It’s the start of the new year. New hopes, new dreams and gift returns from the previous years. I hate gift returns. It can be a real hassle most times but can also be funny. Let me give you some examples.

The kids all got together and bought me a new laptop computer. It’s one of those things I needed but just couldn’t get myself to part with the money for it. The one I have I bought off of my daughter Jenny when she graduated from college and got a free one to use from the state related to her job. Her old computer went through four years of college and was pretty banged up. Its internal battery was pretty well shot and Jenny had lost the external power source. But a cheap computer is a cheap computer to Ken Begley.

I bought a new power source and kept it plugged into a wall socket all the time which sort of defeats the purpose of a portable laptop computer. Still it worked for almost two years until I dropped it and tore up the internal hard drive. I’m not one to give up though. So, I took it to Channing Nally who I referred to as the computer wizard on top of Lebanon Hill. He worked his magic and got it going again. Later the whole outer case started to pop apart but with the help of a good God, duck tape and some gorilla glue I got it back together. Still my kids thought I needed a new computer. Now me, I hate to see them squander their money on frills but they did. However, getting the computer to me from the factory was a bit adventuresome.

My oldest daughter Renee was waiting for the delivery and it was late. But then she got a call one day about it. Only it wasn’t the delivery company. A stranger called their house and said a package with her name on it had fallen out of the (name deleted) delivery truck and was laying on the road. Being an honest person, the lady saw their address on the package, looked up Renee’s phone number and informed them that she had their package and could come and get it.

Yep, they could have had a new computer for free but there are still honest folks in this world. By the way, Renee looked up the package on the internet and the delivery company marked it as “DELIVERED”. Interesting. I guess there are also a few dishonest folks left as well. I love that computer. No fail there.

I buy joke gifts for my kids and wife each year. This year it was t-shirts. I gave my wife Cindy one that said: “Sometimes I look at my husband and think dang you are one lucky man!” I think Renee has a husband that tends to treat her very well. So, I got her one that says: “I’m not spoiled. My husband just loves me.” As a side note I once bought Pogo Mann a t-shirt that said: “Mayor of Jackleg City”.

I gave my daughter Jenny, who has a certain reputation around our house, a shirt that said: “ADMIT IT. Life would be boring without me.” A little too true for my taste. However this t-shirt came in with no hems on the neck, sleeves or waist. Yep, someone at the factory must have been running late that day and just slapped an unfinished product in a bag and sent it on to a certain dumb redneck who either wouldn’t notice or wouldn’t care. They just didn’t know Ken Begley who thinks $17.16 is still $17.16. It took me two hours on the phone and Internet but I got my money back.

Finally, I bought a very sentimental fleece blanket for Cindy. It had on it big letters at the top saying ‘TO MY WIFE” and filled the rest of the blanket with proclamations of my love to her. I was very proud of it. I wrapped it up as soon as it came in without looking at it. Everybody was gathered around the tree, including Jenny’s new boyfriend Billy Bob. I was so proud that I quickly unfolded it and held it up facing the rest of the family, friends and in-laws so they could read it and I said “I love you so much Cindy!“ The whole room went dead silent for a minute. I was sure they were speechless at the beautiful thoughts on that fleece. Finally, one of the kids said “Daddy are you trying to tell us something?”

I dropped the fleece down and looked into their stunned faces.

The fleece didn’t say “TO MY WIFE”.

It said “TO MY SISTER.” Wrong fleece.

True story.

I had a lot of explaining to do, especially to Billy Bob.