Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Funny Christmas Memory

The Grandmother I've written about here and there is my mother's mother. We have always had a special relationship, and even as she ails, I would like to believe that she remembers me, or at least feels my love and energy whenever I stop by to visit.

However, like most, I did have another Grandmother. This Grandmother was a cold woman who basically never got to know me very well. She was the type of grandmother who, upon seeing you on her thrice-yearly visits, would say kind things like, "Wow! Look at all the weight you've gained since the last time I saw you! God, you're FAT!"

ANYWAY...for whatever reason, I had a flash of a long-buried Christmas memory yesterday. Said Grandmother used to ship Christmas presents to my father's house every year for Christmas. I usually spent Christmas Eve with my mother, then on Day I would head up to Dad's. A lot of times I would show up in my pajamas, just so I could feel like everyone else as we gathered around the tree and opened the Santa gifts. Once we opened all of our gifts to each other, we would delve into the box shipped by the Grandmother/Mother who knew us not.

Keep in mind this was mostly in the Eighties: the years marked by the carrying around of 1,000 pound video contraptions on your shoulder, the family mugging for the camera, while Dad tired desperately to narrate and be a homespun version of Steven Spielberg at the same time. After the first year of horrible acting, my father got wise: the goal was to open all her gifts, blanch, say how we really felt, then turn on the camera. Once this got to be a tradition, we would actually tuck the wrapping back around the gifts and then put on an Oscar performance as we pretended to unwrap the gifts for the first time.

"Nan! Wow! I always wanted a Barbie Make-up Kit!" I was eighteen.
"Diet Pills!" My father would chew the insides of his mouth. "How thoughtful!"
My brother, a little too young to expostulate, would often just stare into the camera and say, "Thanks, Nan," as he flung the well-thought-out token aside and moved on to the next gift.
My StepMom, always kind and wise: "Gee, thanks Mom." Then she would offer the camera a mega-watt smile while hugging her polyester bathrobe.
God Bless Her.

Of course, it's the thought that counts. But the woman was thoughtless. And because of her lack of care, we got a few good laughs out of it. I don't know why I thought of this yesterday, but I did, and I'm glad.

It's the kind of memory that makes for a good laugh this time of year.

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