"I'd rather have what I want than be surprised," said Mike one year before Christmas, and he went off to buy his own gift. That has become the standard of giving between the two of us. Sometimes we buy a big-ticket item for the home and call it our Christmas gift, and then we'll buy some needful item just to wrap. Mike buys for himself; I buy for myself; and I do the wrapping. Mike rode off to Sears last weekend to buy a tool set for himself for Christmas, and I know he's happy as a clam. And of course, my hobbies are the kind that cost plenty and keep on costing, so I consider the machine embroidery I've been learning to be an ongoing gift. Still, a surprise is nice. We're taught to keep the gift a secret. Ina liked the surprise element, too. You notice in her writings that she relishes her secrets.
Mike and I went to Wal-Mart Black Friday morning – just to get out of the house, just to see what was going on. Plenty of people moved in the aisles, but it was manageable. We bought a gallon of milk, two skeins of yarn, a box of cards, and two bottles of Dr. Pepper. I saw an exceptional deal – $18.00 -- on something I had been considering as a surprise gift for Mike. I had been thinking of ordering it for him at $65.00 plus shipping and handling. And there it was -- $18.00! But he was with me, and I wanted to surprise him.
I could hardly wait for Mike and Nellie to leave Saturday morning so that I could run back to Wal-Mart. Approaching the display in question – there it was, but the price had changed – no longer $18.00 but $29.96. That it was a "Black Friday" special never entered my mind. Whatever happened to "falling prices," "price rollbacks," etc. My heart sank. "Well, I was going to pay much more," I reasoned to myself. "And when you think of it that way, it's still a good deal." I agreed with myself and selected a color I liked.
"Did you find everything you wanted?" asked the cashier. Yes, I said, and told her my tale – protecting the surprise element was costing me $12.00. "Well, that's too bad," she said, "because it costs him $12.00, too." We laughed.
And – that brings us full circle in Mike's philosophy – "I'd rather have what I want than be surprised." And he might add, "I'd rather pay less than be surprised." He doesn't always get it his way. KW