Grudgingly, grumpily, I said “Why, that looks an awful lot like the picture on eBay.”

Fred smiled wider. “And I see that you got all the lights to work.” Fred smiled some more and nodded. “I hate you.” If possible, Fred smiled even wider, but pretended to not understand. “Why, Bessie?!” “Because you always do this shit! You always swoop in and save the day!” “I just don’t give up,” he said smugly. Bastard. So I made him help me decorate the tree.
“I really do hate you sometimes, you know,” I told him as we were putting ornaments on the tree. “That’s okay, Bessie. I hate you sometimes, too,” he said. I think he was just saying that to make me feel better.
* * *
Fred called me from work yesterday. “You got a Christmas card,” he told me. “Do you want me to bring it home, or throw it away?” “Odd,” I said. “I haven’t worked there for over two years. Why would someone send me a card there? Bring it home so I can see it.” And he brought it home, and all was made clear. It was from my old friends George and Laura! Pardon me for a moment while I do my “I am special, for I received a Christmas card from Our President and The First Lady, and you did not” dance.
Return address? The White House. But it’s postmarked Crawford, TX, where George and Laura have a ranch. Oh, I certainly remember the good times, sitting around the fire and making fun of Al Gore (George does a mean imitation) and Tom Daschle, and trying to pretend Laura and George weren’t groping each other. The front of the card. I don’t want to tell tales out of school, but rumor has it that Bill Clinton used a certain appendage to play “Mary Had a Little Lamb” during the 1997 Christmas party. That Laura always did have such nice handwriting. Hallmark. When you care enough to use taxpayers’ money to send the very best. Honestly? I’m touched. I really am.