Last week, a UPS carrier delivered a package. It was addressed to Christy but she wasn’t there to receive it. So I had to take the package. I knew that it was a present. I knew it was my present. So I did what some of you might think was pretty insane.
I didn’t look at it. At all.
I took the box, walked directly to our bedroom closet, and left it there. Once I walked away, I didn’t think anything else about it. I did make a mental note to let Christy know it arrived. But that was it. No peeking. No shaking of the box. No searching my wife’s web history to figure out what she had bought for me. I just ignored it.
I’m pretty sure Christy thinks I’m crazy. Maybe you think I’m crazy too. I’m OK with that. It’s not the first time I’ve been called crazy. I’m pretty sure it won’t be the last, either. But there’s a reason I refuse to discover my gifts ahead of time.
Let’s turn back the clock to a time that one would think would have been much simpler, a time when the world was my oyster and I was ready to take life by the horns as I surged into adulthood. Yes. This story begins some 18 years ago when I turned 18…
A month or two before my 18th birthday, my then-girlfriend and I were walking through the Mall. As we left some store that sold videos and movie memorabilia, she turned to me and said, “I know what I’m going to do for your birthday. I’m going to get your friends to chip in and we’re going to buy you that Star Wars letterbox collector’s set.”
Okay. Whatever. You’re dreaming.
That’s what I thought. I mean…the whole idea sounded really cool. But I wasn’t holding my breath. Those suckers were pretty expensive. I didn’t really think anything of it.
Until my birthday started getting closer. All of my friends told me they were going together to buy me something. My then-girlfriend also talked about how they were combining their efforts to get me something that I’ll really love. It was so obvious to me what they were doing that I just assumed they knew I knew what they were doing – you know? After all, she’d already told me she was going to do this.
Apparently, I should not assume anything.
On the night of my birthday, my parents took all of us out to eat at Elliot’s Steakhouse. While we were there, my friends presented me with my gift. And while I was deeply appreciative of the gift, I was hardly surprised when I tore open the paper and saw the blue box with the Star Wars hologram. I thanked everyone profusely and probably said something like “This is really cool,” or something similar.
I did not, however, react like Nintendo 64 Boy (see above).
I found out later that the fact that I didn’t run around with my head about to explode really disappointed some of my friends. They expected a more surprised reaction. Mom was even a little frustrated with my stoic reaction. It’s quite clear that they didn’t get the memo that I already knew they were giving me the present. Don’t get me wrong. It was an amazing gift. We watched all three of them after the after-graduation party that year. I threatened my suitemates’ lives over that collection while I was in college. It’s just that I’m not a very good actor. I couldn’t pretend to be surprised, even if I had been smart enough to think that I should have pretended. I guess I could have reacted like Iago.
After that debacle, I resolved that it’s really better not to know what gifts I’m receiving. There’s a whole lot less pressure on everyone. They can keep it a secret. I can be genuinely excited when I receive the gift. Everyone’s happy. I think Christy thinks I’m nuts. But that’s OK. I’m kind of used to her thinking I’m nuts. After all she’s lived with me for 14+ years. So I’ll keep taking packages that are delivered from UPS/FedEx/USPS and putting them away without giving them a second thought. No one has to worry.
Because I’m pretty bad at faking anything. Especially on Christmas.
How about you?