Monday, December 24, 2012

Confessions of a Gift Guesser

My name is Jonathan Krause, and I am a Gift Guesser.  A Gift Guesser is the annoying person who has the ability to guess correctly the contents of any and all wrapped gifts before opening them at the holidays--thus ruining any surprise the gift-giver hoped to achieve.

Having been opening gifts for almost 40-years now, most of the gift-guessing is relatively simple.  I know the weight of socks, golf shirts, dress pants, Rose Bowl t-shirts, golf balls, cd's, blu-rays, wallets, belts, power tools, cookware and underwear.  Add to that, the limited number of gift ideas that exist for middle-aged men--and the game really isn't that hard.  But nonetheless, it seems a lot of people don't really enjoy it when I do it.

One of those was my late mother-in-law--for whom Christmas was a gift giving extravaganza that was the highlight of the entire year.  She believed that my guessing all the gifts before opening them took away all of the fun--so one year she thought she would try and cross me up.

Many of you know that I collect Leinenkugel's barware and accessories.  Pint glasses, signs, liquor store display cases, coasters autographed canoe paddles, glasses and t-shirts from the Leinenkugel brothers themselves and more golf shirts, sweatshirts and bowling shirts than you can believes.  Well one year, my mother-in-law got me a set of display canoes featuring the Leinies brands to hang from one of my paddles.  It was one of the few pieces I did not have in the collection.

To make sure that I didn't guess what they were before unwrapping, she put the box in which the canoes came into another bigger box and then into a still bigger box--a common trick to try and throw off a good gift guesser.  So Christmas Eve came and we were at her apartment and I was told to open the "canoe box" last--as tradition held that the "most special" gift for each person was to wait until the very end.  As I lifted the box to my lap, my mother-in-law made the fatal mistake of saying "you're never going to guess what that one is"--a challenge that any good Gift Guesser is going to accept.

I've never claimed to have premonitions or ESP, but at that moment the only idea that came to my mind was "Leinenkugel display canoes".  As soon as the words left my mouth, the look on my mother-in-law's face would have led you to believe that I had just told her that I had lost all of her retirement savings by betting on a three legged horse at the Kentucky Derby.  The shock and downright anger that I had--yet again--foiled her best efforts to surprise me with a gift was classic.  "HOW DID YOU GUESS THAT?!?!?  HOW COULD YOU HAVE GUESSED THAT?!?!"  She kept asking over and over again--as I just laughed the laugh of the victor.  "Did you tell him?" she asked my wife--and she honestly denied it.  It was a Christmas moment that lived on for years (sort of like the Leg Lamp in "A Christmas Story")

It's also a moment I will cherish even more--now that my mother-in-law is no longer with us to enjoy retelling the tale.

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