Our Christmas gift count did seem, though, to fall faster than any of those rides at Universal over the last few years.

This Christmas season my parents showered me with a joint gift of food for me and my wife.


They told us to open it quickly before the cheese, beef sausage and pears get gross and slimy.


Remember those Christmases as kids? Our parents practically buried us in Hot Wheels, Barbie Dolls and other toys.


Where is the love?


I’m just kidding, of course. If my wife and I want that drone, we know we’ll have to run to Best Buy and buy it ourselves. We’re a little too old to expect stuff like that now, I suppose.


Our Christmas gift count did seem, though, to fall faster than any of those rides at Universal over the last few years.


The same thing happened with our own kids. Just like Arnold Schwarzenegger in “Jingle All the Way,” we used to race from store to store, when they still sported cute baby feet.


We tried to make sure everyone had equal piles around the Christmas tree. We know some friends (OK, one) who make sure each child has the same amount down to the last penny.


For a couple of years, when our children were teenagers, we gave one big gift, like a laptop, and then gift cards, like Starbucks. It was too hard during this stage to hunt down something they thought was cool.


Two years ago, we played Dirty Santa. But we learned it doesn’t work as well when everyone is related. Our family is just too polite. Plus, half of us bought something we wanted to keep anyway.


So, this year, we just drew names out of a houndstooth fedora like Bear Bryant used to wear. Murphy’s Law kicked in and my wife and I picked the names of our two boys’ girlfriends.


We still do Christmas stockings, so we’re not complete Grinches. We often stuff them with the gifts the kids like the best, like Cheetos.


Pretty much ever since my daughters started buying me gifts, I’ve figured out which one chose which gift.


Red toaster, my oldest. Red cashmere sweater, my youngest.


One of these years, I’m going to hijack my dad’s Christmas tradition and buy myself a gift, wrap it up really pretty and then open it and act surprised.


Merry Christmas to me!


Duwayne Escobedo covers Santa Rosa County for the Daily News. You can contact him at 850-315-4489 in Fort Walton Beach, on his cell phone at 850-255-1484 or email him at descobedo@nwfdailynews.com