The following criteria deem you “Difficult to Shop For.” If you match at least two of these criteria, you should know that your friends and family are probably talking about you behind your back circa November 25th each year.
1. You say out loud that you want something, and then you go and buy it.
2. You have no poker face when it comes to gifts that do not appeal to you. You have no qualms about asking for a gift receipt for returns.
3. You give few hints or lists around gift giving time.
4. You are astoundingly good at giving presents.
The bad news is my Dad matches all four of those criteria. (Hi Dad. I love you, but yes, you are usually the big question mark on my Christmas Gift.xls sheet.) (Yes, I use an Excel sheet.) (Yes, you can have a template.) (Yes, I am horrifically dorky.) (Yes, I am assuming you’re thinking these questions to yourself.) (Yes, I’ll stop now.)
So here is what my dad DOES like, as far as gift giving goes: gifts that clearly demonstrate your generosity of time and thought. Gah, I mean, what kind of holiday is this? My dad has always been a fan of gifts that we have made: whether it is a photo calendar or a CD of music we think he’ll like, if we made it, he likes. (Although I may have detected a hint of anxiety when I went through my knitting stage that he might be on the receiving end.) And his absolute all time favorite gift? Homemade fudge.
Yes, homemade chocolate fudge is all it takes to make my Dad happy. So when I was home for Christmas, I decided to attempt making it. The recipe comes from my Grandma (his mom) and looked fairly simple. Famous last words.
All was going well through the early stages: scald milk, melt chocolate, add in a few things. But then there was the boiling, and the soft ball stage and the dropping the pan into a sink of ice water. First, my pot was too small.
For the record, it should not be doing this Mount Vesuvius action. That is very, very bad in the making of fudge.
I was so flustered by the gushing chocolate over the sides of the pan that I underestimated the soft ball stage and switched to the ice bath too early. It is supposed to go from a very glossy melt-y chocolate look to the matte look of, well, fudge. This did not happen. Nonetheless, I prayed for the best and poured it in the waiting pan and stuck it in the fridge.
My mom told me to stick it in the fruit drawer, swearing my Dad would never look in the fruit drawer. Later that night, my Dad mused out loud that he wished someone would make him fudge and my mom and I traded conspiratorial glances.
A few minutes later, he was rummaging in the fridge for something when… “WHAT THIS IN HERE?” The jig was up. So much for waiting for Christmas. As my Dad dug the tray out of the fruit drawer, I crossed my fingers and toes that the fudge had set while in the fridge.
For dessert that night, we had vanilla ice cream…. with melty, gooey hot fudge sauce.