It has become part of Christmas tradition for the Smith family.
Every year around Thanksgiving, it is usually hand-delivered by a surly Santa: a concoction of photocopied legal pad pages, web page printouts and scribbled notes.
It's Pete's Christmas list.
Somewhere amid his packed overnight shift "serving America's veterans" in Augusta, the Jolly Old Eff makes time to compile succinct guidelines for what he wants to find under the tree.
Each year, the items change, but the formula remains pretty much the same. There are lots of books - with titles ranging from The Conqueror Worms to Side Show: My Life With Geeks, Freaks and Vagabonds in the Carny Trade. There are several CDs, including a little Moe Bandy and Johnny Cash mixed with Joe Carson's Hillbilly Band from Mars. There's also a stack of movies led this year by the classic collection Decrepit Crypt of Nightmares.
If you haven't ever heard of the Decrepit Crypt of Nightmares, don't worry. I hadn't either. Fortunately, Pops included a detailed description for me, straight from dvdmegapacks.com: "Welcome to the biggest, baddest, most disturbing collection of Indy horror flix to hit DVD!" It's 50 of them total, with titles like Blood Sucking Babes from Burbank, Suburban Sasquatch, Prehistoric Bimbos in Armageddon City, Hip Hop Locos, The Vulture's Eye, Scarlett Fry's Junkfood Horrorfest, I Dream of Dracula and, my favorite, Terror Toons - the story of killer cartoons unleashed from a DVD created by the Devil himself.
Every now and then, he'll abandon his "eclectic" media tastes and toss in a practical item or two. Take for example, this year's request for a hand saw. Or a dapper (my word) sweater vest - not a black one, he's already got that. Or a new pair of Crocs.
But, rest assured, this is Pete's list. So for every wish for a saw, there's a request for a gift box of "exotic" cheeses. For every sweater vest, there's a need for a Cason's Packing gift certificate.
This year, he also included a portable music player for "when and if" he starts walking regular to keep his body in peak physical condition. He's got to do something, apparently, to rid his system of all that exotic cheese.
The best part of the annual list are the loving instructions my father includes.
• No duplicates!
• Order early!
• And I'll quote this last one, because, frankly, it's perfect Pete: "This list is not all-inclusive. You may use your imagination and common sense to add to this list, although this would be difficult for some of you."
But that's the best part of the list. It is my dad. No question about it. And it is things like a Christmas list, a proclivity for things outside the mainstream, and a sharp sense of sarcasm that remind me why there's no question about my lineage.
So let's recap: conquering worms, Martian hillbillies and nightmare crypts.
It sounds like a bad horror movie, one that would surely be at the top of Pete's 2008 Christmas list.