Just Like Carnak
My dad always seemed to know what he was getting for Christmas. Later he confessed he would find receipts in the garbage when he took it out or guess the amount listed coupled with the store’s name in the checkbook registry. Every Christmas it was the same thing. He would shake the box somewhat like Johnny Carson would do with the envelope when he played the Carnak character. This was where Johnny would put said envelope (that had an answer to his question made up question inside) to his forehead, say what he thought was the question to the answer written inside. Then he would rip it open, then read the answer to uproarious laughter(see below). In the same way, Dad would play it up as he shook the box telling us where it was bought and about how much it might have cost followed by his opening the box announcing at the same time what was inside. Much to every ones disappointment he was always right.
My mom didn’t drive so every trip Dad would sit in the car waiting for her to come out or come back later to pick her up. This time if my memory serves me right Mom got together with her neighbor friend to surprise him that year. I can almost see them put their heads together as they figured out the plan of action. This was the year my mom got either a nice raise or a bonus from the hospital where she worked as a nurse. So she had enough money to buy Dad something extra nice. This was the late sixties when this shiny greenish suit coat was all the rage. She probably used the measurements from his Sunday go to church suit coat to get the size right along with sleeve length. My guess is she left the suit coat at the neighbor’s house until the last minute so she could sneak it inside without him seeing it.
My mom had a planted box wrapped under the tree so he could do his usual shaking. He continued with his now familiar routine of saying where he thought she bought it and how much finishing it up with his surefire guess. It was a pair of shoes like he had wanted. “Shoes,” he said with glee as mom slipped down the hall to get out the real true gift from its hiding place.
So now that all the presents were unwrapped and Dad was wondering what was up because everyone was sitting there with Cheshire cat smiles waiting for mom to trick the trickster. Mom winked and went on about how each year he always figured it out but this year she was sure he wouldn’t because there was something else. She asked him to guess what else she might have gotten him. Dad guessed a few things and had us all laughing because he did have some good hunches. Mom went down the hall to where she had hung the gift out of sight and brought out the very modern colored off green suit coat for Dad. His eyes lit up with joy at the pleasure of it. Mom’s eyes teared up as she enjoyed the joy of being able to buy it for him. “Honey,” he said. “You got me this year. I was sure that amount in the checkbook was for that dress you were getting for my sister.”
Well that was the best year ever. The year of the green very in style suit coat surprise for Dad. The joy it brought. The pleasure it gave our family to see his glow at Christmas services wearing proudly his coat of many guesses.
Redone Christmas 2014
The Carnak jokes often involved puns or wordplay; the answer “The La Brea Tar Pits” was the answer to the question “What do you have left after eating the La Brea Tar Peaches?
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