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Published December 10 2011

Swift: Here’s a vote for full Christmas transparency

Christmas is a magical, mysterious, Mystical time of year.

Man that bugs me.

I don’t like secrets. I want to know what’s going on.

I don’t want to agonize over the clunking sound in that huge box, only to discover it contains Burger King gift certificates and two family-size cans of peaches, which were tossed in to throw me off the trail.

Keep me in the loop, people. It’s the only way I can maintain the delusion that I am the marginally competent dictator of my own chaotic, unpredictable, little world.

I’ve often told the story about the year my sister begged me to “give her a hint” on what Mom and Dad had given her for Christmas.

My reply – “It’s brown and goes on a horse” – not only drove home that it was a saddle, but also that she was getting a pony.

I couldn’t help it. It was too hard to see the look of agony on her face. I had to help.

As a child, I was always trying to get to the bottom of what my presents contained. I shook my gifts until they broke, snooped through store bags stowed in the closet and once interrogated my mother relentlessly about why she had the same wrapping paper that Santa Claus did.

Even today, I support full holiday transparency. I like being able to tell people exactly what I want. In turn, I like to know what they want.

My need to know doesn’t end there. When I give them the gift, I want them to open it immediately so I can see how they react.

In my world, it would be perfectly acceptable if all holiday gifts were wrapped in Ziploc bags or Saran Wrap. Rather than a Secret Santa, I fully support the notion of a Full-Disclosure Santa.

Full-Disclosure Santa would give you a box of candy with a card that says: “Enjoy this box of candy. I know you don’t like coconut so they are all milk-chocolate pecan. Signed: Full-Disclosure Santa, aka Larry in IT. PS: I’ve included the receipt, just in case.’ ”

Unfortunately, my control-freakery about presents is coupled with my husband’s complete nonchalance about presents.

One year, Irwin was good enough to buy me diamond earrings for Christmas.

I have no idea how he knew I wanted them.

Maybe it was the way I accidentally tucked Helzberg ads in the centerfold of his Discover magazine. Perhaps it was the subtle hints I wove into every conversation: “Honey, have I ever told you that my all-time favorite actor is Lou DIAMOND Phillips?”

Most likely, it was the skywriter.

But Irwin is everything I am not. Mr. Stony McStoicson can keep a secret for years. He doesn’t have the compulsive need to see what he got for Christmas, or how others react to the gifts he gives them.

He could honestly wait until mid-February to open his Christmas presents, even though it would cause me to spontaneously burst into flames just watching him do so.

Naturally, he wouldn’t give me the slightest hint as to what he got me for Christmas. In fact, he soon had me convinced that he had bought me a pair of really warm winter boots.

He even wrapped the earrings in a boot-sized box, to further confuse me.

This almost killed me.

I was convinced that, just a year into our marriage, my husband was already buying unsparkly, unsexy, relentlessly practical gifts.

“Give a hoot,” I thought. “Don’t give boots.”

And then – surprise! – he came through with gorgeous jewelry.

Admittedly, his surprise was kind of fun.

But I can only stand one of those big surprises per decade.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go Saran Wrap a cordless drill …


Readers can reach Forum reporter Tammy Swift at (701) 241-5525