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Slice of LIfe - All I want for Christmas is cow poop

Ah, Boxing Day week. The scent of pre-Christmas desperation still clings to the air as shoppers return with their treasures.

Ah, Boxing Day week. The scent of pre-Christmas desperation still clings to the air as shoppers return with their treasures. After braving line ups to buy that special something for loved ones, this is the week the loved ones return to brave the line ups once again, this time clutching that special something along with its receipt. I've been lucky. There was only one Christmas when I was tempted to join them. That's the year that went down forever in McKinnon family history as the infamous "Vacuum Cleaner Christmas."
Our oldest son was only eight years old at the time, but even he knew it was a very bad idea. "I don't think Mom would like a vacuum cleaner for Christmas," were the words that Darcy would later wish he had heeded. Instead our son recalls his father's reassuring reply of, "You kidding? She'll love it. She's not one of those women who are into diamonds and stuff. And check it out. Not only is the vacuum cleaner cherry red but it even has a headlight. It's practically a convertible!"
He was right about the diamonds. I'm really not that kind of a woman. But a vacuum cleaner? I'm not that kind of a woman neither. The next year when I told Darcy I wanted a bread maker for Christmas he thought I was messing with him.
"How is a bread maker any different than a vacuum cleaner?" He wanted to know. "They're both appliances."
The difference, I patiently explained, was in the product. Vacuum and what do you get? A canister full of dust. Fire up the bread maker and what do you get? A loaf of bread. Which would you rather receive as a gift - a canister of dust or a loaf of fresh baked bread?
Darcy thought he had it all figured out until a couple weeks ago when we were driving home from town. As we passed a ranch I noticed a big steaming pile of manure pushed up behind the barn.
"That's what I would really like for Christmas," I told Darcy.
"A barn?"
"No. A truck load of manure."
I suppose Darcy's stunned silence was understandable. A wife dreamily unwrapping a pile of cattle droppings while her adoring husband looks on isn't the sort of image you're likely to come across in a gift catalogue; unless it's a gift catalogue for gardeners. To a gardener a load of manure is more precious than diamonds. It's black gold. Back in 2004 when disgruntled Saskatchewan Roughrider fans dumped manure on Paul McCallum's lawn, I was envious. If only I could get free manure delivered to my front door just for missing a couple field goals!
"So let me get this straight," Darcy said. "For Christmas you seriously want me to give you a load of..."
"Manure, yes. Don't you remember the gift giving formula? It's the product," I reminded him. "Just think of all the flowers and vegetables a load of manure will help produce."
Darcy drove another couple miles in silence before he said, "Wait a minute. Haven't I seen you dumping the vacuum canister into the compost bucket?"
"Well, yeees but..."
"So if the product of a vacuum cleaner is dust and dust can go into the compost and the compost can produce flowers and vegetables then that would mean a vacuum cleaner is a pretty great gift," said Darcy, looking at me with the kind of maniacal grin that only a long suffering spouse who has finally been proven right can pull off.
Good grief. It had taken 16 years but I was forced to concede that based on my very own gift receiving formula the vacuum cleaner had really been an acceptable gift after all.
But I still don't want a vacuum cleaner for Christmas.
Shannon McKinnon is a humour columnist from the Peace River country. You can read more of her writing by visiting

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