a touching holiday tale

So the other day everyone in my family was ripping on everyone else, as we have a tendency to do, and the subject of Christmas gifts came up. And a certain memory came flooding back.

It was the mid-80s, I suppose. I want to say that I was 7 or so and Ginny was about 5.

Somehow we had gotten the idea (possibly from something our parents had said) that making Christmas gifts for each other was a sweet and touching thing to do. So we came up with ideas and got busy.

I decided to make Ginny a shirt for Frannie, her beloved Cabbage Patch Kid, to wear.

*Note: My sewing skills developed quite early, which is to say that I’m as shitty a seamstress now as I was at age 7. I can’t even sew a button.

I worked for a really long time on this fugly-ass shirt. I sewed the two pieces together (out of pillowcase cloth, of course) and “embroidered” some sort of design on it which may or may not have involved trees and flowers. I sewed that bitch with love. And then I wrapped it up and put it under the tree.

I thought it looked lovely, of course, because I was seven and quite possibly vision-impaired. I couldn’t wait for Ginny to open it on Christmas morning.

Meanwhile, she was working on a little handmade gift of her own.

At seven, I was a voracious reader, and particularly keen on Nancy Drew mysteries. I read almost everywhere except in the car, because I’ve always been horribly affected by motion sickness when I read in moving vehicles.

Ginny decided to make me a book-on-tape of one of my Nancy Drew books.

She worked for hours and hours on it, hiding in her closet or behind the couch in the family room with her red boom box and a supply of blank cassettes.

The problem?

Ginny had barely learned to read.

So while the effort expended was commendable, imagine about twelve cassette tapes filled with the stumbling stops-and-starts and poor enunciating of a five-year-old reading a book way out of her league.

Despite all that, when I opened the shoe box full of tapes on Christmas Day, I said “thank you” and hugged her and did all that stuff you’re supposed to do. Mostly because I was a perfect child. I was also especially aware of the fact that my parents were videotaping every moment of our present-opening with their brand new size-of-a-truck RCA camcorder. Each time we opened a present they made us go stand in front of the camera and say what it was we got and all that good stuff.

So Ginny’s reaction when she opened the box with the fugly doll shirt lives in infamy.

Thrusting out a skinny hip to the side, she held it up in front of the camera and said, AND I QUOTE:

“What is it? Great. I hate it.”

And THEN she threw the fugly shirt on the floor and STOMPED ON IT.

Of course at the time I think I was crushed and horrified, and my parents forced her to hug me and thank me or some similar parent-y thing, but these days it’s one of our funniest Christmas memories.

Besides, I totally taped George Michael songs from the radio over her 900-hour epic Nancy Drew cassettes.

12 Replies to “a touching holiday tale”

  1. <a href=”http://www.themorningnews.org/archives/stories/free_red_wine_and_other_humiliations.php

  2. That is fucking hilarious. HILARIOUS. I'm sure the people in the conference room think I'm nuts 'cause I'm all laughing over here. Somebody needs to bring me some food.

  3. Lorie, I share in your hand-made gift trauma…Remember when the “southwestern” theme was pretty popular? Well, my sister was really into it. So for Christmas one year I decided to buy her a nice, white button-down shirt and hand-embroider southwestern icons along the button placket. I thought it was the greatest, most creative thing ever. But looking back at it, I'm pretty sure my sister thought it was the biggest pile of crap she'd ever seen.
    . . . .
    Merry Christmas. :)

  4. my friend sankara is a hindu, and his family never celebrated christmas in the traditional way. his parents didn't want him and his sister to feel left out, so they used to get a tree and wrap presents to put under it. but not appreciating the whole capitalist slant of the day, the presents were not really presents. they were pieces of fruit wrapped in wrapping paper. one year sankara got a toothbrush and an orange. which would have been great if it was a brand-spanking-new tootbrush, but his parents just wrapped his old one in wrapping paper and put it under the tree.

  5. Edited to add. I knew she was making it and told her it was ugly then. She should have known better than to give the thing to me. And also the book on tape was for her birthday in February and I didn't read that bad! So there. The shirt was fugly.

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