Dad: "What do you want for Christmas?"
Me: "Uhhhhh...(not wanting to sound greedy and/or ungrateful) nothing I guess. Maybe a new computer? Or you could pay for my classes? What do you want?"
Dad: "Gold-toe socks. And world peace." At this point we both laugh dryly, not because it's funny, but because we each have a job: my dad has to resurrect the 'world peace' joke, and I have to laugh at it so as not to make him feel lame for resurrecting said joke.
Me: "What does Donna (stepmom) want?"
Dad: "A hug and a kiss."
Me: Slightly annoyed. "No, really."
Dad: "I'm having trouble thinking of what to get you kids this year. Any idea what to get your brother and sister?"
Me: "Adrienne needs a new bed for the baby, and David probably just needs money."
Dad: "I've gotta go."
Two days later...
Dad: "So, what do you need for Christmas this year?"
Me: Confused, since we've already had this conversation, but somewhat mollified, as he's changed the 'want' to 'need'. "A computer? Classes? What about you?"
Dad: "Gold-toe socks. Nice white undershirts. And world peace. Any idea what to get your brother and sister?"
Me: "The new baby needs a bed. David needs cash. What about Donna?"
Dad: "Let me call you back, I'm just driving into the garage."
On the weekend...
Dad: "Have you given any thought to what you want for Christmas this year?"
Me: Enraged, since I don't want to ask again for the expensive computer/classes, but also worried at this apparent onset of Alzheimer's. "Eh."
Dad: "I'm having a tough time thinking of things to get you kids this year. I really am. What do your brother and sister want?"
Me: Suddenly existential. "Oops, that's my other line beeping in."
It's a crapshoot. Last year we talked extensively about the new laptop he was going to get me, then, on a whim, I asked for a banjo. I received the banjo.
This musing on my father has brought back memories of the Christmasses of yore, way back when my parents were still married, before they realized the burning passion they were feeling was actually hate, not love.
- When my dad reads (present tense, yes. I still force him to read it) "'Twas the Night Before Christmas," my sister makes wretching noises at the part when the guy "threw up the sash." It's her job.
- My dad does an amazing faux-drunken (sometimes not so faux) impression of Andy Williams singing "It's the Holiday Season." (or is it Perry Como?)
- My dad also, at all family gatherings, scurries around the floor in his socks imitating James Brown dancing. Once, he cut his tootsie on a stray piece of glass in his mother's kitchen. He was wearing his orange vest from LL Bean which he swore made it completely unnecessary to ever wear a jacket again.
- My dad makes his 'world-famous' spaghetti on Christmas Eve, which is chock full of sausage. He then proudly tells me, "You can just pick the sausage out." This, of course, comes directly before he asks, "You still a vegetarian?" whilst maniacally ruffling my hair.
- You could always tell when someone was opening The Big One, because my dad would tell the rest of us to be quiet by signaling frantically with his left hand, the right hand being occupied by the 'zoom' button on his camcorder.
It's fun to remember things like this. It reminds me how utterly dad-like he is. He has that ability to remain maddeningly distant while at the same time leaving us begging for more. It's like that episode of Seinfeld, when George acts really annoyed every time one of his coworkers is around, so that it looks like he's really busy. Good ol' Dad.