Not long after Thanksgiving, Julia Crooks’s brother, David Grubman, called her on the phone with a sobering announcement.
“I have bad news about Dad,” David began.
The first thing Julia thought was: heart attack. And her father only 59!
But that wasn’t it.
“He was kidnapped,” David said.
“Then I realized he meant the bobblehead,” Julia said.
What you must understand about Stew Grubman, an accountant who lives in Chevy Chase, Md., with his wife, Cathy, is that he is impossible to buy presents for.
“Every year at Christmas, my brother and I go back and forth,” said Julia, 29. “I think last year we got him basketball socks and sweatpants.” (Playing basketball and watching sports are Stew’s main hobbies.)
“We’ve given him framed pictures of the family,” she added. “He says he likes them.” (What else is he going to say?)
“The thing is, anything he wants he buys for himself, and he can buy the much better version than my brother and I could buy.”
Then Julia saw a TV show that featured a business that makes custom bobblehead dolls. And Julia thought, That’s it! “It’s so funny to see a person in bobblehead form. I don’t know why.”
Her brother sent multiple photos, from many angles, to bobbleheads.com. In about a month — after much fine-tuning of a mold — the company e-mailed back a photo of a miniature, macrocephalic Stew dribbling a basketball.
“It looked exactly like him,” Julia said.
Alas, the Saturday after Thanksgiving the mailroom in David’s Mount Pleasant apartment building was ransacked. Packages were stolen, including one that had just arrived and that contained Bobblehead Stew.
Julia said she can just imagine the reaction the thief might have upon opening the package.
“They’re probably like: ‘What basketball player is this? An old Jewish guy that plays in the NBA?’ It’s so funny, the idea it could be on somebody’s mantel.”
Wait, why’s a Jewish guy getting a Christmas present?
Julia explained: “My mother was raised Catholic. My father was raised Jewish. We were raised Unitarian. That means we get to celebrate every holiday.”
Sadly, they’ll be celebrating this one without Bobblehead Stew. Julia said there isn’t time to order another one in time for Dec. 25.
Stew, this year, you’re getting a rare gift, indeed: this Washington Post column.
I know that many charities want your support. And many are worthy of it. But where to start? If you need a little help deciding, The Washington Post Helping Hand might be just the thing for you.
Last year, I helped select three local nonprofits that work with homeless families and teens in the Washington area. They are Sasha Bruce Youthwork, Community of Hope and Homestretch. Each is showing positive results and turning lives around.
For more information on each — and to make a tax-deductible donation — visit posthelpinghand.com. Our goal is to raise $250,000 by Jan. 6. Our total so far is $47,481.
For the past month, it seemed as though you couldn’t open the pages of The Post or click on washingtonpost.com without hearing about our big move to Franklin Square. So you’re probably wondering how it went.
From where I sit — on the northeast corner of 1301 K St. NW, overlooking the Engine 16 firehouse — pretty well. I left my old office Wednesday night and when I entered my new one Monday morning, my four orange packing crates were waiting for me. What had taken me days to pack took 20 minutes to unpack.
I feel I must give a shout-out to the moving company, if only because I like its name: JK Moving Services.
My computer was soon up and running. My phone took a little longer to troubleshoot. It turns out that my old headset doesn’t work with the new phone. I discovered this only after calling someone and hearing them exclaim, “Hello? Hello?” over and over again.
What was odd was that it was my second phone call of the day. The first one was an incoming call, and I spoke with the woman on the other end for three or four minutes — or thought I did.
I now realize that she didn’t hear a single word I said, but she gamely kept on talking all the same.
I was sincerely touched by the hundreds of emails I received from readers after Monday’s column on the death of Charlie, my family’s black Lab. The condolences were appreciated. So were the many captivating stories of your own pets, some still living, some romping for eternity on the celestial plain. Thank you.
For previous columns, visit washingtonpost.com/johnkelly.