PRESENTS OF MIND It’s that time of year once again, and ever since I started seeing the first of the annual Christmas decorations appearing around town — just after Labor Day — I’ve had that queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. Parents out there know the one I am talking about. It’s that tickle you get right before something bad happens. The technical term for that particular twinge is PPS — Parental Present Syndrome — and at my house, it is most prevalent each year during December. Whoever said it is better to give than receive was either a parent or was looking through my living room window on any given Christmas morning. Don’t get me wrong. I love my children. But I love them in spite of their presents, not because of them. And no matter how hard I try, I just can’t seem to get the message across that not only is it not necessary to give me a gift, but I am truly happier without one. Back when the kids were younger, we’d have the same conversation each year. “What do you want for Christmas, Dad?” “Not a thing. I am surrounded by the warmth of my children’s love. What more could a man need?” “But it’s Christmas! We have to get you a Christmas present!” “Really, I have everything my heart could ever desire. You kids. Mom. The dog. Cable.” “We are not going to let you wake up on Christmas morning without a present.” “Well, all right, then. (Sigh.) But something small, okay?” “Okay! We love you, Dad! Can we have some money?” Of course, now that they are all grown, I no longer have to fund my own PPS, but I still have to receive and unwrap it, which is really the worst part, anyway. The irony in all of this is that I would actually pay — and pay well — to not get a present. But no one has asked me. So, in the hopes that at least one of my children sees this and takes pity on the old man at Christmas, here is a short list of items I don’t want on December 25. No more slippers. Please. I already have more slippers than Target. If I ever buy a football team, I can give all the players and the coaching staff a nice pair of slippers as a signing bonus. I have leather, cotton, vinyl, and suede. I have Garfield, the Grinch, puppies, and raccoons. I have them with lights, with sounds, with pink fringe, and with deely-bobbers. Truth told, I actually sort of like the ones with the deely-bobbers. Now that I think about it, I bought those myself. It’s not that I don’t want any more Looney Tunes neckties, but I am running out of places to hang them up. I have three Bugs Bunny ties, two Sylvesters, a Yosemite Sam, one Tweety Bird, and a Roadrunner necktie that goes Beep! Beep! Whenever I eat Acme birdseed under a suspended anvil. Insert “boxer shorts” for “neckties” in the above paragraph and re-read. I have had a beard since 1976. This would seem to imply that I am not a regular shaver. But evidently none of my children has ever seen my face because every year, like clockwork, I get a bottle of aftershave. And not just any bottle of aftershave. It is always a bottle of aftershave of the type they might make at a chicken-processing plant if they began making aftershave at chicken-processing plants. The kind of stuff you wouldn’t want to leave in direct sunlight. The kind of stuff you shouldn’t smoke around. The kind of stuff that, if you splash it on, people in your vicinity for the rest of the day wrinkle their noses and ask things like, “Is there a chickenprocessing plant on fire?” Anyway, back to my Christmas list. Please don’t buy me any of the following: a Popeil Pocket Fisherman, anything with the word “Chia” in it, a smokeless ashtray, fingerless gloves, magic X-ray glasses, sea monkeys, paint-by-number kits, Yanni’s Greatest Hits, or anything that has a pulse. I don’t need books written in foreign languages, clothing from The World’s Greatest Dad collection, skunk jerky, a rock tumbler, items requiring assembly, Ginsu knives, the three-disc collection of Bonanza bloopers, or dogs-playingpoker art. I am not being fussy or hard to get along with, here. It’s just that I still have this nice selection of items left over from previous Christmases.
Published by Downtowner Magazine. View All Articles.
This page can be found at http://bluetoad.com/article/So+It+Goes/277466/27367/article.html.