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The Christmas War

In 1964, Larry Kunkel’s mother gave him a pair of moleskin pants for Christmas. He found that they froze stiff during the Minnesota winters, so the following Christmas he wrapped them up and gave them to his brother-in-law, Roy Collette. Collette returned them to Kunkel the next year, and the pants began oscillating between the two as a yearly joke. This was fun until it escalated:

  • One year Collette twisted the pants into a tight roll and stuffed them into an inch-wide pipe 3 feet long and gave them to Kunkel.
  • Not to be outdone, Kunkel returned them the following year compressed into a 7-inch cube and baled in wire.
  • So Collette gave them back immured in a 2-foot crate full of stones and banded with steel.
  • Collette next had them mounted inside an insulated window with a 20-year guarantee.
  • Kunkel soldered them into a 5-inch coffee can and sealed that in a 5-gallon container filled with concrete and reinforcing rods.
  • Kunkel locked them in a 225-pound homemade steel ashtray made of 8-inch steel casings.
  • Collette returned them welded inside a 600-pound safe decorated with red and green stripes.
  • Kunkel put them in the glove compartment of a 2,000-pound 1974 Gremlin crushed into a 3-foot cube.
  • Collette put them inside a tire 8 feet high and 2 feet wide and filled it with 6,000 pounds of cement.
  • Kunkel hid them inside one of 15 identical concrete-filled canisters, which he loaded into a 17.5-foot rocket ship filled with concrete and weighing 6 tons.
  • Collette put them in a 4-ton Rubik’s cube fashioned from kiln-baked concrete and covered with 2,000 board-feet of lumber.
  • Kunkel put them into a station wagon filled with 170 steel generators welded together.
  • Collette returned them inside a cement-truck tank delivered by a flatbed truck and accompanied by a crane.

Here it ended. In 1989 Collette planned to encase the pants in 10,000 pounds of glass and leave them in Kunkel’s front yard. “It would have been a great one,” Kunkel admitted. “Really messy.” But the insulated container failed during pouring and the molten glass reduced the pants to ashes. They reside today in an urn on Kunkel’s mantel.

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And this is why I got up this morning. Thank you.

Did you make this up?  Lol!  Kunkel and Colleen sound like such cool people!

I had one of those Christmas Dolls with the velvet dress and curly hair and porcelain face. My kids were tweens, I was divorced, and we had just seen Interview with a Vampire. The kids thought the doll looked like Claudia.

Anyway, any one of us would put that doll in strange places to scare another.  I'd open the bathroom door after having been in it, and I'd look down, and there 'she'd be standing, waiting for me.

The funniest was the time she was lying on my bed, beer bottle on one hand, big kitchen knife with ketchup on it on the other. 


This story kind of reminded me of how we kept "gifting" each other with that doll that year.

My friend Jennifer had a "hand made plastic fork princess" that we sent back and forth for years I believe she still has it, it shows up for any occasion unexpectedly.

Decades ago, when I was still married, my then-15-year-old brother-in-law was an inveterate present-shaker, always trying to figure out what was in the box based on the sounds it made when shook. It made giving him anything fragile or breakable a pain, but he wouldn't stop. So one year, I decided to break him of the habit...

His family had a tradition of putting up the xmas tree after they'd finished Thanksgiving dinner, and then gradually adding presents until xmas eve. They also left the tree lights on 24-7, until the week or so after xmas was over. One Thanksgiving, after the tree was up, I went out to the car and got his present: I had built an uneven, polyhedral box about the size of a kitchen garbage can. I'd taken uneven lengths of rubber bands and stapled them to the sides of the inside of the box, and then attached them to the gift from odd angles. I also threw in a handful of thumbtacks, screws and other loose trash and then sealed the whole thing up and wrapped it.

He spent the next month shaking that thing every day, trying to figure out what it was. The loose items helped disguise any sound the gift might have made, and the uneven rubberbands threw the gift around in such random patterns that the box jumped completely out of his hands a few times - Not to mention it sitting under warm tree lights for a month.

Finally, on xmas eve, I was careful to make sure he opened it in front of his parents: It was a "Tall Boy" can of PBR, three years before he was allowed to drink, nice and warm and thoroughly agitated.

At least he never shook another present from ME.

Once i wrapped up a 50 pound sack of potatoes for my Aunt Bebe  . Put it under the tree at grandma's for Christmas eve . That was 2 weeks before Christmas . On Christmas eve i watched as she opened her present . Out came a God awful smell . Every one ran out of ta house . Half of them taters rotted in that hot bag . Every year their after till she passed away she would bring me a bowl of tater salad .

one year i wrapped up a note and put it in a bigger box and then wrapped that inside a bigger box and put that in a bigger box and wrapped that .. musta been about 5 boxes at least . when she finally got the note it said to look in the freezer and of course in the freezer was another note that said to look under her pillow and under there was another note that said to look in the microwave which of course told her to look in the medicine cabinet and then that note said to look under the bed .. and that note said to look under the couch cushions which of course led to another note that said to look behind a certain book on the bookcase and that note said to look in her underwear draw and that note said to look behind the orange juice in the fridge which said to look under the rabbit ears on the tv .. i can't remember all the places i sent her but it was all over the house .. in the toaster, in the coffee maker , under the ritz crackers on the pantry shelf , under the bathroom sink , in the shower under the shampoo .. the trick was to never give her two clues in the same room right after each other .. i kept her goin from room to room and back again .. i'd say it went on for a good 20 minutes or more . and when i told her to look in her jewelery box she let out a shriek like she just hit the lottery cause by now she's figurin it must be jewelery .. where could i hide anything else ?? she'd seen corners and crevices she never knew existed in the house before .. and still there was a note .. no jewelery look in the linen closet .. but thru it all you could tell she was lovin it .. the thrill of the hunt .. finally she got a note that said to look on the christmas tree and there were a pair of earrings..took her awhile to find them cause she was lookin for another note .. i'll be honest as earrings go they were pretty much run of the mill and who knows if she even wears em anymore or not ..but she let out a shriek when she finally spotted them eeeeeeeekk .. and that 20 minutes she spent lookin is 20 minutes she'll never forget .. for a little while she was like a 9 year old girl who got an easybake oven and a barbie dreamhouse too .. she had a smile from ear to ear the whole while and kept sayin i can't believe you did this .. ( which makes me believe she didn't really know me all that well )  cause it should'nt just be about the gift .. sometimes the presentation can mean a lot more .. no ????   

One day after getting my Masters Degree in Philosophy and working at the corresponding job at an Industrial Pipe, Valve, and Fitting company I was unloading or loading some pipe from a forklift near an alley. For some reason there was some christmas wrapping paper laying around and it was the christmas season. For reasons all may speculate upon it occurred to me that I should get a small box about as big as a book and fill it with gravel and packing and wrap it up nicely even with a little bow and lay in in the alley as if someone had lost it or dropped it. From where I was working I periodically peered out to see if a passerby would pick it up. Alas, I was distracted to get something for a customer and when I came back and looked the christmas "present" was gone. I still wonder what the person thought when they opened it. 

Wishing all an early Happy Winter Solstice.




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