Christmas Gift Giving with Dad

At Christmas we often think of other years with the family.  And no family reminisces would be complete without mentioning gift giving to my father.  The older he got, the ruder he became, and nowhere was this more evident than when he opened his presents.  Because no matter what you gave or how hard you’d tried to choose the perfect gift, he always hated it.

Sometimes we all get something we’re not too wild about, but chances are we try to hide it with a forced smile and a “This is really nice!”  No such affectations for my eighty-something-year-old father who would, after tearing open a gift, announce “Jesus Christ! You know I can’t wear polyester/leather/burlap!  I have to have 100% cotton!” At Christmas we are used to hearing the name of the holy man for whom the holiday was named, but not in such an unholiday-like way.

Surprisingly, there was one year when Jack got something he liked.  It was a sporty grey Members Only jacket which he put on immediately, rarely taking it off until the day he died. As my daughter Tracy recalls, he wore that jacket to watch her model in a fashion show at a local department store.  The problem was he was wearing it over his red sports coat.  “Mom, when Grandpa showed up before the show with Goggie wearing two jackets, I didn’t know what to do.”

“So what did you do?” I asked, silently congratulating myself for not being there.

“I hurried over and told him how nice he looked in his red sports coat and that he shouldn’t cover it up.  And then I just peeled it off him and handed it to Goggie.”

The moral to this tale, if there is one, is that the joy in gift giving must be in the giving.  And that an unappreciative recipient should be ignored.  Actually, I wish that I’d given him a copy of Emily Post’s  Etiquette.   

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