February 27, 2024

Thoughtful Christmas Gifts!

Thoughtful Christmas gifts? Most guys haven’t spent more than two seconds thinking about preparing for Christmas. I know, in the past we talked about festive uses for SPAM, but that’s not preparing for the holidays so much as talking about food that is non-seasonal and always appropriate–especially if SPAM is involved.

Now that Christmas is just a few days away, it’s time to start thinking about gifts for family and friends. Surely we want to make a lasting impression on those we care about. For me, Christmas memories always center on my Daddy who, as we all remember, was a mountain man, through and through.

Daddy always approached Christmas giving with ironclad rules. He insisted that the only proper gift was one which:
(1) Cost him little or nothing
(2) Required minimal outlay of time and energy
(3) Made a lasting impression

Coming up with gifts to satisfy these stringent criteria was perhaps the best illustration of Daddy’s true native wit, charm, intelligence, and craftiness. Most people would take the easy way out and buy something at the store or mail order shirts from L. L. Bean. Not Daddy! He had standards and, by gum, he was gonna stick to ‘em! In so doing, he provided me with many memorable Christmases, which I can now share with you and perhaps provide a gift idea or two.

In keeping with the fireplace theme, one year Daddy presented me with a cord of firewood. For a while, I wondered why the logs were so lumpy and burned with strange-colored flames–until I discovered that Daddy had made the logs himself by gluing together all the credit card offers he had gotten in the mail over the past year. Kinda makes you wonder how many paper mills would shut down if the credit card guys stopped advertising so aggressively. Over the years, Daddy demonstrated an impressive degree of ingenuity in coming up with presents that were unique and memorable.

Imagine waking up on Christmas morning to discover a stocking hung by the chimney with care–stuffed with a generous supply of used chewing tobacco. Or the year he presented me with a new set of grease fittings for my lawn mower. How about a box of hand-whittled toothpicks? Don’t forget the ever-popular yard sale picture frame, adorned with raccoon tails harvested from roadkill. As weird as some of these things were, they all pale by comparison to Daddy’s BIG CHRISTMAS…

Daddy was never too picky about maintenance on his truck. He had a “live and let live” theory of vehicle maintenance. If it started up and ran, it was OK. If not, he’d fix whatever was wrong, then ignore it until it broke again. Knowing this, you can understand my amazement when, one year, he presented me with a Christmas gift certificate for a change of air in the tires of my new truck.

He explained that he had recently learned that air in new tires should be changed after the first 5,000 miles (getting rid of the “break-in air” he called it). What’s more, he volunteered to take my new Dodge Ram Cummins Diesel Dually Club Cab dream machine down to the gas station to personally supervise the process and make sure it was done right. Talk about giving a gift that shows caring and concern! Wow! What a caring guy! Ignoring a small warning voice inside, I handed Daddy the keys to my dream machine and waited for him to return.

Three weeks later, he pulled into my driveway in a rusty old Chevy spewing smoke out the rear and steam from under the hood. Explaining that the process had taken a bit longer than he’d expected and not gone quite the way he’d intended, he nonetheless had made it to Las Vegas, successfully avoided the sheriff, outsmarted Guido and Mario (who had loaned him money on my truck) and had almost made a million bucks at the roulette table when his luck turned sour and he had to make a quick exit out the back door while bullets whined through the air just inches away from his retreating backside.

Furthermore, Daddy assured me that if I could just see my way clear to loan him a little bit of money and stake him to a return trip to Vegas, he was positive that he could make everything right in no time at all. Perhaps you now understand better what I mean when I say that Daddy had a way of making a holiday memorable.

Merry Christmas!

See ya around,


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