effectively, particularly for the little objects that go into Christmas stockings, I did my best. Which means going down the hill to the first available shop with the inexplicable name Perch. It is worth lingering over this matter of the name, for the contents of the shop seem in no way related. The location is “perched” on a hill. Is that it?

The answer is doubtless no. And that’s good because it doesn’t matter, does it? What does matter is that in a shop with an irrelevant name I purchased the most irrelevant goods, including these tiny hands. How many? I think there were about 10 and a small plastic bag. And being an old guy, and my December shopping far enough in the memory-clogged past to defy retention, by the time I got them out to put in Christmas stockings, well, dammed if I knew what they were. Except little whimsical things.

It turned out that these tiny hands were, in fact, soap. Hand soap, get it? And today, 6 January, when we had our belated Christmas present exchange, I knew it was time to stuff the stocking stuffers in, you guessed it, a stocking. With Jane at church preaching, I had to make a decision. How to stuff stockings for the afternoon family gathering? Being on my quadriplegic own, this was fraught. So, I knew what to do. Under the tree were some open gift bags which Jane uses as sort of stocking metaphors. So I rolled my wheelchair up to the tree and just pitched little soap hands hither and yon. Some landed in the bags, others not. It didn’t matter. For once, I was content with joyous inaccuracy and imperfection. It’s the thought that counts, after all. And also the joke.

What’s this, my son-in-law asked. He held up a tiny, pudgy and in a small clear plastic bag. Well, I told him, I just wanted to give people a hand.

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