On my desk, there’s an envelope addressed to Santa Claus, on its way to Korvatunturi, Finland. Inside, there’s a handwritten letter.
I would be really happy if I got the following things. (NB: All items are Lego). “
The items are listed by category – Harry Potter, Prince of Persia, Toy Story, Power miners, Atlantis, Racers, Space Police, Star Wars, and “Other stuff” – with a product number next to them, neatly copied from a Lego catalogue.
On the bottom of the page, it says “turn”, on both sides of the letter, then signed by Son.
He’s not happy about the letter still being on my desk, though. After all, he wrote to Santa on Monday so it is reasonable to expect that it has already been delivered to Santa, filed by the elves, and added to the production pipeline.
I’m not much of a list guy. I don’t even write a grocery list, I just go in, buy stuff, and get out. Wife, on the other hand, is famous for her lists. She’s got a list for everything, and nine times out of ten, I love her for it, and I love her lists.
But then there are the wish lists. And while I understand their purpose, and I know that it’s nice to give a present that will be appreciated, my heart wants to boldly go outside a list, and find something that’s surprising and still simply perfect.
Or, maybe it’s just that checking something off a list feels too much like delivering an order and, well, maybe I have problems with taking orders? Or maybe we didn’t have a lot of money when I was a kid so writing a long list seems a little obnoxious? Maybe I don’t want to be disappointed? Or maybe this behavior is just something I picked up from Dad, the ultimate non-list present giver.
In our family, Dad always gave the best presents. The skates I didn’t even know I wanted, the briefcase Mom didn’t know she had wanted, and then, of course, the computer, the games, the CD players that he had in his store. (He didn’t always get a bullseye. The year he gave me my first CD player, a portable one, he had also bought three CDs: Eurythmics, Paul McCartney – and Sabrina).
And I would return the favor by getting him a book of political cartoons every year.
Then one year, suddenly, I had enough common sense, and money, to get Dad a Christmas present he deserved. Now, obviously, there was no need for me to ignore any lists, because there weren’t any. Dad didn’t believe in lists.
I decided that since he always bought fine shoes to me and Mom, shoes would be a good bet to get for him, too.
In a way, it was easy to figure out what to get Dad. All I had to do was think what he would buy for me. If he’d get me shoes, he would definitely go for some brand name shoes, because he believes that it’s worth the premium price to buy shoes that last for a long time. I told Mom about my plan to get her input, help, and support. She came to the store to help me choose a pair she thought Dad would like, and the size. Then I swore her to secrecy until Christmas Eve.
On Christmas Eve, after we had made our drive to my paternal grandparents’ grave, had had our dinner, and sauna, Santa Claus came knocking. Ironically, Santa always came knocking when I was in my late teens, but when I was six or seven, we always had to go for a drive to look for him, and, naturally, he had been at our apartment just then.
Anyway, Santa – who looked and sounded a lot like the driver at Dad’s store, especially when he took his beard off – came in, handed out the presents, and took off. I wasn’t in a rush opening my presents because I wanted to keep an eye on Dad, to see the look on his face when he opened my present.
Dad, on the other hand, always opened his presents last, because he wanted to see the look on my face so we played a weird game of reverse chicken, taking our time, making excuses for being slow. Finally, he picked up my present, and opened it to see a pair of brand new Camel boots in the box. He looked at them in disbelief.
“Merry Christmas!” I shouted, while opening my next present. Inside, there was a pair of Camel boots which I looked at In disbelief.
Dad and I had bought each other the same present.
“Merry Christmas!” shouted Mom. “You don’t know how hard it’s been for me to keep the secret for weeks!”
Then Dad and I went for a test walk.
Wife doesn’t give me lists anymore.
Even if I already know what to get her – it’s such a perfect present that I’m sure getting it hasn’t even crossed her mind – I’m also thinking of giving her a pre-Christmas present. I think I’ll ask her to give me a wish list because I can see how crafting the list is just as important and exciting as getting something on it.
And tomorrow morning I’ll tell Son that the elves have picked up the letter. That’s what happened to the list I left on the kitchen counter when I was five.