The Christmas Genie
It was the middle of the Christmas season and I was exhausted from working a double shift at the mall. I’d served more than my fair share of angry customers and if I never folded a wool sweater again it would be too soon. Plus, there were all the folks who felt it would be polite to pull their masks down when they wanted to talk with me. By the time I arrived home, I was ready to collapse on the sofa and spend the rest of the evening alone, eating leftovers and playing video games.
Alas, it wasn’t to be.
Leaning against my front door was a package. The return address had been smeared away by snow and the box was battered at the corners. I brought it inside with me, wondering which of my eccentric great aunts had seen fit to send me a gift. It was likely either a sweater three sizes too large or a vhs tape that “reminded them of me.” I’d miss hearing their off-key rendition of We Three Kings this year, but they’d be safer without me visiting.
When I tore the box open, I was surprised to find an antique lamp with holly leaves hand-painted on the side. It was lovely and not at all the sort of gift I was used to receiving. The lamp had a fine coat of dust, so I grabbed a cloth and gently rubbed the surface.
A genie emerged from the spout of the lamp, twirling up toward the ceiling. He wore a red hat and there were bells tied to his fingers. Every time he moved his hands, the air filled with the sound of tinkling.
“Happy Holidays!” he said. “I am the Christmas Genie!”
“A Christmas genie?” I asked. “Isn’t that sort of… mixing two things that don’t go together?”
“It’s high concept. Don’t question it.”
“Do I get three wishes?”
“Three wishes? Ha ha! No! What do you think I am? An ordinary genie? I am the Christmas Genie! You get twelve wishes!”
I was already imagining what kind of wishes I’d ask for. A job in publishing, instead of retail. A big house for my aunts to live in. Maybe a talking dog, so I could ask it all the questions I’d always wanted to ask dogs. Things like, “what do you think about all day and why do butts smell good to you?”
The genie danced around the room, spreading his arms wide.
“I am ready,” he said. “What is your first wish?”
I took a deep breath and closed my eyes. “I wish for the coronavirus to be over.”
“What? No. I can’t do that.”
“You can’t? But I thought you were the Christmas genie.”
“I am. Ask me for something a little more… Christmasy.”
“Okay. Um, how about some Louboutins? I’ve always wanted a pair, but they’re so expensive.”
“Hmmmmmm…. no can do.”
“Fresh pancakes for dinner?”
“Well, what wish can you fulfill?”
“How about, just spitballing here, something to do with a bird? Maybe a partridge? In some kind of tree?”
“A pear tree?”
“Yes! Now you’ve got the spirit!”
He waved his tinkling fingers through the air and an enormous pear tree sprouted from the carpet. A fat partridge flew in from the bathroom and alighted on one of the branches.
I cleared my throat. “I have a feeling I know where this is going and, I don’t want to offend, but maybe I’m not the best “master” for you.”
“Too late!” he bellowed. “We’re in it now! What’s your second wish?”
“Did you say two turtle doves? I definitely heard two turtle doves.”
“WE HAVE TEN MORE TO GO! AREN’T YOU EXCITED!!!”