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What We Want for Christmas

I attended a Christmas luncheon yesterday. A choir of older women sang traditional holiday carols flawlessly. Yet, the highlight for me was not the mesmerizing music and their jovial red vests and joyful smiles but instead the performance of a little old lady who is the troupe’s comedienne.

She stepped forward in front of her compatriots and with a little twinkle in her eyes began her story. Neither Jimmy Kimmel nor Jimmy Fallon can deliver a joke with better timing, tone, affect, and enunciation than she did, and she performed it live too in the midst of 100 folks. That’s no laughing matter because most of us amateur jokesters wouldn’t have had the nerve!

She segued into her joke from a song the group had warbled about making a list to let Santa know what your heart desires for Christmas. She said she knew a woman who hinted about her wishes days on end before the holiday. This woman told her husband repeatedly what she expected to see in her driveway on Christmas morning. Like most husbands, her spouse didn’t appear to listen. She became more explicit in telling him what she wanted. The gift wasn’t to be delivered under the tree but in front of the garage. “I want something that goes from zero to 150 in three seconds” this woman had trilled to her non-responsive hubby.

“Zero to 150” she repeated each day leading up to December 25. “No need to wrap it.”

That Christmas morning- we were told- this woman rushed out to her driveway and looked to her right and then to her left, turning in a complete circle. As our raconteur told this part of the tale, she exaggerated the head turns, and then our performer looked straight ahead at us with a bewildered gaze. Our jokester twirled around. Imitating the woman in her story, she searched for her zero to 150 surprise! And then she looked down at her feet.

She said, “There set a digital scale.”

We all howled.

Mature women like jokes that resonate. Women of a certain age understand the scenario of a nagging wife, an unresponsive partner, her desire for something extravagant and sporty and his answer to her wish – something frugal and practical. A literal answer. A comical twist. And the glaring truth of the joke which most of us accept – we gain weight as we age.

We related to her joke.

So many women in their fifties and sixties complain about husbands’ habits as though they’ve just discovered these things about their partners, despite four decades of marriage. I always elicit a stare from my pals when I declare: “It’s too bad my husband was so dang good looking when he was a young man.” Ears perk up. Brows raise. Smiles form. “If he hadn’t been so handsome, I’d have noticed how odd he was.” Then everyone guffaws.

People laugh because we’re all alike. We marry when we’re young and pretty and then as the years go on and our faces sag along with our bellies, we start noticing traits of our partners we didn’t see in the heady days of youth. Suddenly, it seems the smitten groom you married is morphing into your grumpy father-in-law or you are accused of turning into your husband’s critical mother-in-law. We start noticing DNA we hadn’t considered when blinded by attractive looks and springtime. C’est la vie. With age, we notice chinks in our armor, but we also laugh about those chinks and do not take the world or each other too seriously. We appreciate truths we’ve discovered along the way.

So, with many Christmases behind us, we enjoy listening to songs more than opening presents. We appreciate a good joke more than a good cup of wassail. And the camaraderie of friends and acquaintances over a pleasant meal in a pleasant setting entertained by pleasant folks who “get us” is a merry way to celebrate the season, to celebrate life.


  1. Great story. Thank you for sharing and making me smile. I never would have guessed a digital scale. Thanks for also reminding me of the best way to celebrate the season and life. Looking forward to the your next one.

  2. Such an adorable story which I enjoyed reading so much and the jokes are funny. It’s a composition that hits home, is reality based, and makes one chuckle and perfect timeing as we continue to mature. Mrs. Hoffman is an amazing creative writer as one can imagine the characters come alive in your mind and display an understandings how relationships with family, friends and your spouse ring out the true meaning of Christmas.

  3. Yes. I can relate to Erika’s tale. Well-done. And let’s hope this holiday season meets these modest but important criteria for all.

  4. Thank you, Erika, for this lovely story. I can certainly relate to how ‘what we want for Christmas’ changes as we mature. I used to rush down the stairs to open presents. Now I rush down the stairs to spend time with love ones that too often live too far away. The most precious gift I receive for Christmas is the time our kids spend with us. No presents needed. Just their lovely smiling faces.

  5. I always enjoy your flawless writing, Erika. Your wisdom wrapped up in wry, self-deprecating humor is a gift to us all. Happiest of Holidays!

  6. This is a great story and spot on for people of a certain age! Funny how life can fool you.

  7. You are right on point! Everything is true! This Christmas will probably be my husband’s last! He is home with me on hospice and I plan to enjoy his company and overlook his faults celebrate the season in a merry way looking over beautiful past Christmas memories of our life together during this holiday season! He was the love of my life in 1975 and continues to be in 2021! This has been a journey of true life and I embrace it despite our changes and ups and downs! Your writing is well written and very thought provoking! It really got me to think about this special Christmas season!

  8. I also believe our beliefs as to what’s important change (for the better!) as we age. Conversations with good friends, the laughter of grandchildren, a morning when my egg yolk doesn’t break when I flip it in the pan – these things bring me joy, not acquisitions or gourmet meals. And though some days it’s more difficult than others, I’ve even learned to recognize the wonderful reasons I married my husband of 48 years.

  9. Our first Christmas my husband bought me an iron. I thought my world had crumbled.
    All these years later, I could use a new iron and a glue gun and, if truth be told–a scale.
    These days seeing my granddaughters lay their heads on Pappy’s shoulder while he reads them a book, fills my heart. A full Christmas dinner table would be the best gift of all.
    Wishing you a Merry Christmas, Erika! I have enjoyed writing essays “along side” of you for so long. Hope someday to actually have a conversation together!

  10. Thank you, Erica for the gift of a hearty laugh! You’re current observations about the handsome groom of your youth ring true to me.

  11. Oh Erika This is sooo humbling and I can tell its right from the heart.
    I tell all my children “all I want for Christmas is time with them throughout
    the year.
    How we savor our long term friendships.

  12. You nailed that one on the head! I can certainly relate, and am happy to know there apparently are many more like me that feel the same way. Thanks for putting into words what so many of us feel and think. Thank you to the publishers for publishing stories that are real and relatable!

  13. I enjoyed your story Erika. Your telling of the woman’s gift anticipation was so well done I was taken by complete surprise when the humorous “punch line” revealed a digital scale. Your story lingers in my heart with a big smile on my face.
    Thanks for sharing.

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