Saturday, January 31, 2009

Jeffry P. Lindsay

"Y2K: Chinese Fundamentalist Hackers Don't Celebrate Boxing Day"

I am sitting in my living room with a shotgun on my lap. This is not, as you might be thinking, a last ditch effort to keep the kids in line until school opens up again and I get my life back. No, the shot gun is only one small piece of insurance, just in case it turns out that there really is something to this Y2K stuff and hordes of Chinese fundamentalist computer hackers come roaring down the street with crashed hard drives and try to steal all our Christmas presents. I am trying to pretend to be sane and rational about this, but if I'm not it's okay, because nobody can see me behind the huge wall of canned goods and bottled water.

Not that I really need the shotgun. I'm pretty sure that nobody could get across the moat and through the barbed wire-- I call it a moat, but actually it's just something the dog left behind after eating a whole box of Christmas chocolate. And the barbed wire is really only an attempt by my ten year-old, T.L. Bear, to put up Christmas lights.

But if somebody got through all these obstacles, and over the wall of canned goods and bottled water, and slogged through the fragments of wrapping paper and ribbon that make our living room look like the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade took a wrong turn and came through the house, they would find me sitting in my rocking chair, shotgun on my lap, desperately trying to put batteries into all the kids' Christmas presents. And maybe the whole thing would end right there, because even Chinese fundamentalist computer hackers would have pity on me.

Everybody the whole world round has just spent a week putting in batteries, and they never fit. Although to be perfectly truthful, there are not as many batteries this year. This is partly because all the stores have pretty much sold out of batteries since panic-stricken parents, terrified that there will be Y2K problems, want to make sure their kids will have working toys during the collapse of our civilization. But it is also partly because the toys don't need as many batteries this year. Last year was the "Year Of Many Loud And Obnoxious Electronic Noisemakers Requiring Thousands Of Batteries." This year was the "Year Of Many Toys With More than 9,000 Pieces." I thought this was an improvement until I tried to walk into the kitchen for a cookie and severed a major artery in my foot when I stepped on the jaw bone from a scale model of some prehistoric thing that eventually evolved into hedge clippers. You don't dare go barefoot in any room in the house unless you bring along a box of butterfly bandages and your own orthopedic surgeon.

So because I have to keep my leg elevated and I'm sitting in the rocking chair with time on my hands, I have reflected long and hard on the whole Y2K thing, and I have decided that we don't need it. It is true that, as far as marketing goes, it was a brilliant stroke. It brought gun makers in on the commercial bonanza that is Christmas, and it gave retailers a second chance to sell all those leftover hurricane supplies.

But on the down side, we really don't need another holiday right now, especially if it involves more time off from school. And in fact, I think we can seriously consider getting rid of a couple of the holidays we already have. After all, how much do you really miss Boxing Day? This is a holiday we don't even celebrate in this country any more, so it is important for us to review it and feel superior to all the foreigners who do celebrate it and so have to buy a whole bunch more stuff for another day nobody really understands.

I used to think that "Boxing Day" meant the day you got rid of all the boxes left over from your Christmas presents. Then I got older and more sophisticated and I realized that, since it was an English holiday, it didn't have to mean anything. England is a country where they have place names like "Wopping Cross," and "Tinsel-Steps On The Woad Crossing Shire," and "Leomencestireshire" (pronounced "Lemon"). And having to write names like these over and over on the dozens of government forms they have to fill out just to watch TV has made the British so tough that they figure they can pretty much do whatever they want with holidays, and if we don't like it they'll just burn our capitol again.

So they can keep Boxing Day. Whatever it might really mean to them, I have discovered the true meaning for anybody with kids. I now know that it's called Boxing Day because the kids have spent weeks eating chocolate and getting wound up about Christmas morning and all the presents they will get. And now that it's all over, there is a huge emotional letdown and the kids snap like brittle rubber bands and spend the whole day screeching at each other and trading left hooks, and that's really why it's called "Boxing Day."

At first I thought the fighting was caused by jealousy over new toys, but after close observation I realized that this was not possible, because the kids were not playing with their toys. Apparently they don't know there are any toys.

Pookie spent Christmas Day playing with wrapping paper. She made a big soccer ball out of it and kicked it through the house. The next day after the dog shredded the soccer ball, Pookie moved on to playing with empty boxes. And finally, just last night, she actually played with an actual toy that she got as an actual present for the first time. She took a 49 cent plastic airplane on a string out of her stocking and threw it at the dog. And while he chewed happily on the airplane, Pookie climbed back into a box.

So I guess I will push all those expensive toys out front and if the Chinese fundamentalist computer hackers really do come roaring down our street, they can have them. But if anybody makes a move towards one of my kids' cardboard boxes, they get both barrels.
Happy Boxing Day. Whatever that means.


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