Dad’s Perfect Christmas Present

Crown Royal is a pricey drink. I learned to appreciate it in the Army in Augsburg, Germany. One December I thought I would be a good son and spring for a bottle for Pop for Christmas. He and I shared a drink. He thanked me.
 
I thought to myself, perfect, I can get this for Pop every year. So I did. For many, many years.
 
After a decade into giving of Crown Royal to Pop I was back in Ohio one Christmas looking for aluminum foil in kitchen. I was a tad surprised to find six bottles of Crown Royal in the cabinet above the sink.
 
It slowly dawned on me that Pop did not like Crown Royal as much as I did. When I asked him why he didn’t tell me he said, ” You looked so happy giving it to me I didn’t want tell you I don’t like it.” That’s what parents do.
 
Dad’s drink of choice was Blatz beer. I don’t know how they get the cat to pee in the can but they do. I thought I would broaden Pop’s beer palate by giving him a 12 pack of a bunch of different New England craft brews. Pop and I would have a beer and he’d thank me for them.
 
My brother Bob Boff always made a point of telling me how much Dad loved that beer. I thought to myself, great, now I know what to give Pop for Christmas. After a decade of giving Pop IPAs and Stouts for Christmas Bob let it slip- by accident- that as soon as I left for Massachusetts Dad would say, “Bobby, you want these beers? They’re awful.” Bobby got a free 12 pack each Boxing Day. Ah, know I see why Bobby always reminded me how much Pop loved those beers. They wet his whistle for free.
 
Well, one thing that I did know was that Pop loved playing pinochle. So I took the professionally shot family photograph from 1994 and shrunk it down to fit inside the lid of a wooden box that held two decks of pinochle cards. Dad actually smiled when he opened it. He smiled every time he glanced at his tribe there guarding his Aces. We played a hundred games of pinochle using those cards from that box.  Every time Pop grinned whether he won or lost.
 
I am a little slow on the up take sometimes. Just because I love something doesn’t mean Pop will love it. With a bit more thought I was able to come up with something to surprise Pop that he really enjoyed- and didn’t give to Bobby. Dad’s been gone since 2002. I think of him every Christmas, and raise a toast to him first with Crown Royal, then with Harpoon IPA then with the Ace of Hearts. This Christmas I really should give Bobby a 12 pack. I’ll write “Dad” on the tag then cross it out on and put “Bobby” there. Just for old times sake.
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