of course I remember the presents... and the rest

... Pop's feckless little brother, of whom much was forgiven. Regularly. "He can hear the oven door close on a turkey at a distance of 50 miles," Mom would mutter as she set a place for the man who never called but - mostly - showed up. After she told him he needed to bring presents for the kids he became a semi-reliable source of ballpoint pens.

... Himself's mother regularly outdoing herself in sheer awfulness of presents. For me, I think the snapfront housecoat was the worst. "Now you have something to wear while you iron," said the proud giver. Not that this is a contest, but can anyone top that?

... a lovely red dress that actually fit and flattered my developing adolescent figure.

... an antique necklace that I'd admired on a trip to SF - Himself called Gump's and had it sent.

... the year Himself 's mother called me in October, she was at a terrific sale and did he need any underwear? Well, yes, a few pairs were always welcome, and that was the last I heard of it until Christmas Day when a brightly wrapped package was presented. "Underwear?" he said. "She said it was what you needed," came the reply. For an awful minute he looked like he thought I was guilty. I still think this was a plot.

... the original Chanel 19 and the powder. Mmmm. They recently brought out an "updated" version, which means they added artificial vanilla. Come.On.

... mistletoe.

... flannel shirts for all the boy cousins. This ended after the year one of the aunts gave flannel shirts to me and my sister.

... the year Himself finally remembered that I DO NOT LIKE my birthstone and got me a heavy gold bracelet.

... the art teacher who in weekly sessions with the least talented class of sixth-graders ever, told us that everybody needed to be able to draw a cat, a rabbit (like cat but longer ears and asterisk tail), a sunrise (line on page with half circle to the left) and a sunset (same but half circle to the right), and - just in time for Christmas - a holly leaf.

... the dive-bombing tissue angels hanging at artistically different heights from the ceiling, direction from one of the lovely and silly Christmas Helps magazines.

... making Croquembouche with the kids, spun sugar and all.

... my mom making each doll a new outfit for Christmas. They'd be lined up under the tree in their Christmas splendor to greet us Christmas morning. One year a dear family friend got into it with Mom and knitted the dolls little sweaters. The ones with the smallest heads got little knitted hats, too.

and your indelible memories? Please share!


  1. That is so lovely that your Mum made you a new doll outfit. Growing up in NZ with no money to spare we were ecstatic to get an orange and an apple from Canada (the red kind) in our stockings. Compare to my kids where the floor is covered with gifts. This year we will do one secret santa in NZ, a total relief!

    1. I'm afraid to try secret Santa with our relatives - only one of my children has any talent for gifting. Another buys for the mom in her head and another went through adolescence in a hazy daydream (yes, he now works in computers) so is likely to buy something like battery-heated socks. I know things are picked with love but sometimes it's hard to look grateful. As opposed to horrified.

  2. Apologies in advance - typing on my iPhone is never pretty. I wanted to share some Christmas memories. I grew up in a big family and my parents took it upon themselves to put up the tree, assemble the toys and put out all the gifts after we went to bed on Christmas Eve. It was purely magical to wake up on Christmas morning even if the gifts were not extravagant.

    My husband has always been generous but thinking about gifts with meaning of course I remember the jewels. But honestly I remember that we married young and poor. One of our first Christmases he surprised me with a new Singer sewing machine. I put many miles on that baby! I had only ever used a discarded machine from a family friend before. This new machine had all the bells and whistles! That was a merry Christmas indeed.

    1. What lovely memories, Teacups! My parents did a magical Christmas morning, too, one year my dad stayed up all night to film us coming down the stairs.

      I received a Singer when my first pregnancy was announced, and was happy to make comfortable maternity dresses, like boatneck sleeveless shifts only wider towards the bottom. I even made one in satin to go wear to a formal wedding. They hung from the shoulders there was no elastic.

  3. ...the little fish eyes on tiny china dishes on grandma's table, belonging to the various pickled herring the old Scandys' loved. Revolting and fascinating to us.

    ...wonder, on the childrens' faces, the best part.

  4. My mother made me a set of beautiful clothing for a new doll, and I will always treasure that memory. I would hate to burden you with way too many years of MIL gift horror stories, but I think the ruffled, garish, tartan, shiny aprons given to all the adult women in the family one Christmas with the comment that she couldn't wait for us all to wear them when we served the next holiday meal at her newly acquired farm house in NC might be akin to your housecoat story. I still shudder at the mental image. And, not that this is a contest, but a hastily wrapped can of pistachios for a big birthday.? I couldn't make that up if I tried!
    Merry Christmas WFFand all at Flintstone Manor!

    1. Merry Christmas to you and yours, KnitYarns!

      I do wonder sometimes whether mothers-in-law - oh, never mind, it's almost Christmas. Blessings and joy to all. Almost.

  5. This is not as bad as a housecoat, but the cast-iron cat and the framed photo of themselves that my husband's parents gave to us were pretty bad:



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