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Bad Gifts #3: Things in Tiny Packages

December 22, 2011

Tiny packages, Exhibit A: newborn diapers.

In keeping with my festive holiday theme week of the top bad gifts — that so far have included posts on 1.) Things with Sayings and 2.) Clothing — today I offer you . . .

Things in Tiny Packages.

Please spare me the “Good things come in small packages!” Hallmark-brand of doo-dah.  

I’m not talking the shiny silver boxes given by the freakishly attractive cyborgs who live in the holiday diamond ads.

Things that come in small packages are almost never good.

Lest we forget:

1.) Napoleon

2.) Suppositories

3.) Rhode Island

4.)  Meconium

5.) Rose-scented hand soaps

The latter was a Christmas gift I received at the age of nine from my eccentric, World’s Best Gift-Giver, Aunt Lela.  And guess what?  It came in a tiny package.  And it perfectly complemented the other household items I got from her that year — kitten towels, a bathroom rug, doilies, oven mitts, an egg timer.  Should I decide to run away and live on my own in a retirement village, I was all set.

I recall that after a mere five uses, the soap, which was perfectly sculpted into three lazily lounging cats, dissolved into mauve-colored runny goo and later formed an impermeable rose-scented mildew ring around our bathtub drain for weeks. 

Not to mention, the soap left me reeking of geriatric lust.  Which was about as lusty-scented as I needed to be in the fourth grade.  Or maybe in the tenth grade for that matter.

Things I purchased for my mom for Christmas usually fit in tiny packages.

A ceramic beagle the size of an eyelash wisp.  A pewter kitten who could’ve cat napped inside a matchbox.  A porcelain chick who might’ve very well hatched from a larva egg. 

Together they formed a fine layer of dander across my mother’s kitchen ledge for at least two decades.

Then, I suspect after years of feeling utterly useless and wholly insignificant about their place in the universe (while suffering through a mutated strain of Short Man Syndrome), they drafted a suicide pact and collectively threw themselves off my mom’s windowsill. 

Sadly, the pewter kitten was the only survivor.  Today she spends her days planning for the next chance to do herself in, perhaps dreaming of being soldered to a charm bracelet where she can serve an actual purpose.

Of course, these tiny items were all I could afford with my meager allowance.  The sterling silver hippo was well out of my price range.  Most Christmases my dad would simply push me off into a store with five bucks in my pocket, and then he’d wait outside for me to make my purchases. 

I’m pretty sure at least once I secretly blew the money on useless crap for myself.  Which might explain his 25-cent gumball machine rabbit’s foot keychain.

Oh, I hope you like it, Dad -- I hope you like recycled roadkill.

And then there was the Christmas present I got from my brother.  A tiny box wrapped in comic book paper.  I think he added some ribbon for authenticity’s sake. 

Nothing about a Christmas present given to me in early November seemed peculiar.  And then I opened the box to see a bulging pile of grass.  And my brother immediately grew his telltale Ted Bundy smirk.  When I threw the box down, knowing I’d been had, a large inhabitant with eight legs made his way out of the box to reveal himself in all his fur-covered glory. 

He was probably relieved to be out.  He barely fit inside the tiny package.  

Sadly, I don’t have a photograph of me proudly displaying my Christmas spider.  Or of the Kodak moment when I opened it. 

So I’ll have to borrow from my mom’s expression from the Christmas of ‘83 when she opened yet another thimble-sized barnyard animal.  

That right there is the look of someone on the brink of a Glass Menagerie-style mental collapse. 

Or the look of a spider-in-a-box recipient.  Take your pick. 

36 Comments leave one →
  1. December 22, 2011 11:17 am

    Wrapping the spider was a spectacular display of sibling torture. I hope you exacted some type of revenge.

    • December 22, 2011 12:41 pm

      I wish I could say I did. But he was the one with the Big Ideas. If you read my brother’s comment, you’ll know it really just snowballed from there.

      • December 22, 2011 2:40 pm

        I thought it was bad when my brother stole all my stuffed animals and left my cabbage patch doll on my bed with a ransom note pinned to her dress. I got off easy compared to you.

      • December 22, 2011 3:45 pm

        That sounds a lot like my brother’s brand of torture. Are you sure mine wasn’t a friend of your brother’s? Blond skinny freckled kid with an evil sneer? Ringing a bell?

  2. December 22, 2011 11:35 am

    I did go on to trump the spider surprise by putting worms in your bed. :D

    • December 22, 2011 12:42 pm

      It wasn’t worms, it was ants. But I’m sure worms would’ve been worse (i.e. slimy) — so I really can’t thank you enough for selecting ants.

  3. December 22, 2011 4:30 pm

    Lots of laughter reading this post (as usual). Merry Christmas!

  4. December 22, 2011 5:02 pm

    My Mom probably DREAMED of getting a delicate little menagerie. All I ever got her was bubble bath. Wonder why it never occurred to me that our house only had a shower?

    • December 22, 2011 5:55 pm

      Excellent gift and an excellent point you’ve brought up. Did we ever really think about the gifts we got our parents beyond the well anticipated opening? I sure didn’t think about what my mom would have to do with a glass menagerie the rest of her life.

      P.S. Thanks for stopping by, Peg! Wow, even rock stars who were recently Freshly Pressed still have time to read other blogs? Well I’ll be a monkey’s uncle!

  5. December 22, 2011 5:24 pm

    Isn’t everything on that list a suppository?
    Les
    PS-Your brother is awesome.

  6. December 22, 2011 6:03 pm

    Great read and fun memory. Your brother sure kept you on your toes! Happy Holidays!

    • December 22, 2011 6:14 pm

      Yeah, without my brother I’d have much less material to work with. Thanks for stopping by.

  7. December 22, 2011 7:59 pm

    I think you should thank Aunt Lela for the rose-scented gunk, bathroom rugs, etc., because it is this list of gift items that made me laugh the hardest, and it is this recall of childhood moments of awesomeness that make your blogs the funniest to read. Maybe that was her intent all along?

    • December 24, 2011 2:25 pm

      Thanks! Yes, I do appreciate her crappy gifts in a literary sense. She was an odd bird and drove us all up the wall — but she was also a splendid memory-maker indeed. I’m sure she was hoping when she bought me a kitten sweatshirt at a discount store that I could one day cash in on the monstrosity and use the money to buy my husband a Shaun Cassidy face revision.

  8. December 23, 2011 12:44 am

    You think your gifts were dull?

    I worked with a woman who gave Ziploc Bags as Christmas presents. Wait, maybe it was Reynold’s Wrap. Either way, imagine the excitement at that gift exchange.

    • December 24, 2011 2:27 pm

      No, really? Reynold’s Wrap? Get outta town! That is purely insane! I received jars of jelly from my great aunt and maybe a can of peanuts and small packages of kleenex for my purse. But leftover wrap? Nuts. I would have to say though that I would’ve appreciated the Ziploc bags. I will someday have to write the story of how my mom ruined my life by wrapping my sandwiches in waxed paper.

  9. December 23, 2011 3:18 am

    I nominated you for the Versatile Blog Award, because you are awesome (obviously!), but also because it’s a rule of nature that if there is an award to be had it’s yours – and you don’t argue with gravity either, right?! :)

    http://30yearsofgrowingpains.wordpress.com/2011/12/23/beloved-and-versatile/

    • December 24, 2011 2:28 pm

      Thank you! How did you know I was a professional award winner? How? This definitely fits my signature winning style.

  10. December 23, 2011 2:55 pm

    “Should I decide to run away and live on my own in a retirement village, I was all set.”

    Ahhh! hahaha! Flipping hilarious post, Angie.

    But a spider? Even my brothers never thought to do that to me. I am deathly afraid. So actually, now I wonder why they never tried it…hmm..although my oldest brother did wrap up (are you ready for this?) My cat. Yes. My cat was in a box and wrapped. I knew what it was as soon as he tried to hand it to me and the box shifted and jerked violently all over the place and a sad long torturous meow filled the room. At least they were kind enough to leave a hole for breathing. Oh, and they also gave me several little gifts one year that were a joy to open: the remote, a banana and a bottle of half-used shampoo.

    • December 24, 2011 2:30 pm

      Oh no, Darla! Receiving your cat in a wrapped box is WORSE than my spider gift. That is outrageously upsetting! I think that would’ve scarred me for life. Yet I find myself admiring your brothers’ brand of collaborative awesomeness. Is that wrong?

  11. LaVonna permalink
    December 23, 2011 8:43 pm

    When you said you didn’t really think about what your parents would do with your gifts, I was thinking that probably was the same with Aunt Lela. She just wanted Something in a box with our name on it. The first few years we were married she never gave Russ anything really–it was always something I could use!! Ha!!! Years later when he got ties every year he was probably ready to go back to the other gifts. Ha!

    • December 24, 2011 2:35 pm

      You’re probably right about that and that explains so much about Aunt Lela.

  12. December 23, 2011 10:42 pm

    All I can say is…Turn about’s fair play…these memories will surely come back to haunt you when Margot and Jude get a little older…you might want to hide these articles from them!
    Merry Christmas anyway!

    • December 30, 2011 10:05 pm

      By the time they can figure out a computer, I’m hoping this thing we call a blog is completely obsolete.

  13. mary permalink
    December 24, 2011 6:56 am

    Loved this one, Angie! Merry Christmas to you and your sweet family! :)

    • December 24, 2011 2:33 pm

      Thanks, Mary! Same to you and your aesthetically superior family!

  14. December 26, 2011 9:10 am

    oh my, I think we can all relate in some way to these types of presents (discount store gifts)! Wouldn’t you just rather of had a crisp five dollar bill over five dollars in things-I-won’t-use? Hope you all had a great 25th!

    • December 27, 2011 6:25 pm

      Yes – I could’ve done a lot of damage with $5 back then that would not have included doilies ;) Hope you had a great Christmas as well!

  15. Amy D. permalink
    December 29, 2011 11:34 am

    I love your posts! Right now, I am laughing because my mom had the SAME red checkered shirt as your mom. And the kicker is, she also got a maternity version in 1982 when she was pregnant with my younger sister :).

    • December 29, 2011 3:41 pm

      Thanks, Amy! Of course — why wouldn’t your mom want a maternity version? ‘Cause that shirt is just super! What’s funny is I didn’t notice until after I posted this that my parents are festively wearing semi-coordinating shirts. Whereas I’m wearing a Miss Piggy t-shirt.

  16. December 31, 2011 11:58 am

    You must have been shopping in those little kiosks that lived in the local malls. That’s where my brother picked up a ceramic Garfield plack for me, one on which the cartoon character proclaimed “Merry Christmas to my granddaughter.” Poor kid, he was never one for details.

    • January 2, 2012 10:01 am

      You are so right about the mall kiosks. Great story! Although, I would’ve happily accepted anything that featured Garfield.

  17. January 17, 2012 1:23 pm

    Very well done, my new friend! A great read!

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