Take a look at this letter. So what happens when one of the parents is expected to pick out a gift for the other parent? Oofta. Perhaps they go together and one points and says "buy it" and then it's over. I know of a few women who go and pick out what they want then send their husbands to that store with their checkbooks and the clerk has it all wrapped and ready. I suppose it's easier that way. I'm terrible at gifts. When buying my wife a present I've found two rules that help:

Buy something stupid and not practical and spend more than you can afford. However, this can't apply every year.

What about some of the more memorable presents you've received? I suppose I was 4 or 5 and I'd often run down to get the mail. One day the mailman handed me this long box and said it contained a truck. I lugged it up to the house and told my mother. She got a disturbed look on her face and said the mailman was wrong. It was shirts she had ordered for grandpa. That sure was a funny box to ships shirts in. Later in the year I opened up my brand new Texaco gas truck for my birthday. I remember the part where my mom was upset that the mailman blabbed, but I don't remember the actual opening of the truck.

Another gift I remember was when I was in junior high and we always spent Christmas Eve with my uncle and aunt. My cousins opened their presents that night and I opened mine on Christmas morning. Wow, my cousin Keith got one of those hockey sets. I was as excited as he was and I couldn't stop playing with it. I can look back now and imagine how pleased my parents must have been, for I received the exact same gift the following morning.

Sometimes a gift can surprise you. After the church Sunday school program we would exchange gifts with another attendee. My friend Randy had my name and I was so disappointed when I saw that I had received three of those cheap little pinball games. I kept thinking, doesn't his mother know I'm not a kid anymore, I'm 11 or 12 or whatever. Randy must have had a wise mother for I found myself playing with those silly pinball things more than most gifts I ever received.

My worst gift? Hands down it was a woodburning set from my uncle, who didn't have children at the time. It was a good gift, but I was too young. I took that thing to all of my sister's dolls and burned scars and tattoos on all of them. I apparently had a grasp of anatomy as well, but I won't go there.

Sometimes we can't always get what we want. I so dearly wanted a minibike but I knew that would never happen. I recall the cheapest one in the catalog was $99, and I'd sit and stare at it. I hit rock bottom in sixth grade when my neighbor, Ricky, went down the road on his new minibike. He was only a third-grader! I guess not getting one didn't warp me (I suspect it was something else) and I made it through life without one. My parents later surprised me with a black and white TV. That just floored me, though I can look back now and suspect guilt may have played a role. I was a high school senior pulling down $5 a week allowance, which also included loading all the hay bales and mowing out the barn and cleaning the barn.

I still wonder what type of characters the parents of this kid are though. I wonder what their parents were like.