I'm turning into a Christmas dad

Whenever someone asks me what I want for Christmas, I look them over and point out something they're wearing. "Your left shoe. Give me your left shoe for Christmas. Now! Take it off and wrap it!" This usually startles them just long enough so I can sneak away in the confusion and not have to talk to them anymore.

I do this because I hate asking for presents. I'm an adult, so when I want something, I just buy it. If a new music album or movie I like comes out, I don't hold off so someone else can buy it for me later. I'm an American, damn it. I want everything now. So when Christmas comes, I find myself with little to ask for other than gift cards and extremely specific sexual favors.

This is a trait I inherited from my dad. Every year my mom asks him for a list of things he wants for Christmas, and every year he writes "socks and underwear and nothing" on a sheet of paper and hands it back to her. It's gotten to the point where we pretty much give him the exact same gifts every year: A golf calendar, golf balls and a flannel shirt that is identical to the other ones he owns. He then complains about the shirt being "a weird color" or "too flashy" and returns it.

This seems to make him tremendously happy. These simple gifts aren't exciting, but as he says, "It's things I'll use." Over the years, I've found myself agreeing with that theory more and more. There's almost nothing worse than receiving a rogue present you don't want or need. I'm sure Tom Brokaw writes great novels about elderly generations, and I'm sure this homemade jar of maple syrup is delicious and in no way has spiders hiding in it like I fear, but these unapproved gifts will only sit on a shelf in my apartment, making me feel guilty for not using them.

Back when I was a cute little kid and my relatives still felt obligated to send me gifts or acknowledge me in some way, their Christmas gifts would mostly be things I'd never use: Weird sweaters, Jesus-themed VHS tapes, Keanu Reeves movies that Target had on sale at the time, gift certificates to obscure movie theater chains that only have locations on the East Coast. These items would sit in my room for months until I finally got the nerve to throw them away.

All of a sudden, my dad's mantra of "don't gift me a bunch of horseshit" makes sense. If my gifts under the tree this year are postage stamps, batteries, discounted laundry detergent and rolls of toilet paper, I'm not sure that I'd be upset. It would be a whole bunch of necessities that I wouldn't have to pay for on my own.

Especially if it's two-ply toilet paper. I can't afford that fancy stuff. A gift like that would be like a hug for my buttocks.

My mom, of course, has a slightly different opinion on all this. When my dad asks for socks and underwear each year, my mom responds with, "Socks and underwear aren't fun! They're not Christmas gifts!" The only sensible gift she approves of are amusing ones, like when I bought my dad a box of Depends adult diapers for Christmas a few years back. 

Ironically, those adult diapers are still sitting in a closet somewhere in my parents' house, because like most other "creative" Christmas gifts, my parents have no use for Depends but believe it would be wasteful to throw them out. There was a period of roughly two years where my father and I would take turns hiding the diapers in odd places throughout the house, such as the bottom of the laundry hamper for my mom to find or in the drawer with loaves of bread. Many nights my father would retire to bed, and a few moments later I'd hear him grumble "Goddamn it" as he found the diapers stuffed into his pillowcase.

I still enjoy some fun gifts like video games, blowjobs and autographed photos of Woodrow Wilson (and in that order, thank you very much), but immense poverty and general dullness that one earns with age have turned me mostly toward sensible, useful gifts. Assuming my financial situation continues to worsen, within a few years I'll likely just ask for loaves of bread, government cheese and packing tape that I can use to reinforce the cardboard box in which I live. Also, heroin.

I'm not quite at that level yet, but I'm on my way. This year I asked for a pair of shoes, bedsheets and a grocery store gift card. Granted, I also asked for "Yakuza 4", a video game where you can earn trophies by picking up a guy and slamming his groin into a railing, but I'm making progress.