During the two-hour drive up to my family’s holiday party in Bay City this past weekend, I asked my two boys what favorite Christmas gifts they received growing up.
For older son Greg, it was a SuperTechmo Bowl for his Nintendo 64. For Scott, it was Venom, a plastic replica of Spiderman’s evil arch-villain. Their choices are representative of their personalities too for reasons that I need not get into. Wife Wendy chimed in that her favorite gift as a child was Baby First-Step, a large doll that you could take by the hand so it would toddle along with you like a baby taking its first steps.
One of my very favorite finds under the Christmas tree growing up was Horrible Hamilton. HH was a giant plastic monster that lurched across the carpet on his four claws whenever its string was pulled. Cities, fortresses, whole armies fell before Horrible Hamilton’s relentless charge--so long as those cities and fortresses were built out of playing cards and plastic soldiers.
Would there be such a memorable gift among our family’s exchanges this year? As it turned out, yes there was. My youngest brother lives in South Dakota, too far away to attend our holiday get-together, but he mailed a large plastic crate filled with surprises. So heavy it required two people to retrieve it from my parent’s home and take it to the party venue, my father’s gift was protected with extreme bubble wrap, the kind that might protect dinosaur bones.
When dad stripped away the bubble wrap, we saw why it was so carefully packed. It was the large bare white skull of a buffalo. Awesome! My father has collected arrowheads, Indian beadwork and clay pipes for decades. He had pointed out some interesting looking buffalo skull artwork on a previous trip west. Still, I’m sure he wasn’t expecting this.
Though a few of the women at the party may not have looked too kindly upon this ancient artifact as a gift, it just oozed history from every crack and orifice. Possibly, it could have roamed the plains of South Dakota when Buffalo Bill hunted there. It certainly would look stately in the space above my folks’ fireplace if they had one.
Even better would be mounting it outside, above the garage door where normally you might find a basketball backboard and hoop. Dad could be the first on his block, heck--the neighborhood, to have a brooding remnant of our nation’s past standing watch over his street.
Instead, dad says it will probably go onto a wall of his computer room which is already adorned with his collections of historical artifacts. That’s cool too. Puts me in a retro mood just thinking about it. Hmmmmmmm, maybe I should hop over to E-Bay to see if I can find Horrible Hamilton.