See the smiling snow-woman dolly sitting on top my computer tower at work? Louella, my colleague in the next cubicle, brings her dollies out in the end of every November and quietly slips them on top of all the computer towers in the hall. It sets the Christmas mood in, she says.

Over the years I have gotten so used to seeing them and the first sight of the dolly is unimaginably joyous – as if Christmas is already upon us.

Louella isn’t the only one. All the girls in the hall trot out all sorts of decorative stuff to adorn their tables, racks, machines and clip boards. A few desks away, Anne-Marie has a 3-foot long Simba stretched out over her lamp, his tail hanging between her two monitors.

On Christmas, we gift each other something – anything, it doesn’t matter what. It’s the thought that counts. Louella gave me a pad of pink stickies last Christmas and I gift-wrapped a new box of staples for her which made her squeal in delight,”Oh, Spunky, staples! I have been lookin’ for just this size all year long!” She gave me a peck in the cheek.

Michel, down the aisle, got foam – a squarish piece from a packing material we had received from a Brazilian vendor. Marge had cut a hole in it and presented it to him and he is going around with it stuck on the back of his head, making it look like a halo and making him look like a stupid schmuck with a halo.

Mitch McPuck is the lucky one. He gets panties every Christmas, lots of panties, from the girls. Remember Mitch? The guy who steals panties from the girls’ drawers at night when there’s no one in the department? Sonya has had her panties stolen for Easter even. Of course, it’s no secret that Sonya loves leaving her panties behind in the bottom drawer for Mitch.

Someone spread the canard that Mitch McPuck lives on the Ross Ice Shelf at the South Pole with his trained penguins and that he is having a patchwork quilt made from all the panties he steals.

Of course, no one has ever seen Mitch McPuck. There was a 70-year old Tunisian named Zoheb – a maintenance electrician who used to work the weekend shift nights – he claimed to have seen Mitch once. He had come into the hall to change some light bulbs one Saturday night when he experienced a sudden tornado-like atmospheric swirl, like the vortex you see in those Tasmanian Devil comics. When the dust settled, it was Mitch, stooping over Melanie’s bottom drawer and removing a pair of mauve panties, sniffing them and then closing his eyes for an instant, in blissful satiation. In an instant there was another whirl and Mitch was gone. Zoheb remembers noticing Mitch’s cardigan – it was a patchwork cut from panties.

I can’t wait ta say Merry Christmas to everybody. Of course, this is November and still early. The newly betrothed Joey and Mary are still in Nazareth. Meanwhile, the Romans have announced a new census that will be taken for tax purposes sometime in the coming month in Bethlehem, under the supervision of Publius Sulpicius Quirinius, the Roman Governor of Syria and acting Governor of Judea. This mandates Joseph and Mary to make the arduous 10-mile long journey from Nazareth on the only mule they own. Arduous since Mary is heavy with baby Jeeze.

I know all this because I was there. I was one of the three wise men.

I swear. Would I lie to ya?