It’s not often that I pat myself on the back (feel free to insert your own fat joke here) but I do take pride in the fact that I was one of the first people to own a Leg Lamp. Yes, that leg lamp, from "A Christmas Story" - which for the uninitiated, is not the Christmas story with Baby Jesus in the manger, but the wonderfully retro tale of a young boy's quest for "an official Red Ryder carbine-action, two hundred shot Range Model air rifle with a compass in the stock and a thing which tells time." Anyway, after buying our first house back in 2003, my next major purchase was a genuine Red Rider Leg Lamp, which I planned to display in the sunroom's full-length window for all the world to see.
I waited for its arrival with the same anticipation Ralphie had for his Little Orphan Annie decoder pin. When it finally showed up, complete with a “frah gee lay” box, which I promptly threw out (more on that later) I tore it open, placed it on its predetermined place of honor, and plugged it in. It was beautiful!
It blazed in glory all month. Cars slowed down as they passed. People stopped to take pictures. Neighbors told me how they used it as a landmark: "Turn left after you pass the house with the leg lamp..."
But then the inevitable happened. No, my wife did not "accidentally" smash it and use up all the glue on purpose. New Year's Day came. Time to put away all the holiday decorations. Only when I went to pack up the leg lamp, I realized that I no longer had the original box, You see, when it first arrived, I was still in unpacking mode from the move, so to me, an empty box was something to be thrown out. I didn't occur to me that half the fun of the lamp would be the yearly opening of the box with the straw packing material (excelsior) that protected the Major Award inside. I envisioned my family gathering 'round each year as I hauled the box out of the attic, gasping in awe as I opened it. So I did what any reasonble person would do: I emailed the company, explained my predicament, and they kindly shipped me an empty box (for $16.95!)
Now that we’re in our new house, the lamp no longer takes center stage in the sunroom, but it does have a new home in the window above our garage. Regrettably, the family has yet to gather 'round as I open the box, nor do they seem all that impressed with what's inside. But it makes me smile to see the "FRAGILE" label on it. And even though the straw tends to get stuck in the fishnet stocking, I feel it was worth the aditional expense. Come to think of it, that straw is the probably the closest thing we have to a religious decoration, since it's usually found in a manger, so maybe my lamp is Christmassy after all!