Whataya know? It is better to give…

In November, my stepdaughter Christy came up with a new plan for Christmas.

“This year, we all put our names in a hat and everyone picks just one person to buy for,” she announced excitedly.

“But what if someone gets me who doesn’t know what I like?” I asked.

“Dude, all you ever want is golf stuff. How hard is that?”

“What about Leila and Charlie?”

“Everyone gets them gifts.”

“What? No fair!”

“They’re kids…”

I stomped my foot and stuck out my lower lip.

“…Little kids.”

So even though I was still worried about not getting all the stuff I so richly deserved, I warmed to the plan. For one thing I hate to shop and for another my gifts aren’t always appreciated.

“What is this?” my wife asked last year.

“It’s a cap cleaner. You put it on your baseball caps and they keep their shape when you wash them.”

That’s when she reminded me she didn’t wear caps and I realized I’d totally wasted three bucks.

“OK, I’m in,” I said.

So, Carl, Christy, Jon, Stacey, Patrick, my wife and I all put our names in a hat and we drew.

Five minutes after we drew Christy asked: “So, who’d you get?”

“I thought we were supposed to be secret Santas.”

“Well, yeah, just tell me not everyone.”

“You know,” I said. “Years ago I worked at this company in New Hampshire. Every day it seemed like someone would come up to me and say: ‘don’t tell anyone, but…’ The thing was I never told anyone, so I became known as a dead link and pretty soon people stopped telling me secrets because I kept them to myself.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Christy said. “That’s a great story, now who do you have?”

I smiled and did the old zipper lip thing.

“I’ll figure it out you know.” She tried to pry the paper from my hand but I crumpled it up and shoved it deep into my pocket.

“Freak,” Christy said then stomped away.

And that was that – until I suddenly realized it was December and remembered that I had to actually buy a gift, so I raced off to the mall. That’s when I called Christy.

“What’s the spending limit?” I asked.

“No real limit, why?”

“Well, I was looking at games that come in a frame. You hang them up like art when you’re not playing.

“Ah ha! Games. You must have Stacey. She loves games.”

“Nope. Not Stacey,” I said and hung up.

Ten minutes later I called again. “They’ve got these incredible photo tiles in a frame – scenes of Santa Barbara and Catalina Island. Way cool.”

“Tiles! Mom loves tiles. Ha-ha, youuu’vvvve got Mmmommmm.”

“No, it’s not your mother,” I said, then hung up. I now realized this was the most fun I’d ever had shopping.

The next call I placed to my wife, perhaps the second worst secret keeper in the family. “They’ve got this engraving cart set up down here at the mall. Do you think a silver flask is a good gift?”

“No,” she said.

Two minutes later, Christy called. “Ha. Mom called. Only Jon would ever want an engraved silver flask. Gotcha.”

“I think you’re right,” I said. “So now I’m in the calendar store. Wow there’s a great surf calendar.”

“You’ve got Carl!” She yelled in triumph.

“Oh wait, the great chefs of the world calendar complete with recipes,” I said.

“Patrick,” she yelled so loud I had to hold the phone away from my ear.

“Nope,” I said.

“Well that only leaves… Me!”

“Gotta go,” I said.

“Clothes!” she yelled, “Jewelry! No spending limit…”

I hung up. Then I left the mall and went to another shop.

“Don’t suppose you gift wrap?” I asked as I laid my purchase on the counter.

“Sorry, we don’t wrap” he said. “But if this is a gift, then someone sure got lucky this year. This is a real beauty.”

I beamed with pride, grabbed my purchase and headed for the door.

“Ernie?” the guy said, just as I got to the door.

“Yes?”

You dropped this. He held out a crumpled piece of paper.

“Oh. Just throw that away willya? It’s supposed to be a surprise.”

Then I went home to wrap up my brand new three-wood.