Over the past 20 years, I have written more than a few humor columns about the holiday season. Below is my favorite one and is pretty much exactly what happened. In December of 2016, a UPS truck pulled up to our curb and we were eager to see what was in store for us. Actually, nothing was in a store. We bought everything online that year.
The driver struggled with a carton the size of a big-screen TV. He maneuvered it to the front porch, and I went outside to look at it.
“Who’s it for?” my wife, Mary Ellen, asked.
It was addressed to me, but that could have been misleading. When a delivery is made, we are not sure who ordered it and who the gift is for. If the wrong person opens it, well, there goes the surprise on Christmas morning.
“It’s addressed to me,” I told her. “But I have no recollection of ordering anything so big. Maybe you ordered it?”
My wife thought for a moment, and so began the weirdest conversation in our 34-year marriage.
“Dick, I know what it is. It’s that special item I mentioned months ago that I wanted for Christmas. You said you found it in a catalog. Don’t you remember? I’m so excited! Thank you.”
“I have absolutely no idea what it is. Can you give me a hint?”
“No, I can’t. That would ruin the surprise.”
“Ruin my surprise? It’s supposed to be your surprise. But you already know what it is. I’m the one who doesn’t have a clue.”
“It doesn’t seem right to tell you. That’s not in keeping with the spirit of giving, Dick.”
“OK, how about you whisper softly in my ear, and I promise I won’t tell you what you said.”
It scared me a little that for a brief moment this actually made sense to me. It was driving me crazy that I had no memory of what I bought her.
“Is it a high-tech item?” I asked.
“Not really,” Mary Ellen said.
“Do you plug it in?”
“Is it artwork?”
“No, and I don’t want to play anymore. If you guess it, I’ll have nothing to look forward to on Christmas morning. I want to see the expression on your face when I open it.”
When Mary Ellen went out grocery shopping, I opened the box. It was a really neat present. I don’t think I have ever been happier with something I bought my wife. Before Mary Ellen got home, I resealed it, gift-wrapped it and placed it under the tree. Of course, now we both knew what was in the package. It will still be a surprise on Christmas morning, so long as we can both keep a secret.