I have many generous friends and family, so I always do pretty well in terms of giving and receiving Christmas gifts. There always seems to be one person however, that partakes in one of the worst holiday traditions, bad gifts. We saw it in the movie Christmas Vacation when Aunt Bethany wrapped up her cat, or when Clark received a one year subscription to the Jelly of the Month Club. There's the bunny suit that Ralphie received from Aunt Clara in "A Christmas Story". It's probably happened to all of us at one time or another.
I have one person in my family that gives us those awful gifts every single year; and not just for Christmas. She is married to my grandfather, and NO she's NOT my grandmother! My grandmother was and is one of the most important people in my life. She was a strong woman of compassion, caring, wisdom, and faith. I always think about her this time of year, or whenever I need strength in life's most difficult situations. She died in 1995 from Lou Gehrig's Disease. After my grandmother was diagnosed with ALS, Grace entered my grandfather's life. She was my grandparents' neighbor who used to bring meals over as a "gesture" to my grandfather and grandmother. Chicken Tertrazini was her favorite dish to bring by. My grandmother couldn't eat of any of it of course because she had lost her ability to chew from the disease. After Gram died, Grace and my grandfather became companions and married two years later in 1997. This was Grace's first marriage at age 68 and my grandfather's second at age 80. Now that I've given a little family history of how she became a part of our lives, I can talk about the gifts she gives.
Over the years I have received the following gifts from Grace at the holidays: a pen shaped like an exclamation point, a sweater that was 4 sizes too big, and a plastic penguin that walks after you wind it. This year we received a wreath from William Sonoma that fell apart right out of the box. For our wedding, rather than pay attention to pointless little things like gift registries, she sent a lamp to an old address. We never received the lamp, but we did receive 2 calls from the store she bought it from at 4AM Hawaii time while we were on our honeymoon, asking why we hadn't received this special gift. I wonder if it was like the "Leg Lamp" the father won in "A Christmas Story". Regardless, it's always entertaining to see what she sends on these occasions. I just keep in mind that it's the thought that counts, and it did provide material for this blog post.