Life is Heald: I love the joy of giving, it's the getting the gift to give the joy that bothers me so

Christmas, the most wonderful time of the year. Remind me again what 6-year-old put those words to music? Easy now, I love the roundest resident of the northern north as much as the next guy. (This, in spite of serious misgivings that his chosen names for the reindeer seem born of psychedelic exploration.) It's just that once you get older, to the point where you understand the joy of giving, you still have to go get it, before you can give it. Get it?

Shopping is hard. It takes work to find that perfect little something that will both surprise and excite when revealed to the ripper of the wrapping. This year, the wife and I even dipped our virgin toes in the pond scum that is Black Friday. As we stood in line with 300 of our closest friends, we had to check more than once to make sure we weren't in line for the free seminar on turning your trailer into a home meth lab.

Teenagers are tough. They have all sorts of things they didn't have before, like opinions and attitudes and other such cutlery with which to pop the bubble of parenthood, and we have three of them.

Suggestions, anyone? Maid service seemed like a practical gift to me. Their idea of a clean bedroom is a car bombing to anyone else. The wife said there wasn't enough love in this gift. I told her I'd love to see their rooms clean. Nowhere.

Maybe music, something is always being piped into their ears, so much so that Q-tip sales are off 50 percent. Where would I begin? Remember when your parents told you Elvis was Satan's spawn and they called the bug man when you talked about the Beatles invasion? Guess who you are now.

My kids like a band called "Mumford and Sons." I like Mumford. Lloyd Mumford. He played cornerback for the Miami Dolphins back in the '70s. I do not know this other Mumford. Didn't know he got married, don't know his boys. And then, there I am, watching "Saturday Night Live" and who comes on but "Mumford and Sons." I thought it was the Country Bear Jamboree in human form. If Ms. Buella-Mae Buttercup or whatever her name is had dropped down out of the ceiling on a swing, I would not have batted an eye.

Any other ideas? Life is kind of simple around here, like "Little House on the Prairie" with iTunes. Maybe we'll get them a new hog, but come winter, that could get awkward. We do love our bacon.

And then there's the wife. We've been together since we were 16. Tell you what, YOU surprise her and I'll get you something. I thought of clothes, my fashion sense is highly thought of in robe and cereal circles, but that's just a grenade with a loose pin. I buy too big of a size and Christmas comes with a chill that would have an Eskimo making love to a space heater. Too small and she thinks you're sending her a message, then we get soy milk, wheat biscuits and broccoli for Christmas dinner. No bacon.

Forget jewelry. She's got 10 fingers, two ears, one neck, two wrists. They're all covered. When she grows something, I'll call the jeweler. Until then, shut it. Unless she leaves me for Mr. T or goes gangsta, I'm good, but just in case, I have one of those huge, gold dollar sign necklaces on layaway and a free consult with a tattoo shop of some renown.

And then there's me. The human male, known as "impossibus giftius" to those who buy and wrap. What do you want me to say, it must be a chromosome thing? I just can't fake it, I even practiced in the mirror last year. I don't need a tie, the one I wore in 1988 is still clean. Underwear? I have three drawers for drawers right now. One more pair of boxers shows up, I add on to the house. Golf balls? I could open a driving range tomorrow and not pick up the balls for a month. Clothes? Really? The leisure suit still has the tags on it. Yes, honey, I know they'll come back in style, but I only have so many years left.

Besides, it's not you, it's me. No, we're not breaking up. That one year just did too much damage. You remember, when you got me the portrait of you and your sisters? Still love it, by the way. It wasn't your fault it was 55 inches and flat and I danced the Funky Chicken for five minutes before I opened it. Yes, I know me dropping to my knees and yelling "Damn you! Damn you all to hell!" looked bad, but that was just my Charlton Heston impersonation from "Planet of the Apes," you know I love that movie.

Don't worry, it will all come to pass as it always does, the jagged edge of getting, preceding the joy of giving. The presents will be opened, some hits, some misses. Then I will rise, go put on my new tie and boxers and hit golf balls in the back yard until I'm called into dinner, at which point, I will shower and put on my leisure suit. If I start now, and I play my cards right, this year, the wheat thins stay in the box.

Kevin says he really does like Christmas, so whoever popped his blowup Santa and spray painted "Scrooge" on his garage can skip his house next year. He can be reached at LIFEisHEALD@yahoo.com.

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