My brother buys the best worst Christmas gifts. What began as a frantic last minute trip to Duane Reade, is now a family tradition.
“Richie, where are the gifts?”
“Oh boy, Richie got gifts?”
We all gathered together watching as he pulled out three boxes wrapped recklessly in disheveled red gift tissue paper.
“Awe, he wrapped it too”. I said sarcastically. Richie had one on me. I hadn’t bothered to wrap the Uggs I bought for my mom and aunt. Mom still pretended to be surprised even though she picked them out and was their when I made the purchase.
“I got the one for you Grandma.” he said handing her the box surrounded by tissue. Grandma carefully pulled back the paper trying not to rip it. Grandma doesn’t throw anything out not even wrapping paper. She tries to reuse everything. That use to be called being crazy, now it’s being green!
Grandma’s gift was bird house with a toy bird.
“Oh a bird and it sings!” Mom exclaimed.
“Turn it on Grandma.” Everyone wanted to hear. A few years back Richie bought her a rapping Santa. Maybe this one sang Mary J. Blige. Grandma flipped the switch. My Uncle John took the cage from Grandma who was puzzled. He opened the bottom.
“You didn’t buy batteries?”, Uncle John asked. We were all disappointed, but moved on to the next gift.
“This one is for you Aunt Twiggy.”
We waited for the punch line on the edge of our seats. She reveled a box with the words solar power and a picture of a cat.
“Oh, is it a calculator?” She pulled the cat out searching for the buttons.
“It’s not a calculator. What is it? It just a cat. Why is it solar powered?” she asked confused.
“Hey Aunt, push the arm.” I noticed one of the arms was adjustable.
“Oh”. She lifted the cat up to the light coming from the window. The arm started to move up and down. At this point I was in tears.
“Princess, I was going to get Aunt Twiggy something really off the wall, but I decided to hold back.”
The irony was this began as a thoughtless run to the nearest convenient store on Christmas eve, now required more thought than any of the other gifts doweled out that day. We lost Pop five days into 2009. He was bed ridden that entire holiday season. My family would be reminded of those last days, while the world put up their trees and sang carols. Richie’s gifts gave us some temporary relief. We craved it. We needed it.
“Richie, you can’t hold back. Next time bring it!”
“And you Mom.”
Mom pulled a wind chime out of her box.
“Oh Richie, I could use this.”
“Hey, That’s a good gift old boy.” Danny, the oldest brother patted him on the back.
“Yeah not bad.” I sank into the chair next to grandma who was still admiring her birds. The tears continued to flow.
“Princess. What did you get.” Danny pointed his iPhone in my direction. He was recording.
“Richie didn’t get Princess one.”, Mom said.
She was wrong. He did give me a gift. I could not remember the last time I laughed that hard. I felt relief. I felt peace. I felt love surrounded by my family. That gift was worth more than any novelty, I would certainly bury in back of my closet.
“Sorry Princess, I got you for your birthday.”
My birthday was coming soon and I had one more thing to look forward to besides getting older.
“Richie, I cant wait!”