Usually my parents gave me clothes for Christmas presents during my years at the University of Illinois, but my mom surprised me in my senior year.
“Son, what do you want for Christmas?” she asked.
Her question caught me off guard so I thought a bit. “Well, I’d like a stereo,” I finally said.
“Okay, we’ll think about it,” she said, dropping the conversation.
I didn’t think any more about what my parents might buy me for Christmas because they were farmers. Their incomes depended on corn and soy bean prices and sadly both grains were down in price that year. So, I had no idea what they had in mind.
A few days before Christmas, I arrived home. In the living room, the tree looked great as usual with numerous presents under it. As I sat on the sofa watching TV, mom walked into the room and stood next to me.
“Well, son,” she said, “what do you think you’re getting for Christmas?”
I rotated my forefinger above my other hand, indicating my gift would spin around in circles.
She smiled. “You always amaze me by being able to guess your present ahead of time from us,” she said, heading back into the kitchen.
My enthusiasm for Christmas soared at that moment. I’m actually going to get a stereo, I thought.
We opened presents two days later. As usual, Dad handed gifts to me in the order he wanted me to open them. Socks. Underwear. Ho hum! Striped shirt. Sweater. Double ho hum!
Then, he handed me a small package, maybe two inches by three inches.
The size shocked me, but I’m a lot like that little boy whose father believed he was the most optimistic child in the world. To prove his theory, the father covered the son’s bedroom with horse manure for his birthday and put a red ribbon on the door.
The boy came home from school, tore the ribbon off, opened the door, and screamed with joy. He ran around the room, jumping up and down in the manure.
“Why are you so happy?” asked the father.
“Because I know there’s a pony in here somewhere. I just have to find it,” said the boy.
So, I slowly removed the gift wrap, looking for my stereo and wondering where I would find it. But there in the box was a wristwatch. Although I was disappointed, I put it on.
“You figured out our surprise gift ahead of time, son,” dad said, shaking his head.
Praise God! My parents could not read my mind at that moment.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all. See you after January 1st.