Saturday, December 02, 2006

Nothing Says Christmas Like Rubber Grapes!

"Probably the reason we all go so haywire at Christmas time with the endless unrestrained and often silly buying of gifts is that we don't quite know how to put our love into words."

-Harlan Miller! Yes, that's me, humming away, and can you believe it? A Christmas carol no less! Jeepers, I hate Christmas music. LOL. But that is a different entry. Nah, tonight I am in a really good mood, because we put up the Christmas tree last evening, and we had so much fun. :) We had cheese steakes for dinner, so there were no dishes to have to worry about, and that left the rest of the evening free to just have a bit of fun. I have a few more decorating touches to do, and we still need to put the lights on the outside of the house, then we are all finished. :) After I am done here, I am off to wrap presents, which is my favorite part of the whole holiday experience. I love giving presents. LOVE IT!

I am not always wonderful at finding the "just right" gift however, in fact I have had some spectacular present bombs over the years. LOL. It's ok, I can admit it, it simply isn't my strong point, although I can promise you... my gifts are rarely dull! I have been thinking the last couple days about my first ever Christmas shopping trip, when I was allowed to choose, and purchase, anything I wanted, within budget of course, for those I loved. It was Christmas time, 1966, I was 4 years old. Mom dressed me in my faux fur stole, filled my stylish, yet unpretentious handbag with 10 $1 bills, and off we went to Woolworth's. I was now, officially, a shopper, and not just any shopper, I was a Christmas shopper.

I can still see the decorations Woolworth's had on display. Tinsel trees, large bulb-ed lights for Christmas trees, and over near the lunch counter, was a huge display of stuffed santas... of all sizes. :) One of which magically ended up under my Christmas tree that year, I loved that santa. Anyway, I began my shopping by looking for something for my brother. My brother is 15 years older then I am, but he was my best friend, it was easy to find his gift. I chose a model airplane for him. He wasn't home that year, he was working on real airplanes for the Air Force in Vietnam. Sigh. I missed him so much, but somehow, seeing a picture of an airplane on that model box, made me feel closer to him. :)

Next I chose for my father. Did was easy to buy for, he had a sweet tooth that went clear to his soul, so I purchased for him, his very own box of Whitman's Sampler Chocolate. Mom was another easy person to buy for, she was always fussing with her hair and make-up, and always asking to borrow my sister's compact mirror, so, I bought mom her own mirror, one that she could take along in her purse, and which had a picture of a rose on the back. I was sure it was the height of glamour and sophistication. LOL. So far my first ever big shopping trip was a success! Now, what to buy my sister? My sister, was difficult to by for. She and I are 10 years apart, so growing up I kinda felt like an only child. Brother left when I was 3 and sis and I never really clicked as siblings. I loved rock music, especially Paul McCartney, she loved someone named Elvis Presley... whoever that was! LOL.

What to buy, what to buy! Toward the back of the store, there was a large display of household knickknacks and bric-a-brack. It wasn't all that long after Thanksgiving, so there were some items that were a bit on the autmny side. There were brown napkin sets, some paper mache pumpkins, and a nifty display of faux fruit and vegetables, more then likely they were for making a cornucopia for a holiday display, but doggone it... they looked really cool. I could see my sister displaying them on her desk, to give it an autumn look all year long. I could see her dopey boyfriend, Terry, coming over to study with her, and in a fit of low blood sugar, picking one off the plastic stem, popping it into his mouth and chewing, and chewing, and chewing. LOL. The dope! Yes, rubber grapes would be the perfect gift. :)

After we shopped till we dropped, mom and I sat down at the Woolworth's lunch counter, and had a real girlfriend lunch. I always had the Tuna sandwich with fries, she always had the Salad and Soup combo. We had a good day that day, and I still remember it... 40 years later. I remember it, because a day like that didn't happen very often, my mom had a good bit of mental illness to deal with, or rather not deal with, so I embraced days when she seemed to be inside her own mind. It was a good day. It was really cold, but the sun was shining so brightly, and all over one could hear the bells of the season. The memory of that day is the one I seem to gravitate to most often, when I think of Christmas when I was a child.

After we got home, I laid down for my nap, and when I woke up, mom had wrapped all the gifts we bought that day, except the one I bought for her, and the one I bought for my sister. She let me do the wrapping on those, after dinner that night. When I was finished, they went under the Christmas tree, straight away. It nearly killed me waiting for Christmas morning to come. I was sure the rubber grapes would be the hit of the holiday season! It was my turn to pass out presents, the ones I could pick up anyway, and I bet you could guess... I went right for my present to my sister first. She pulled away the ribbon, she gently removed the large red bow on the top of the box, and then began to removed the paper, as to not tear it. IT WAS EXCRUCIATING! Finally, she opened the box, she reached in, lifted the grapes above her head, and fell over laughing her butt off! As did my father, and my mother. LOL. "Grapes, I got RUBBER GRAPES!" My sister laughed so hard, that a small, yet apparent puddle formed under her... ummmm... chair. LOL.

I made my sister peeeeeeeeee. LOL. At first I was angry that my present had generated such mirth, but then, seeing her peeeeee, and seeing my mother and father laughing so hardily, made me begin to laugh as well. And I have to admit, seeing my big sister peeeeeeeeing her pants out of laughter, was a a little sister's sweet revenge. See, it could happen to anyone, even a big 15 year old, like my sister. LOL. After she excused herself to change, she came back in and asked me why had I chosen rubber grapes as her present. I told her all my reasons, and she agreed, it would be funny if Terry thought they were real, and to my credit, I had chosen some that were pretty realistic looking. After dinner that night, she placed them in a small pink bowl on her desk, where they stayed until she left for college. :) Sigh. Funny the things we remember from our childhood, especially during the holiday season. Sis knew at the end of the day, it's really the thought, and the love behind it... not the gift. :)

So tell me, how are you at gifting? What's the stangest gift you ever recieved?

"Christmas Tree"
Berkeley, California
December 1st, 2006
Late Evening


Jessica said...

What a WONDERFUL memory...thank you for sharing :~)

Suzanne R said...

I love your story -- thanks for the chuckles!

I don't know if I'm such a good gifter, but I know that the strangest gift I ever got was a "training bra", in 6th grade at a big family Christmas get-together. I was so embarassed when I pulled it out of the box in front of everyone! LOL! Some of the adults got a good laugh out of that.

Karen Funk Blocher said...

Umm, a quilt wall hanging of a Storyteller. Pueblo Indians meet Colonial New England!

And I once GAVE John a "Clash Trash" - a green trash can with pictures of The Clash taped all over it!