Merry Christ-mess! I hope you got what you wanted this morning — or at least what you deserved. I know my grandkids will. My wife and I have been taking careful notes since October.
It’s been tough. Most of our grandchildren are girls, and their Christmas expectations change hourly.
Girls • “There’s this gorgeous blue top at Macy’s I can wear with … wait, no, I want a gift card for Amaz … well, if you really love me, maybe a new phone, but if I can’t have that, then some jewelry … or ”
Boys • “Video games that kill stuff.”
I almost always got what I wanted for Christmas. It might not be what I asked for — like the time I wanted a real F-104 Starfighter armed with napalm so I wouldn’t have to go back to a school that wasn’t there anymore — but I ended up liking what I got instead.
At first I thought it was because Santa was simple-minded, but then, as I got older, I realized the Old Man overrode Mom’s concerns and mollified me with something slightly less destructive.
Like the time I pleaded with Santa in an endless number of overwrought letters for a “real flamethrower like the Army has, and not a fake one this time.” Christmas morning I got my first of many BB guns.
The following spring, after a series of “I wasn’t aiming for that” incidents, the gun got wrapped around a tree in the backyard. It was still there when we moved.
Here’s a five-year list of what I wanted vs. what I actually woke up to Christmas morning:
1965 • Timber wolf — dog.
1966 • Real guillotine — decorative Persian sword dull enough to be a hammer.
1967 • Harley-Davidson motorcycle — Yamaha 80cc scooter.
1968 • Actual German Luger — BB pistol.
1969 • 3.5-inch rocket launcher — J.C. Penney 12-gauge shotgun.
Except for the dog — which I came to love even though it never killed anyone — all of these Christmas presents resulted in some minor disaster. Just because the gifts were toned down considerably, didn’t mean my imagination was dialed back accordingly.
For example, when I was 7, I wanted a large-bore buffalo gun. Instead, I got a rifle that shot genuine (but boring to the point of a coma) corks.
I upped the entertainment by talking my younger siblings into riding our new rocking horse while I shot them off of it, usually in the face. My younger brother still has a scar over an eye where he hit something during a backflip off the horse’s butt.
Obviously, I grew out of that nonsense. For that, I (we) owe thanks to Christmas 1975, when I got a wife (three months early) for Christmas.
Later, with similar layaway options, I got a daughter for each Christmas of 1976, 1980 and 1982.
I didn’t know then that after those Christmases, I would always get exactly what I wanted for Christmas: all of us together.
Sometimes what you really want for Christmas turns out to be something you honestly needed and didn’t know it.
This morning, I got exactly what I wanted for Christmas — a seat on the couch, holding my wife’s hand, while the grandkids screamed with delight.
Robert Kirby is The Tribune’s humor columnist. Follow Kirby on Facebook.