Things I Know

At Christmas time, remember, it’s not the gift, it’s the thought that counts.  We’re getting a new water heater for Christmas.  I didn’t think about that.

BTW, the phrase “Hot-water heater” is redundant.  If the water was already hot, why would you need to heat it?

Last night, a couple of hours after I ate, I went into the kitchen to clean up.  My wife had already put away the half a tomato I didn’t use when I made my sandwich.  I told her that’s one reason I love her, and one reason she wants to murder me in my sleep.  She laughed.  As long as she laughs when I say something like that, I figure I’m still safe.

Also, last night, I ordered something for her from LL Bean.  Their website told me it would arrive on January 2.  No problem.  I didn’t order it until Christmas Eve eve.  Retail workers and package delivery workers deserve holiday time too.  But, the same website told me that if I paid an additional $15 for express delivery, the package would come on January 2 instead.  Hmmmmm.  What would you do?

There’s a tv commercial for Optimum Cable showing soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo, accidentally locking himself out of a hotel room.  Then a female housekeeper shows up to let him back in, takes a picture of him in his underwear, posts it on social media, and the pic goes viral.  Funny, I suppose, but in real life a hotel housekeeper who posted a photo of a famous guest in his or her underwear would be fired.

It was funny to hear Democratic Senators complain about not having time to read the Republican tax reform plan.  Funny because the Republicans made the same complaint about the Affordable Care Act years ago when the Democrats rammed that through Congress without giving anyone time to read the bill.  What’s sad is both complaints were accurate.

It looks like I shouldn’t vote for a Republican or a Democrat.  My income taxes went up substantially to pay for Obamacare.  I live in a high-tax state, so my federal income taxes will also go up because of the limit on state and local tax deductions contained in the new tax reform bill.

My wife told my daughter the other day that my mother called her when I was first in the Army to tell her (my girlfriend at the time) my address.  Saint Karen (who must be a saint to put up with me), told my mom that she would number the letters she had already written each day since I went in (this was pre-email in case you’re wondering).  I asked Saint Karen how it was that I told my mother my address before I told her.  She said I did tell her first. 

That’s just one reason why Saint Karen should have been the public relations person in our family.  Instead, I did PR for 20 years or so.  Another reason she should have done it is because she’s a genius at not answering the question you ask her.  I, on the other hand, will answer you directly if you ask the right question. 

What do I mean by not answering the question?  Q:  Do you want to go out to dinner?  A:  I’m tired.  Okay, but that doesn’t tell me whether you’re willing to go out to eat, does it?   

Examining That Horse’s Mouth

You’ve heard the expression, “Never look a gift horse in the mouth,” haven’t you?  A horse’s teeth wear down over its lifetime, so examining a horse’s teeth is one way to evaluate whether the horse is young or old.  In other words, the expression arose to admonish people not to evaluate gifts based on how much they cost. 

On the Today Show this morning, the cast was asking what the worst gift you received is.  

I’ve mentioned here before that one of the earliest memories I have of my grandmother is her telling me in her kitchen that it’s not the gift, it’s the thought that counts.  Since I was 4 or 5 years old at the time, I thought my grandmother was nuts.  At that age, my parents, my grandparents, and any of my numerous aunts and uncles could easily afford to get me lots of things I wanted but couldn’t get for myself on my allowance which I believe was a quarter a week.

As an adult, of course I realize my grandmother was right, just not for a kid of kindergarten, or pre-k age.  Maybe I value the thought so much because there are still people who could buy me something I can’t afford for myself, but I don’t know anyone with that much money, so it isn’t going to happen.

The Today Show question caused me to recall two gifts I thought at the time were terrible.  Each actually turned out to be among the most useful things I’ve ever received.  My father’s older sister and her husband, my Aunt Catherine and Uncle Charlie were childless, and they were very generous at Christmas to me and my sister.  They were, for example, responsible for most of the electric trains I had when I was a kid.  One year, and one gift, stands out in my mind.  I think they gave me something else too, but they once gave me three or four wooden clothes hangers.  They were good hangers, the curved kind where the pants hangers unhook at one end, so you put your pants on them, closed the hanger and the pants wouldn’t slip off.

I have to think they got me something else too, but I don’t remember.  I do remember how disappointed I was and at my advanced age, I hope I didn’t show it, but I’d bet I did.  Obviously, as a kid, I wanted toys or money.  The thing is, my aunt and uncle passed away many years ago, but I still have those hangers.  I’ve bought and paid for more of them too, and they still hold clothes in my closet every day.

Second disappointing present came from the other side of the family.  I was 17 at the time, so I hope I was better able to conceal my disappointment.  My mother’s sister, my Aunt Mary, came to the party my parents held to celebrate my graduation from high school.  She gave me a leather Dopp shaving kit.  It could hold all my toiletries for when I traveled.  At 17, I was more sophisticated than when I was 12.  I didn’t want toys or money.  I just wanted money.  I’m not going to tell you that I still have it, but in college, in the Army and in my travels through adulthood, I used it a lot more than any other gift I ever received, except those hangers.  I wore it out after constant use over 20 years or more.