On Christmas night, after everyone was gone, the wrapping paper bagged up, and the kids put to bed, I (of course) went to Twitter to see how everyone else spent the day. I found myself quickly reading through a hilarious list of worst gifts of the year. Some were embarrassing, some were funny, some were just plain odd.
And then I realized I had nothing to contribute.
We had a really good Christmas this year. We saw a lot of family, had a great meal, gave some fun gifts to everyone, and received some really nice gifts in return.
Quick tangent: Cordy even handled the day better than she ever has. When the room got too loud, I noticed her slowly pushing herself deeper into the sofa cushions, as if she was trying to disappear entirely. A few family members drew attention to her, and she closed her eyes to block it all out as I reminded them that this was her way of coping with the sensory overload, and it was best to not engage her at that time.
Soon she had had enough and quietly slipped upstairs to her room. When I went up to check on her, she told me that she went to her room because she needed some quiet time. Wow…I’ll gladly accept that response to being overloaded rather than her previous response of having a massive meltdown. And after a little while, she came downstairs again, ready to join in and play with her toys some more.
OK, back to the story: Both Cordy and Mira had several fun toys and books to choose from, and Aaron and I received gift cards to several of our favorite places. There was no gift Hall of Shame, no WTF gift of 2010. I found myself a little sad about that fact.
In the past, we could always count on my Great Aunt Dot to provide some weird, off-the-wall gift that she purchased on the 90% off rack at Macy’s for Christmas. Sometimes it was a tin of stale, outdated cashews, or a bunny that said “Happy Easter” when you pressed it’s ear. Sometimes it was a bag of toilet paper with one roll missing from the pack or some gaudy piece of costume jewelry with the price tag still clearly attached, red lines showing the markdowns. Sometimes it was a map of Millersburg, Ohio with no explanation.
As a kid I hated opening all the weird stuff from her. I didn’t even like her all that much – she was mean and liked to tease me. Later I learned to laugh it off and remember it’s the thought that counts, and as an adult I understood that the teasing and the gruff exterior were how she dealt with a lifetime of disappointment. She died just over two years ago, and since then Christmas gifts have never been the same at our house.
So this year I once again pulled out one of her last gifts for Cordy and played it for everyone just before we sat down to eat. (Thankfully, Cordy isn’t scared of it anymore.)
A family friend who joined us this year looked at it and said, “Shouldn’t you take the price tag off that?”
“Of course not,” we replied, ”That’s just how Aunt Dot gave it!”
We may no longer have her with us, but when we see that deer (moose?) in a bathrobe singing “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer” while it rocks in the chair, it’s like Aunt Dot is still celebrating with us in spirit.