Punch lines

We wish you a merry Christmas: If Jesus were to be born in 1996, according to the Cutler Daily Scoop:

* Ticketmaster would make $3 off each ticket to the Little Drummer Boy's performance.

* Mary's HMO would have kicked her out of the manger long before the Three Wise Men arrived.

* Actually, there would be Two Wise Men and One Wise Woman, paid 70% of what the men make.

* Mary would say, "The gifts are nice but what I could really use is some sleep!"

Adds Alan Ray, "Historians say Joseph was overjoyed to receive gold, frankincense and myrrh. These were gifts he didn't have to assemble."

Cyber-shopping was more popular than ever this year, but it's not quite as festive on Christmas morning, says Jenny Church. "Instead of shaking each present to see what's inside, you just pull up its file and click 'open.' "

Receive a present from someone you didn't, er, ah, get one for? Cutler suggests these excuses:

* "I ordered you something from a catalog and it hasn't arrived yet."

* "I accidentally included your gift in the big box I mailed to my folks."

* "Oh, you were serious about wanting that?"

In most families, the exchange of presents lasts several days, says Ray. "Today, we exchange them with relatives. Tomorrow, we exchange them with Macy's."

Santa had only one mishap last night, says Alex Pearlstein. "When he passed over the Hollywood Freeway, somebody took out the rear window of his sleigh with a slingshot."

Big news from the North Pole, says Ray. "Word has it that Mrs. Claus is divorcing Santa. She finally figured out that his merry 'Ho, ho, ho' was Ebonics."

Child experts assure parents not to worry too much if they couldn't get their kids the specific toy they wanted most. Says the Cutler Daily Scoop, "The child experts weren't the ones who got awakened at 5 a.m. with 'Where's my Elmo? Where's my Elmo?' "

* Adds Argus Hamilton, "Who says not to worry? Abbie Hoffman didn't get his Davy Crockett coonskin cap in 1955 and we're still paying for it."

A mall Santa in New Hampshire was arrested for slapping a Cub Scout after the boy pulled Santa's beard while sitting on his lap. Says Steve Voldseth, "The boy immediately went home and wrote a 'Dear Santa' letter listing all the toys he's ever wanted . . . and then mailed it to Jacoby & Meyers."


Reader Melissa Ryan of Gardena recalls that when son Jack was 3, they bought him a kid-size table and chairs for Christmas.

Since it was too large to wrap, they placed the set beside the Christmas tree and put a big red bow in the middle of the table.

On the big morning, he appeared in the doorway in his PJs, rubbing his eyes awake.

"What did Santa bring you?" his parents asked excitedly.

He toddled over to the table, pulled off the big red bow, stared at it in amazement, and walked off in hushed awe, exclaiming "A bow!"

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