Monday, December 8, 2014

Worst Christmas Present Ever

Recently during a book launch interview (more on this next time) on Facebook, I was asked what was my worst Christmas present ever.

“That's easy,” I responded. “I grew up in a family of eight kids with no money, so we kids all traded names and bought for one other person. The year I was about fourteen, my twelve-year-old brother Russell’s gift to me was a fluorescent orange hunting hat, complete with ear flaps. That was one of the few gifts I got that year and I was not pleased…”

True story. He thought it was hysterically funny and I was a bit ticked off. Somewhere there is photographic evidence of me in a hot pink quilted robe and a fluorescent orange hunting hat. My parents took about twelve pictures of me in eighteen years, and that, of course, was one of them.

My other gifts that year were a skirt and a wool sweater. Mom, excited to have afforded real wool, wanted to be there when I tried them on. Thank God she was, because as soon as I pulled the sweater on I felt as if a million ants were biting me from waist to neck. I began a crazy ants-in-the-pants dance, slapping at my arms and trunk, yelling, “Something’s biting me all over!” Mom yanked the sweater over my head and saved me from a million biting—fibers.

The wall unit my brother made.

Merry Christmas to me.

Years later, when my brother became a master carpenter, he made me a gorgeous, gigantic toy box for my kids, big enough for them to get inside and play in. “This is to make up for the hunting hat,” he said. More recently, he made a wall unit worthy of a mansion. I think with the family discount we might have paid for the materials. I think we’re even.

Recently Costco had a display of colorful worsted wool socks. Hmm, I thought. They might be the solution to my nighttime freezing-feet problem. Could I have outgrown my wool allergy? I held the socks against my wrist. No reaction. Then I held them to my neck—and immediately commenced my ants-in-the-pants dance. My shoulders still hunch from the memory.

Hey, Russell, think you could find me some orange hunter’s socks?