From bicycles to games to pogo sticks, Christmas gifts are tried out, shown off


God, according to the New Testament, gave the world his only Son.

The same source says that a trio of wise men gave the baby boy gold, frankincense and myrrh.

And yesterday, to commemorate the Christian world's 1990th anniversary of the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, 9-year-old Johnny Adkins of Highlandtown got a metal detector from Santa Claus.

"I used it up [in Patterson] park this morning, but I didn't find anything," said Johnny, playing outside the 300 block of South Patterson Park Avenue with his friend Brian Monroe, who was hopping around in the cold on a pogo stick, also a gift from Santa.

Brian was able to hop up and down on the black and neon green stick seven times before falling to the pavement. Try as he might, Johnny never made it past seven.

Little Amanda Louk, 6, just stood by and watched the boys, her eyes fluttering in soft shades of pink makeup left for her beneath the Christmas tree.

Throughout Maryland yesterday, hundreds of thousands of people received gifts, most of them reportedly dropped off in the predawn hours by a fat man in a red suit seen flying across the Chesapeake Bay with reindeer hooked up to a sleigh.

You didn't even have to peek inside some houses to know what some people got, as attested to by a huge cardboard box marked "table tennis" on the front lawn of a house in the 2800 block of Alabama Avenue in Baltimore Highlands.

For Tiffany House of the 2800 block of Maisel Street in Baltimore's Westport neighborhood, the joy of joys was a brand new 10-speed Huffy bicycle, wheeled out of a secret hiding place by her mother.

"My Mom told me I had been real bad this year and wasn't going to get anything," said Tiffany, riding on the sidewalk toward a clear view of the Hanover Street Bridge across the water. "And then at the last minute she said 'Surprise, here it is!' "

Charles Young's mother said the same thing: that the behavior of the Westport youngster over the last 12 months did little to merit much more than sticks and coal from Santa, but when the 9-year-old woke up on Maisel Street yesterday he found Chinese checkers, a sweat suit, a poster of M. C. Hammer, and the Milton Bradley game for amateur surgeons, Operation.

"Mom said I wasn't getting anything," said Charles, who also got a bicycle. "But I knew Santa Claus would bring me something."

On the sprawling, deserted parking lot of the Maryland Paper Box Co. on Annapolis Road in Baltimore County, just over the line from Anne Arundel County, 8-year-old Amy Hodges was trying to learn how to ride her lavender two-wheeler from Santa.

She had the middle part down -- the actual riding -- but the starting and stopping was giving her fits.

With the 18-degree weather too severe for an education in momentum and skinned shins, the Baltimore Highlands child decided to head home to play indoors with another gift, My Little Pony.

A little more than a mile away at the Patapsco Village shopping center on Annapolis Road, Fontina Shaw, 33, worked the register at Rite Aid as last-minute stragglers made their way past sea gulls hunting down specks of food on a wind-swept asphalt parking lot.

"People are coming in for little things, like cologne," said Mr. Shaw, 33, who said he received socks, cologne and underwear from well-wishers this year.

Across the harbor in Little Italy, a 77-year-old woman walked the deserted streets of the restaurant neighborhood with a little dog, stopping for a moment on a Stiles Street bench to describe what Christmas is like "when you get up in age."

"I don't receive much, mostly money," she said, reluctant to give her name. "Money is what you can use when you get up in age, you don't need any little things for your house because you already have all that [expletive]. So I get money and gift certificates.

"The young ones are the ones who run around at Christmas giving gifts. I don't even go to midnight Mass anymore, can't stay up that late," she said. "At my age, you just want to lay down."

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