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A Dictionary Is the Last Word in Gift-Giving Contest

December 18, 1987|ANN CONNORS

It was bad enough worrying about getting coal in one's stocking. But a Louisiana man apparently went one better, with his "junk in a box" judged the worst gift of Christmas 1986 in a nationwide contest. Meanwhile, the best gift in the contest, which applauded the thoughtful over the glamorous, was a dictionary given to an aspiring writer. The collection of junk went to a woman who wrote that her husband hustled to the local five-and-dime store at the last minute and gave her a cardboard box filled with "an atrocious kerosene lamp, a pair of knee stockings that varicose veins never permitted me to wear, a man's plastic comb, a can of hair spray to which I am allergic, a pair of underwear three sizes too large and a cheap cardboard picture of a fat bald-headed man sitting in a boat fishing. He could not understand why I wasn't ecstatic." The dictionary went to Marie Duquette of Novi, Mich., who was resigning a secure job to try her hand as a writer. The book came with a note attached: "You're going to do fine. You're doing the right thing. I believe in you." "Only a true friend could have known how badly I needed to hear that," Duquette said. The contest was sponsored by Alternatives, a Georgia-based group that promotes "living and celebrating more responsibly and less consumptively."

--And, in a burst of inspired gift-giving in Massachusetts, the city of Waltham is picking up the tab for Christmas shoppers who receive parking tickets. Cars sitting at expired parking meters in this city near Boston still receive an authentic-looking summons tucked on the windshield. But, instead of the usual $3 fine, the ticket says: "Santa Claus has intervened for you and extends to you the city's greetings for a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year." "It seems to help stimulate some downtown traffic and a lot of good will," City Treasurer Michael Lenza said.

--Against all odds, a goose with a shattered beak that had been nursed back to health by an Easthampton, Mass., man last winter has returned. The bird, named Broken Beak by the retired barber who took it under his wing, is bolder and hungrier than ever, he said. "I whistle, she comes," added William Cater, who said the bird now eats bread from his hand.

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