Trudy Andrew | Canadian Author

Tails From the Farm

All I want for Christmas is …

My father was the hardest person to buy for, not just at Christmas, but all the time. I have to say, Christmas was the worst. Unwilling to give anyone even the slightest hint over the years, he was the good-humoured recipient, of way too many bottles of cheap, smelly after shaves and colognes. When I was sixteen, I was determined to do better, to get dad a better gift, something that didn’t stink to high heaven. To that end, I relentlessly pressed him for ideas. I wanted to know what he really, truly wanted for Christmas. I wanted to give him something that would make him smile. Like him, I was born in May, and about as stubborn a Taurus as one would ever want to meet.
“So dad, what would you like for Christmas?” I asked for the hundredth time.
He … recognizing that I wasn’t going to let it go, answered, “pickled herring.”
Now, pickled herring is an acquired taste, much like smoked paling which is pronounced palling, and is smoked eel. It’s a favourite delicacy, of many Dutch from Holland. Yes, when pressed for more, paling was also on the list. From there, he just got silly. He wanted work socks, bacon, chocolate, Gouda cheese, ice cream, a hammer and nails, which I knew was ridiculous, as he had several already. To top it all off, he said he wanted poop for the garden. Being a good Dutchman, he had a green thumb, and manure was important. Taking the answers made in jest, I went to work. I bought a pair of grey woolies and began to hunt for his silly requests. He thought he was so funny? I’d fix him.
In Winnipeg, we have a wonderful store called the Bake Oven. The owners are of Dutch decent, and they fill their store with everything Dutch, as well as many wonderful things from other European countries. One never knows what will be found on those packed shelves, and I was grinning from ear to ear, when I found everything I needed, to get dad his perfect, Christmas present. I found a perfect, marzipan pig, so the bacon was covered. A chocolate construction set included a hammer and nails, perfect. Of course, I ate the unnecessary item, the handsaw. After all, he hadn’t asked for a saw. The smoked eel and pickled herring were easy, as they always had them in stock, as was the Gouda cheese. To my surprise and joy, there amongst all the other treats was a little, white chocolate toilet, complete with a generous amount of chocolate poop in the bowl! How lucky could I get? It was perfect. I had almost everything I needed, and all in one stop. All I had to do was pick up a tiny, specialty ice cream, and I’d be set.
Everything that needed to be frozen went into the socks, then straight into the freezer in readiness for Christmas morning. I could hardly wait. That morning, I waited until he’d opened all his usual gifts, then snuck away to fetch the special gift I’d readied for him. Mom had left the items that couldn’t be frozen, atop the freezer for me, and I quickly added them to the socks, tied them together with a red ribbon then ran back upstairs with them. As I placed that pair of bulging socks on dad’s lap, I couldn’t stop grinning at his confused surprise. He could tell by my smile and mom’s expression that it was something special.
I still vividly remember his chuckles as he pulled the items out, one by one. It didn’t take him long to realize that I had gotten him every one of his silly requests. I remember it as one of the best Christmases ever. It was one where I had managed to get one over on my father, and that was pretty great. After he sat there a bit, grinning at all the goodies he now had to eat, he looked my way and gruffly said, “There’s something for you in the back of the car.”
Of course, I immediately had to throw on a coat and boots, and run out to the garage to see. Freezing cold out or not, I couldn’t wait. There in the back of the old station wagon were several bags of foal feed. I had purchased a couple of starving foals I was restoring to health, and dad knew they had to be fed differently than the older horses. We both received something simple, yet wonderful that Christmas, perfect gifts. By the way, as sad and as pitiful a state as they were in when I got them, those foals soon returned to perfect health, and grew into wonderful horses.

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About Trudy Andrew

Trudy Andrew lives on a small farm just east of Winnipeg, Manitoba, where she enjoys her Morgan horses. A dreamer since she was a child, its no surprise to those who know her well that her imagination would find an outlet in writing, as it has in the past through artwork.
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 Oakbank, MB