Orange you glad to get citrus?
by Hal Jacobs
This year we've opted for a simpler, more traditional Christmas. No more cross-town buying sprees for us. No more parking-lot circling, shopping-cart-dodging, checkout-line fuming for us. No more feeling punch drunk at the sight of January's credit card bill. This year the children will be lucky if they wake up Christmas morning and get an orange.
That's right, an orange. A century ago, if you got an orange and, say, a few walnuts and raisins, you were one hotshotty kid. Back then oranges were as exotic as a $100 laser scooter, and you didn't need a helmet and protective gear to eat one.
Of course, we started planning our special Christmas early. Back in January when Al Gore was still a front-runner and George W. Bush was still cramming for his big geography test.
One day a child shouted out to no one in particular, "Next time you go shopping, buy oranges!"
"If you're good, maybe you'll get one for Christmas."
"Right. . ."
That month and the next, there were no oranges, clementines or tangerines in the house. No O.J. (the good kind, not the bad media kind), either.
The children realized just how serious we were after notes went out to their school principals and friends' parents saying they were citrus-intolerant. One taste of the sweet pulp could kill. For good measure, we cc'ed our lawyer at the bottom.
The summer passed with only one incident. During a trip to Florida, we thoughtlessly stopped at the Florida Welcome Center. The children ran ahead. Just as I turned the corner, I saw them standing in front of the welcome lady, who was handing over a paper cup of free Florida orange juice.
"Nooooooooooo!" I bellowed. Everybody in the welcome center stopped and stared, even the Gore and Bush people who were looking for new Florida voters. "Not 'til Christmas!"
The months leading up to the holidays were calmer than usual. The children seemed to lose interest in their electronics. Family dinners dragged out as they wanted to talk more.
"Can children in Florida eat all the oranges they want?"
"Which did they name first, the fruit or the color?"
"Blood oranges don't really have blood inside them, do they?"
Everything reminded them of oranges - the sun, the moon, Al Gore's face during the first debate.
Now there are only a few days left to Christmas. The children are nervous, understandably so. What if everybody else wants an orange, and there's none left?
"Plums are good, too," I say.
They look at me like I'm insane.
On Christmas morning, however, they'll wake up early and find their stockings filled with a few walnuts, raisins and, yes, an orange.
And I'll start planning next year's old-fashioned Christmas.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Friday, Dec. 22, 2000