I expect one day in the future to be awakened in the middle of the night by the insistent ringing of my telephone. It'll be, say, about 3 o'clock in the morning. It will be very dark outside.
I'll say: "Oh hell. Who in the world could do this to me?"
Then I'll yank myself out of bed and fumble through the dark. I'll pick up the receiver of the phone. A voice speaking English in a thick Swedish accent will confirm my identity and then tell me that I've been selected to be a recipient of a Nobel Prize.
"Which one?" I'll gasp.
"The Nobel Prize for Procrastination," the voice at the end of the line will say. A great pause will follow. Then the voice will purr: "Sincerest congratulations."
One of the wonderful advantages to becoming the lucky fellow to get the dubiously desirable Nobel Prize for Procrastination is that at the time you receive the news, you don't have to start worrying about what to say in your acceptance speech. You can tell yourself there's plenty of time for that hassle later. Why do today what you can do tomorrow, anyway? With a clean conscience, you can put off anything that even remotely resembles preparation.
Well here we are, just a few days away from Christmas. A cloud hovers over our heads, however, with "Christmas presents" written on it. The darn thing looks down and says: "Are you all ready for your Christmas presents for those special people in your life? You haven't procrastinated, have you?" But some of us have.
So, quickly, speaking as a procrastinator to procrastinators, here are a few suggestions for last-minute Christmas gifts:
Go to your bookshelf and find a novel, biography, short story collection or other books that gave you hours of pleasure this past year. Sacrifice your happiness for the joy of another. Blow the dust off the book and give it away as "an oldie but goodie" to someone you love.
Visit someone you have not visited in a long time. Tell this person you think the world of them and you are sorry for losing touch. Tell the surprised object of your attention that you are not procrastinating now and you are glad to be on time this year. "Hello, old friend," you should say. "How the heck are you? Happy Christmas!"
Now, "visiting" is an interesting word. We can visit someone by calling them on the telephone. We can visit in person. We can send a card or write a letter.
"Write a what? Who writes letters any more?" you ask. That is exactly the point. People use WhatsApp, Facebook or e-mail but they don't write letters any longer. For many of us, receiving a letter the old-fashioned way is like receiving a gift.