Paul A. Ibbetson
How to accept a poorly wrapped present
By Paul A. Ibbetson
December 23, 2009

If it has been a while since you were a child waiting for Christmas morning, or whatever time of day the parental green light was given for the opening of presents, you may be a little out of touch with the true magnitude of this event. For most kids, Christmas is a magical time of both gift giving and gift receiving. This holiday event has its own magic that supersedes every other day of the year. While children perceive much more than they are given credit for, they have the tendency to have a somewhat flawed reality of their parents' economic "Santa" capabilities. That is, despite what "wish list" limitations are handed down from the parent(s), when it comes to a perusal of the gifts in view, children have a way of accessing through "blurry early morning eyes" that maybe, just maybe, every one of their special requests reside beneath the colorful wrappings of the items under the tree. Adult concerns like poorly wrapped presents don't even register on the kid scale of importance as the wrapping paper quickly turns to confetti in the child's rush to unearth the next gift. Ah, to be young at Christmas time.

Eventually, subtle understandings of the limitations of Christmas begin to shatter the youth's reality as they know it. These realities come slowly and sometimes painfully at first with hard truths, such as an understanding that no pony- not even a Shetland- will be in the last two- foot-by-two-foot box with your name on it. Eventually, the magic of Christmas from the present perspective all but fades when we become privy to the insider knowledge that Santa is sometimes constrained to a twenty-dollar limit no matter how good we have been. This is the inevitable transition we all make upon entering adulthood. It is not a bad thing, since the holiday of Christmas often takes on a higher, religious value that I believe is of much greater importance. Despite the positive nature of the transition from child to adult when it comes to Christmas, every once in a while the grown-ups should be allowed to feel that excited, childlike shiver of present expectation. To meet that need, I have come bearing gifts.

As is the case every year the goodies from the sack are political and should be just as equally expected, some will find my treats bittersweet. I want to say up front that I would like to give most in Congress a lump of coal this year as that is the most deserved gift this season. However, I am fully aware that the coal-deserving rhinos would simply toss their presents back my way with words of righteous indignation while the Liberals would accuse me of contributing to manmade global warming. Instead, I have decided to give my gift to you, the reader, in the telling of the political form of "The Night Before Christmas."

'Twas the night before Christmas, and for me and my spouse, not a creature was stirring, we both work in this house. The stocks were all hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that someday our taxes would be fair. The children were nestled all snug in their bed, blissfully ignorant of the dangers of the Fed. And mamma in her 'kerchief settled in for a snooze, while I sharpened my knowledge, with an hour of FOX news. When out on the lawn there arose such a roar, I sprang from my bed to see if it was those hippies next door. With both stealth and quickness to the window I ran, to see in my front yard, a big ACORN van. The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow illuminated an army of community organizers below. They were unloading their picket signs and having great fun; I smiled to my wife and said, "bring out my gun." When, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a "Hope and Change" sleigh, and eight big-city reindeer. With a smart and clean driver, so full of drama, I thought to myself, "could that be Barack Obama?" More rapid than vultures his minions they came, and he whistled and shouted, and called them by name. "Now Pelosi! Now Reid! Now Hillary, you vixen! On, Biden! On Grayson, On Snowe, The rhino in the mixin'. To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall! Tax away! Tax away! Tax away all! The guy in the suit whoever he be, had an eloquent voice; it was something to see. With his charismatic tone even I felt somewhat somber, until I noticed on his sleigh a big teleprompter. A plan was unfolding that fit like a glove: ACORN distracts from below, while this dirty bunch works from above. Knowing this crew was less than legit, we called the cops, grabbed our guns, but these folks wouldn't quit. Until the moment the police arrived with a crash, a scripted voice from above told us all the good they would do with our cash.

Now my yard was in frenzy, a police/ACORN mess; tomorrow the protestors would probably sue me for their own personal stress. Within less than a moment the "Hope and Change" bunch had fled, with only a smoke trail left from their sled. I thought to myself as they flew out of site, "never trust a dirty Santa, even on Christmas Eve night." Like a poorly wrapped present, it's always what's inside that matters. Just accept it with a smile. Have a very Merry Christmas.

© Paul A. Ibbetson


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Paul A. Ibbetson

Dr. Paul A. Ibbetson is a former Chief of Police of Cherryvale, Kansas, and member of the Montgomery County Drug Task Force. Paul received his Bachelor's and Master's degree in Criminal Justice at Wichita State University, and his PhD. in sociology at Kansas State University. Paul is the author of several books and is also the radio host of the Kansas Broadcasting Association's 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011 award winning, Conscience of Kansas airing across the state. Visit his website at For interviews or questions, please contact


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