Awkward Christmas Presents

My parents had a tradition that they would always stuff new boxers/underwear into our stockings for Christmas morning. It's one of the Casey family traditions Bekah and I are continuing with our kids. (I'm not sure if my brother is passing this tradition along, but it wouldn't surprise me if he is.)

But there is a difference between what we're doing and how my parents operated. Bekah and I pick out sensible undergarments for Zu and Christian. My folks were more adventurous. The boxers my parents picked out always had an element of silliness. Like a billiards theme, or a Christmassy pattern.

There is one pair of boxers that stand out in memory. It wasn't that crazy with first inspection. On Christmas morning I found nothing unusual about the blue and white checked pattern covered with miniature bunches of bananas. I wore them just like any other boxers with no reason for concern.

Months passed.

Summer arrived and I was commuting from Everett to Marysville for a 3pm to midnight shift at Albertsons. After a hard day pulling freight off trucks and stocking the dairy cooler, I drove back south and collapsed into my bed. It was a humid night and warmer than typical for the Seattle area, so I cracked the window and laid in bed reading for a while, wearing nothing but my boxers. When I finished reading, I turned the lights off and climbed back onto my bed. I had no use for blankets as it was still warm in the apartment and the breeze from the open window was helping me relax.

Not only was it warmer than normal in my bedroom, it was also brighter than normal. The lights were all off. The TV wasn't on. The street lamp in the parking lot below our apartment wasn't shining. No candles burning. Sunrise was still a few hours away, yet there was something noticeably luminous in the room - almost lit up enough to read. I could not figure out why it was so vividly brilliant in there.

Then I noticed it. My boxers were glowing. Months had expired since pulling them out from my stocking. Any other gift I got that Christmas was probably forgotten or taken for granted. Those boxers had been worn dozens of times without any recognition of abnormalities. Yet, on that warm summer night, I found myself standing in the middle of my bedroom with the fabric around my waist being the sole source of luster.

But if you think it couldn't get worse, you're wrong. On closer inspection, I discovered new details that had been previously unnoticed.

The bananas were located on the blue squares in the checkered pattern. The white squares contained words visible only when glowing: "BITE HERE."

I'm not sure if my parents knew of this hidden message. Part of me wants to believe that they never would have bought them for me if they knew those words would appear when the lights went out. But the possibility that they had full knowledge of (and failed to disclose) what those boxers would do is disturbing.

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