So the bloggess posted a humorous story (as she regularly does) (she’s my heroine) (but the good kind, not the drug kind) (which is funnier said out loud and not read because “heroin” and “heroine” are spelled differently) about gifts and how they can delight or disappoint. That led to an amazing number of stories in the comments about the best and worst gift ever received (and for some, that was the same gift). There are some beautiful tales of sweet and thoughtful gifts, other tales that are simply heartbreaking in their level of thoughtlessness and dismissiveness.
Well, of course I’m going to run with this idea, and I encourage you all to get yourselves over to the master’s site and read the comments and think (and post to her comment section) about your own situations. I’m writing mine here simply because it’s really long and it’s bad form to clog the comments section of another website with really long stories. I think. But don’t let that stop you! Take all the room you want here if you’re so inclined. All three of you.
My best gift ever: Well, besides the sappiest answers of my husband and my two children, because really, that’s understood and if they don’t know they’re the best gifts I ever received then they haven’t been listening to me and shame on them. Look how talented I am, I profess my undying love and devotion and chastise them in the same sentence. Pure talent. But I digress.
I cannot possibly select ONE best gift, because different circumstances in one’s life make for different levels of best. If you’ve ever been that child that found a brand new bicycle under the (or more accurately, next to the) Christmas tree, you know the jaw-dropping awe of a complete surprise that you had been convinced would never happen even though Santa was always a very generous giver in the past. That was the best moment of my 9-year-old life and the feeling was so wonderful I generously let my mom try out the bike first and didn’t mind at all when she forgot how the brakes worked and accidentally put a long scrape down the side of the frame. She was mortified but I didn’t care because it was still the best. gift. ever. Witness: I still have that same bike in my garage all these years later, and someday I plan on riding it again. After we inflate the tires and find a much better padded seat for my padded seat.
Worst gifts are harder for me to describe, because of course we should be grateful that anybody took the time to think of us and of course we should be murmuring words of thanks and of course we should be trying to squash those treacherous thoughts of WTH? I am grateful that I never had embarrassing gifts from a grandmother in her dotage or an aunt on the sauce. So I really had to think hard, (but you’re worth it) and only one gift kept coming up. When we got married, my husband and I had gotten a rather firm guest list from his mother, and she left off some people that in later years made me think “why on earth hadn’t they been there?” At the wedding itself, after my mother had been seated (and traditionally, the bride’s mother is the last one seated as a sort of signal that the important stuff is about to start) my imminent mother-in-law got up, came to the back where I was standing with my father ready to follow my lavender-clad bridesmaids (hey, it was the 80’s, not my fault) and informed me that people she had invited to only the ceremony had shown up, much to her surprise, and she wanted to invite them on the spot to our reception and was that okay with me? I was non-plussed. (I had read that description in books many times, but for the first time ever I was actually living a non-plussed moment. Go, me.) What could I possibly say? I think I pulled out a brilliant, “Ummmm” and she pressed me for an answer. The music was starting, the lavender bridesmaids were on their way, and I was about to experience my very own bridal moment but first I was being waylaid by a last-minute decision. I think I said something along the lines of if it was okay with Hubby it was okay with me, and she said she had already asked him and he said it was okay; which I call shenanigans on because he was already at the altar waiting for me to make my magical appearance and there’s no way she would have gone up to the altar to ask him a question like that. Even though this was the woman who apparently used to fling open the front door when her kids were playing outside and trumpet “Do you kids have to tinkle?” so I really shouldn’t put anything past her.
Anyway, they came, we had to shuffle some people around at the last minute instead of trying to calm down or even revel in the fact that we’d just had a beautiful ceremony (why no, I’m not bitter, why do you ask?) and they seemed to enjoy themselves. They also announced they were going to sing a song for the happy couple and the band leader came over to me because she insisted on singing the one song I knew I didn’t want to have sung at my wedding because I hate it, absolutely hate it, and the band leader asked me what I wanted to do. She didn’t sing the song. I think she sang something else but I don’t remember because repressed memories and all that.
So fast forward, it’s after the honeymoon, and we are opening our wedding gifts from our generous and thoughtful friends and family, and we come upon this gift from the Last Minute Terrifying Song Choice Couple. It was a milk bottle.
Yeah, that was my reaction, too. A milk bottle? Like, a bottle for milk? Is it a fancy bottle? No, it’s plain white, about seven inches tall. Is it for keeping milk fresh? I don’t think so, it doesn’t have a top or a cork or anything. Is it to decant milk? Again, probably not because a) milk doesn’t have to breathe like wine, and b) it’s only seven inches tall, so two mugs of tea or coffee and you’re empty again. We looked at each other in complete puzzlement, and Hubby said, “Maybe there’s a check inside?” Nope. Just more white milk bottle. “In the box?” Nope. “Taped to the bottom?” Nope. We looked at each other, until he laughed and said “What the hell?” which relieved me because it was his family friend and he could say it but I couldn’t. We joked about that gift for years and used “milk bottle” as a code for many other things after that.
See, I even hesitated telling that story because no matter how you look at it, I think it makes us sound greedy. After all, these folks brought us a gift even though they weren’t coming to the reception, they were just stopping by the ceremony and they didn’t have any idea that they would be invited to the reception. I should be touched that people who never met me wanted to symbolize the most important day of my life with a seven inch white glass milk bottle with no top. If you can explain to me the significance of that gift, I would be ever grateful to you for that gift of clarity.
I leave you with a humble gift of my own: