Long past are the days when I have wanted anything for Christmas. The good denizens of 62 Achewood Ct. have regularly been informed that the occasional spell of good health and suspicion of brandy is enough to keep Cornelius feeling contented to the gills for another year. Thus I was greatly surprised to discover not one but two treats under the tree while I watched the others open their gifts this year.
Philippe had spent about five minutes wrestling with a stretch of ribbon which seemed unwilling to go quietly into that good night, when beneath the tree I noticed a slender package that bore my name. It was from Téodor, bless him. After assuring him that such gestures were appreciated but entirely unnecessary, I slipped the contents from the newspaper wrapper and to my delight discovered a Compact Disc, replete with Segovia's transpositions of the Brandenburg Concertos. Warmed nearly to tears, with the old familiar sting in the nose, I thanked him sincerely and set the Disc into the shared living room player. Soon the house was filled with the crisp, thrilling boxes and squares of Bach.
The second present proved to be a self-portrait from Philippe, for which I had a spare frame in the room, and he was so delighted to see it find a home so quickly that he took a momentary break from vying against his nemesis ribbon to give me a hug.
Ere long Téodor had supplied Philippe with safety scissors and the ribbon was dispatched to the floor. The wrapping paper came off the large object and lo, there stood a curious white robot. Its packaging announced the arrival of the "ROBOSAPIEN," a name which stirred the memory. Earlier in the month Téodor had observed Philippe pining loudly for this robotic toy, and went about taking up a collection, to which I had donated a tenner, not entirely sure what robots cost these days. My donation must have seemed rather quaint, so I attempted to make reparations with the good bear but he would have none of it, noting that Ray had more than adequately covered the $89 price of the toy with a $500 donation.
I looked down at my Compact Disc's casing, which featured a "The Nice Price" sticker and a pricing label sort of carelessly crossed out with the stroke of a ball-point pen. The Disc had apparently cost Téodor $7.99. One of lesser mettle might let his mind wander to imagine that I had overpaid Téodor for my own gift, and that he had netted a handsome $400 profit for his gesture, but in the spirit of Christmas I went into the kitchen to fix a breakfast feast of french toast, lox, eggs, beans, and sausages, which was enjoyed by all. Particularly Téodor, who consumed it to the tunes playing through his new iPod.