My dad had a talent for figuring out exactly what I wanted, even if I myself never knew. I remember with great fondness my 12th Christmas. My dad gave me a ream of plain white paper, a dozen pencils and a pencil sharpener, and best of all, an old used Royal typewriter. I was beside myself with joy and filled with the warm, full feeling of delight that came with the knowledge that someone knew even more than I just how much I wanted to be a writer.
Four years later and far more sophisticated (after all, I read "Seventeen" magazine faithfully), it must have been a challenge to give me something original. I made it known that what I wanted was cash. I could get much more for less at Dayton's when their clothes went on sale immediately after Christmas. Armed with Christmas gift money and my 10% student employee's discount, I had dreams of a closet full of new clothes.
But while cash was what I wanted, and while cash was what I predicted I'd get, the romance of being surprised was what I knew I'd miss. My dad must have known it, too. Each day of the week before Christmas morning I poked, lifted, and shook an oddly wrapped box with my name on it. Heavy. Something blocky inside that kind of shifted against what sounded like loose wads of tissue paper. "Be careful with that!" Dad would warn me.
But the sneaky look of glee in my dad's eyes told me he was up to something. Darned if I could figure it out.
Finally, Christmas morning! Before breakfast? Late? I don't remember any of the details, only my belly laugh as I opened the box, tossed out the wads of newspaper (!), and found two heavy blocks of well sanded maple duct taped together. I borrowed Dad's pocket knife and sliced the tape. Inside was a crisp, new $100 bill.
Once again, Dad let me know without telling me that he knew me really well. And isn't that the best gift anyone could get?