by Mr B
If there's one thing that's hard to do, it's buying a Christmas present for the man who has everything. Every year you ask that pointless question, already knowing the answer.
"Hi it's me. Is there anything you want for Christmas this year?"
"Err, not really, I have everything I need."
This enthralling conversation might be with your husband, your boyfriend, or even your son. But for me, it's my with my Dad.
Let me tell you why. My Dad is retired, and unlike many retired people in the UK he was able to sell his business and have enough money to live the same comfortable life he had when he was working, but with a lot more free time. So in many ways life has never been so good. He has both time and money, a rare combination. He fills his days time looking after a few properties he still rents out, playing golf, eating in good restaurants and spending as much time as he can with my teenage sister before she grows up and disowns him. Those of you paying attention will have noted that he has a hobby in the middle of that list. He plays golf. An instant theme for christmas gifts!
And for several years my sister and I bought him many golf-related gifts. Monogrammed golf balls. A golf umbrella. A set of golf tees that were (in some way that I can no longer recall) different or more powerful or taller or shorter. We bought him many golf shirts. We gave him golf-inspired xmas cards, calendars, mouse mats and pens. And we wrapped all these gifts in golf-themed wrapping paper. We even thought about sending him on a golfing holiday til we found out how much it would cost.
However, about five years ago, my Dad finally confessed that many of these gifts were still sitting in a cupboard at his house. Well, when I say he confessed, what I really mean is that I found them in the cupboard.
"The thing is," he said, "I really like golf and I have bought everything that I need."
"But surely you must have needed to buy more golf balls in the last three years," I countered, "and yet these ones with your name on are still in the box."
Of course it turns out that if you are really into a sport, having your name on your equipment is not quite as useful as having the right equipment. The balls weren't the right weight, or colour, or shape or something.
So, getting back to the original subject, I can no longer buy golf paraphernalia for my Dad because he very politely asked me to stop.
So now that we're all on the same page, what do I buy my Dad for Christmas? I buy him a useless gadget for the home. And funnily enough he does the same for me, because I am just as difficult to buy for. At least twice we've even given each other exactly the same present, albeit in a different size or colour. For example one year we bought each other a strange thermometer-meets-art-installation thing. Another year it was an alarm clock that projects the time on the ceiling. Both of these gifts were reasonably well received in both directions.
But sometimes it can go wrong. I'm still not entirely sure what to do with the laminating machine from Christmas 2009, and I imagine that one day I'll be back at my Dad's house and find a cupboard full of non-golf gifts that have been received with equal confusion.
My advice to you? Don't over think it. Buy him something that will raise an eyebrow, engage him on Christmas Day, and then be easy to store.
Mr B is a father of two and writes under a pseudonym to avoid embarrassing them.
Christmas is the busiest shopping period of the year - as everyone runs to the shops to buy gifts for each other. Although it's a tradition for Christmas shopping to start around November 1st, more and more stores start selling Christmas gifts earlier - with Harrods opening their xmas department in July!