happy holidays

’Tis the season of giving, and I’m crazy about it. Every year I do my holiday gift shopping year-round so as to give my inner circle well-thought-out and personalized gifts, and as such, I’ve earned a reputation among my friends and family as a warm and awesome gift giver. I love the anticipation of the holidays and of my loved ones’ reactions at the gems I’ve packaged up for them this year.

However. In all my life I have never seen my father receive a single gift with grace or gratitude. He’s also never given a gift that wasn’t cash. I firmly believe that the art of giving is a multifaceted endeavor involving participation from both sides; a giver must put thought and love into the present, and the receiver must recognize the effort behind such a thing and appreciate it enough to accept it.

This man will play Sudoku all afternoon long every day for months, and if you buy him a Holiday Sudoku book, he’ll leave it at home and when you point out he never took it with him to work, he mutters, “Return it.”

One year I got him a pair of classic black Converse chucks, because he’d marveled with nostalgia when he’d seen mine, murmuring with stars in his eyes about how he used to wear those shoes when he was in high school. I thought it’d be a cute idea, and even splurged on some insoles to ease his feet of the chucks’ flat shape. “Return them,” he replied. “I’m way too old to wear shoes like that.”

When I was little and hopeful, I gave him a nice leather Guess wallet for Father’s Day. And ended up using it as my own a few years later.

It’s not just presents from me, either. My sister Stephanie (alias Moose) has secretly plotted to me that she wants to donate half his clothes on the sly, because he’s been wearing the same hole-riddled clothes for decades and he has a closet filled with new clothing other people have bought him years ago, never worn. For someone so frugal, he sure knows how to let spent money go to waste!

Last year, Moose got him a pair of hardcore, quality men’s snowboots to protect him in the blizzards during deliveries. He tried them on once, grunted that they were too hard, and had her refund the $150+ boots in favor of, picture this:

Wearing grocery bags around his stockinged feet.

. . . Inserted into pink fabric-lined black women’s boots from Target.

Supposedly, this year Moose has done the impossible and managed to draw a wild card from our father’s deck of unpredictability. She took him shopping and somehow managed to get him to pick out stuff he wanted (unheard of, as the man has never shopped for pleasure in his life) and asked him if she should gift wrap them.

“Sure, wrap them,” he told her.

It must be a holiday miracle.