The pattern was established back in the winter of 2003, Ricky’s first Christmas. Matt, then 22, and Robby, 10, were locked in one of their weird competitions: Whose gift would Ricky like better? Matt had stashed away three french fries from a recent visit to the Diner, which he covered with a paper napkin and placed in a small box. He then
put that box inside another box, wrapped the whole deal, stuck a bow on it, and placed it under our “tree” — the indoor basketball hoop covered with a green fleece blanket, topped by a gold star, and decorated with a single strand of lights. (The tree was also Matt’s handiwork.) He buried his special present under the pile
of boxes — maybe three layers deep. Later on, while carting his last few gifts to the tree, he discovered the box of french fries was missing. All that was left was a pile of
shredded paper and cardboard. Remarkably, nothing else had been disturbed.
It happens every year. Carol and I are wrapping present upstairs in my study. Matt, Greg, and Robby are wrapping presents downstairs in the playroom. From time to time the “finished” gifts are hauled into the den and deposited under the “tree.” All five of us lose track of Ricky. And then, all of a sudden, we realize it’s become too quiet . . .
In 2007, the victim of Ricky’s search-and-destroy mission was a box of Godiva dark chocolate that had been ticketed for Nana. In 2010, he actually gnawed the end off a mahogany wine holder Matt had brought back for us from a shoot his ad agency had done in Argentina. (Ricky’s always been partial to wood. There’s no accounting for taste . . . )
Which brings us to Christmas Eve 2012 — two nights ago. Same deal. Carol and I upstairs. The three boys downstairs. Ricky . . . who knows?
I get that familiar foreboding. “Has anyone seen Ricky?” No answer. I rush down to the den . . . and I see small brown piles all over the carpet. But no, it’s not . . . what I think it is. Ricky has “unwrapped” and then helped himself to a box of Starbucks K-cups that had been destined for yours truly, leaving the remains all over the floor. I suppose I shouldn’t have found this surprising, since he goes crazy over the smell of joe when it sits between us in the cup-holder of my Jeep.
We figured he’d be up all night after the caffeine hit, but no, no ill effects: As usual, he slept like a baby.
Though I guess going forward I’ll have to prepare two cups of coffee on my Keurig every morning.
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