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Christmas is a Guessing Game

Columnist uses his senses to sniff out gifts.

My name is Mike.

I'm a gift guesser.

When I was a wee lad, I would wake up in the middle of the night, go downstairs and start shaking my gifts.

I would sneak out of my bedroom when everyone was asleep and execute my game plan.

I'd wake up in the middle of the night and raid the Christmas tree to see what was under it. I'd try to look under the wrapping to see if anything was sticking out.

Rattling was usually good. That usually meant something to play with.

No rattling usually meant a sweater or a shirt or pants.

No fun there.

My mom would say, "You want to look nice for Christmas Day."

I'd say, "I'd much rather have a toy truck."

The key was not to rip the wrapping paper or damage it in any way. That was a dead giveaway that my midnight mission had occurred.

You also had to make sure everything was put back in the right order. If I didn't, the jig would be up for sure.

I would use all my senses. First, I would smell the presents. I was looking for that plastic smell.

Next, it would be whether it was moving or not. 

I thought about bringing the sniffing dogs or borrowing an X-ray machine.

Too expensive.

Of course, there was still the matter of waiting for what gifts Santa would bring.

I BELIEVE IN SANTA. After all, I just want to make sure I'm not the only guy with a big belly in my house this weekend.

Back to the story:

After years of guessing, but not catching me, my mom went all strategy on me.

She mixed up the presents. Instead of all my gifts being put into one group under the tree, she mixed them up.

One year, my family got back at me big time by putting a Matchbox car into a giant box. I was hoping for a train set or a basketball hoop, but instead I got a mini-Mustang.

Speaking of cars, I'm expecting a new one to be in the parking lot this weekend.

I watch a lot of TV and in every commercial, or so it seems, someone is getting a new "whatever" with a giant red bow on it.

I told my wife the other day that I was hoping for a new Range Rover.

She laughed.

Somehow, I don't think it was a laugh of joy.

I've been thinking about those commercials a lot these days, though. When exactly did husbands and wives start exchanging cars for Christmas?

My parents didn't do that.

My dad didn't even shop for my mother.

First, he told my sister, who was much better at this than I was, to take care of the "buy Mom a present" duties. My sister moved to Chicago when I was a teenager, and then it was my turn.

My dad would give me a few bills, drive me to the store and then listen to the radio in the car while I braved the shopping lines.

"Dad, what do you want me to get?" I asked, being clueless about the whole thing.

"Well, she needs a new housecoat and slippers," he would always answer.

I'd buy the slippers as a gift from me. The housecoat would be from my dad.

Every other year, we'd switch things around.

Eventually, my mom ended up with a closet full of slippers and housecoats.

Unlike me, she never had to guess what she was getting.

She'd open the box, fake surprise, and say this is what she really wanted this year.

Me, I'm still a guesser.

Is that a new car smell I detect under the tree this year?

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