Here we are again at the Christmas gift giving season.
I love the holidays, but am a notoriously poor gifter. To make matters worse my wife Lana's birthday is on Dec. 29. At this time of year that places me squarely in gift-giving purgatory. No matter how I try I am seldom able to come up with a suitable present, but in my own defense Lana has made a few bad choices in the past.
Picture the year 1975 with the two of us caught up in the hippie lifestyle (or at least giving a fair impression of it). The first little house we bought suffered some for that. Before we moved in we took off all of the interior doors and replaced them with beads. Our bedroom boasted a huge waterbed with a flashing strobe light. Back then money was close but we had a thousand buck stereo. We made up for that by choosing as our adult beverage Boone's Farm Wine at 89 cents a bottle. Obviously we had our priorities in place.
As Christmas rolled around my new wife was very excited to give me my gift. When I opened it, I discovered it to be a very unique painting. It was the devil sitting on the toilet reading a newspaper. Old Satan had a pensive look on his face and was holding up his tail with one hand. Of course this was all done on velvet. I didn't know exactly what to say. In Lana's defense, I suppose it did fit quite well in our hippie house. Actually, I wish I still had it.
The very next year Lana gave me a Nehru suit for Christmas. What was worse she expected me to wear it. I couldn't tell her, but I knew that would only happen at gunpoint. How do you tell your new bride that? Clearly you don't. I was in gift hell.
Now, I tell you about those fine Christmas gifts to set you up for a few of my own great choices. Sometime back then I decided in my infinite wisdom that a doorbell would make a great gift for Lana. Now wait -- this was not just any old doorbell. You could program this one to play a long list of songs. I don't remember my exact thought process, but somehow I believed it would be cool for "Proud Mary" to play whenever someone pressed the button. Being a super sensitive fellow I could tell as soon as she opened it that she was a bit baffled. I mumbled something about a bottle of perfume showing no thought, but she wasn't buying it. I don't think she ever saw the beauty of our doorbell that could play "Disco Duck" or "My Way" on demand.
The next year I went the safe route and opted for jewelry. I really wanted to buy her a diamond tennis bracelet, but could only afford one with stones that changed colors with her mood. With my wife being an earth child, I believed that to be the perfect gift. She didn't think so. When she put it on, the stones turned from pale blue to violent red. Looking back I suppose the "diamels" they advertised on TV for $19.95 would have been a better choice, but I was adrift in gift-giving Hades.
These days we have enacted a truce. Whatever cash we intend to spend on each other goes to buy something for the house (this one has doors). That (and the Boone's Farm) makes Christmas much less stressful. For you innocents, just try to grin and bear it when your significant other opens your gift and looks as thought they have just eaten a bad anchovy. 'Tis the season. Merry Christmas to all.
Dan Smith is on the board of directors for the Ormond Beach Historical Society and The Motor Racing Heritage Association and is the author of two books, "The World's Greatest Beach" and "I Swear the Snook Drowned." Email questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or call (386) 441-7793.