Strange stuff happens this time of year. Or is it just me?
It has been a trying couple of weeks for many in my circle, myself included. Some of you may remember the awesome gift that Grannie Annie sent me recently.
Now, because I need some laughs and perhaps so do you, I want to write about some not-so-awesome gifts I have received in my lifetime. Things that demonstrate, if it truly is the thought that counts, that some people (at least those related to me) just shouldn't think.
Let's start with my grandparents. My late grandmother, God bless her, insisted on getting everyone multiple presents each year from the Avon catalog. Mind you, if this meant makeup, it wouldn't be so bad. You can give makeup away, because someone will want it. And likely it doesn't cost as much as the crap in the Avon catalog that your relative who lives on a fixed income is buying for you, thus adding new guilt to existing guilt. (My family is a combination of Lutheran and Jewish. My ex-boss, a Catholic, said, "Then you're a Catholic in denial.")
Avon's catalog brought my family things such as:
1. The terrorist-chic combination scarf/hat/earmuffs. It looked a bit like this, but when wrapped appropriately, you could only see eyeballs. And it was in cheetah print.
2. The bright pink suede slippers that were two sizes too big. I gave them to my at-the-time boyfriend's 8-year-old daughter, who really enjoyed them. This came with some books on the crucifixion. Oh, how I wish I could use MS Paint right about now.
3. The beer stein with a dog on the moon (my dad was the lucky winner.) Joining my aunt and uncle for Christmas one year, my dad saw that my uncle had received the same one, which made me wonder: did my grandmother buy us all the same stuff, one tacky gift per gender? They joked about exchanging them back and forth each year, but they were so hideous that they decided they didn't even want to look at them once every 365 days.
4. Gifts from my other grandmother, who I think goes shopping in fits of mania. (No, I am not kidding.) One year, I got a gold nugget to wear on a chain (I didn't), socks that came up past my knees (think Mr. Rogers' closet, rather than Avril Lavigne), and a 3X shirt that would have fit this guy.
I'm 5'3" and petite. I drowned. Goodwill did well again that year.
5. Gifts ALL YEAR ROUND from relatives who think I am still 10 years old. When I was 10, I made the mistake of telling everyone how much I liked cats. I still like cats, but once I hit 12 or so, I stopped appreciating pastel cat pillows, dishes with cartoon cats on them, and the like.
I could go on, but there's not enough space. I actually wrote a feature column about bad gifts one year, and described how my dad and I had actually talked about the dilemma of having our relatives spend money on such absolute crap that we all hated, but couldn't tell them.
Promptly, I got hate mail from people accusing me of being ungrateful, offering to adopt my grandparents, and saying it was "clear that the author and dad were related."
That, in fact, made us both laugh so much that it was worth the crucifixion books and dogs on the moon. And who knows? Over the years, we may have been helping people at Goodwill and The Salvation Army thrift store find the perfect gifts! Somewhere out there is a dog on the moon beer stein that is well-loved. I'd like to think so, anyway.